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The Art of Socially Conscious Marketing

Written by Glenda Wynyard

In today’s interconnected world, we’re becoming increasingly aware of social and environmental issues. We want to support companies and brands that align with our values and actively contribute to positive change – and many a consumer and organisation have caught wind of this way of shopping, supporting and thinking. This has given rise to what many now call ‘socially conscious marketing’.

This is not just a trend. It’s a powerful tool for both NFPs and corporate businesses – and if used correctly, it can make a real difference while building a loyal customer base. This GW’s Fast Five is dedicated to NGOs, NFPs and charities but don’t worry, these tips can be applicable for our corporate friends as well.

#1: Build your brand to build authentic connection

Investing in your brand isn’t solely for corporate giants. NFPs are beginning to understand the value of building trust and measuring the impact of their brand. In a competitive space where many people are being asked for donations, it's crucial to differentiate yourself and appeal to the right audiences authentically. By investing in both acquisition and brand building, NFPs can create long-lasting connections with their supporters and therefore, gain ongoing financial support.

#2: Understand your audience to understand connection

Don’t just rely on the impact of your cause to build long-term donors. To effectively engage with your audience, focus on also understanding their behaviours and motivations. While highlighting how your cause helps the community is motivating, successful charities also take time to identify the right audience, utilising research and data to also understand their needs and desires. This audience-centric approach will help you generate awareness, incite behaviour change, and motivate people to donate and act.

#3: Being adaptable is vital to retaining relevance

The world is constantly evolving which means NFPs must adapt to economic and environmental factors that may impact their fundraising efforts. The ability to be agile is critical to success. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of reacting quickly to unforeseen challenges. By embracing agility, you can respond effectively to changing circumstances, ensuring your marketing efforts remain relevant and impactful.

#4: Guilt tactics can only take you so far

Gone are the days of the good ol’ fashioned guilt trip to get people to donate. Whilst a shock factor or guilt trip may be effective when time is of the essence (e.g., the catastrophic Aussie bushfires in 2020), it makes a one-off donation more likely. We want to turn donors into advocates. So, emphasise the positive impact your organisation has on society, create authentic connections, and strive to educate supporters about the meaningful change they can achieve.

#5: Show genuine commitment to the cause

Now more than ever, authenticity is highly valued, and businesses must avoid being perceived as inauthentic or solely driven by commercial gain to acquire ongoing support. Younger audiences (in particular) detect tokenistic affiliations and corporate virtue signalling faster than the latest Harry Styles concert sell-out. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of fundraisers to guide organisations in aligning with causes genuinely and transparently. Demonstrate a true commitment to your mission and engage employees in the decision-making process and you’ll build trust and establish meaningful connections with your audience.

Socially conscious marketing is transforming the way businesses engage with their consumers – and mostly, for the better. At the core of an NFP business, we need to remember that while raising funds is the objective, the way these organisations tackle and approach fundraising is the difference between a blatant “no thank you”, a quick fix or a longstanding, trusted relationship. Sometimes it’s not about what we’re doing, but how we’re doing it. As marketers, either for charities or corporates, this is something to keep in the back of our minds. After all, what are we without our audience?

This article is part of a series following the topics covered on our podcast, Pending Approval.

Glenda Wynyard is the Managing Director of The Media Precinct and host of the Pending Approval podcast. She draws on her wealth of experience in advertising to bring you key ideas from the topics covered in the show.

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Transcript - Pending Approval Ep 24: Being socially conscious Conchita Casteigt


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