The current crisis in Somalia and urgent appeals by aid agencies leads me to examine the nature of marketing campaigns launched by those agencies and how they resemble or differ from campaigns for products and services. Some non-profits believe that because they’re not in the business of selling products and services that they’re not required to conduct full-fledged marketing campaigns, but the reality is, to achieve their goals and raise the funds required to help others, they need to have a well thought-out marketing strategy and run full marketing campaigns. Islamic Relief is an example of a non-profit who does it right.
I took Islamic Relief as a model because they are one of the most popular as well as most active Muslim aid agencies worldwide. Their campaign includes Live TV appeals; fundraising events worldwide; online fundraisers in the form of webinars; social media, including Facebook, Twitter, blogging, videos; print ads; direct mail and email campaigns; PR; paid search ads; flyers; calendars and other print pieces; as well as outdoor advertising.
As with most aid agencies, there is an emotional appeal, usually featuring a specific humanitarian case, rather than numbers and statics, as in this video entitled “The Reality of Famine”; a strong call to action that is easy to implement; and a description of the value of an individual’s contribution – “$75 can feed a family for a month”.
Now that the East Africa crisis coincides with Ramadan, Islamic Relief is tying its campaign with Ramadan values of giving generously to the needy, as Muslims are more likely to give to charitable causes knowing they will receive increased rewards, and especially that in fasting, we get a taste of others pain, and also points out that contributions are zakat eligible. All this is done through an integrated campaign using a variety of media channels.
With such noble goals, of providing much needed assistance to people in dire conditions, relief agencies need to carefully plan and implement their marketing campaigns to achieve maximum impact. What are some examples of other Relief Agencies that are do it right, and others that do not?