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Want more donations? Prioritise brand awareness


14 March 2022 at 11:30 am
David Toporzisek
If you’re asking people to donate to your NFP before they are aware of your brand, you may need to rethink your approach, writes David Toporzisek, performance marketing manager at Movember.


David Toporzisek | 14 March 2022 at 11:30 am


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Want more donations? Prioritise brand awareness
14 March 2022 at 11:30 am

If you’re asking people to donate to your NFP before they are aware of your brand, you may need to rethink your approach, writes David Toporzisek, performance marketing manager at Movember.

Do not for profits (NFPs) care about brand awareness?

I’ve bought media for dozens of NFPs, and in that time, it has surprised me how few include brand awareness as a key priority. 

The marketers’ dream is to move someone from being a complete stranger – with no idea as to what your brand is – all the way to being a donor, a fundraiser, and an avid supporter. 

This is achieved through a series of campaigns that consider three objectives: brand awareness, consideration and conversion. 

Objectives define the outcome of your campaigns and are therefore the most important element to get right. 

Yet in my experience, there are many examples of NFPs that do not include brand awareness campaigns as a key priority in their marketing strategy. 

And I’m not the only one observing this trend. According to McKinsey, a growing number of marketing budgets are being assigned to activities which drive conversion and purchase. 

Brand awareness campaigns are being held to the same performance metrics as conversion campaigns, resulting in a misleading understanding of the impact of brand campaigns. 

So what is brand awareness?

According to Hubspot: “Brand awareness represents how familiar your target audience is with your brand and how well they recognise it.”  

In the era of performance marketing, brand awareness may feel like a vague concept that doesn’t have neat and tidy numbers tied to it. And in all honesty, that’s right. It is incredibly difficult to measure. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s a metric without any value. 

On the contrary, a strong brand is critical for helping NFPs to foster trust, create association, and maintain their purpose. 

People are relying on extensive research and others’ opinions before they decide to become a supporter of your NFP. 

This means that people are searching for “what does Movember raise money for”, scrolling, listening to influencers’ opinions on TikTok, and reading the comments section of YouTube videos about which charity to donate to. 

These are passive yet meaningful interactions that can lead to fostering trust and strong association with your brand. 

If you are asking people to donate to your NFP before they are aware of your brand, you may need to rethink your approach. 

How does brand awareness lead to more supporters?

The best part of running brand awareness campaigns is that eventually they lead to acquisition of more supporters. 

As Byron Sharp writes in How brands grow: “It seems hardly revolutionary that acquisition should be essential for growth, yet this seems to often get forgotten with today’s emphasis on targeting, database marketing, CRM and loyalty programs.”

With more advertising tools available to marketers, it is tempting to only focus marketing efforts on “warm” and “hot” audiences who are likely to support your cause. 

After all, marketers can create impressive donor journey experiences and personalised communications that can be delivered through almost any digital medium you can think of. 

But it is important to remember that even the strongest brands lose supporters. 

I know that supporters of Movember are flirting and cheating on us with other charities – and they’ve done this for years. 

Whether they’re doing it to keep up with the latest trending cause or are simply trying something that piques their curiosity, “new” has a greater pull these days than tried and true.

But in no way is this a bad thing. 

This means that people are more likely to flirt with us too, maybe even grow a moustache this Movember. 

This provides a huge opportunity to reach people who are likely to remember our brand and “activate” them when the time comes to ask for a donation. 

Considerations before launching a brand awareness campaign

The objective of a brand awareness campaign is for people to think about your brand first, when they are considering supporting an NFP. 

When used as a complimentary campaign in your strategy, brand awareness campaigns will likely increase your results in a conversion campaign. 

This means more donations, more fundraising registrations, and more supporters (if executed correctly). 

Since you’re not asking people to act as part of the brand awareness campaign, here are some content considerations to get you started:

  • You want the most reach possible. Think strategically about which channels, platforms and placements will get you the most reach for the best price. 
  • Be upfront with the problem. Make a clear case for the problem you are trying to solve. The “why” is the hook to get people into the conversation. 
  • Show there is a solution. People need to believe there is a specific and tangible solution which is not too distant and can make a real impact. 

Next time you are planning a campaign, be sure to include brand awareness campaigns as part of your marketing strategy.


David Toporzisek  |  @ProBonoNews

David Toporzisek is an advertiser, performance strategist, and marketing manager. He has worked with dozens of charities and not for profits, specialising in media planning, buying, and developing advertising strategies that make a positive impact.

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