Finding the value in marketing

Finding the value in marketing

Finding the value in marketing

Governance | Andrew Chaggar | 1 May 2012

You learn something every day, they say, and Andrew Chaggar is certainly finding this the case as he delves deeper into the leadership of European Disaster Volunteers.

As regular readers of my blog will know, we’re currently working hard to develop our charity’s organisational capacity. Up until now, that process has been predominantly backward facing. We’ve been analysing our past performance to prepare annual accounts and reports and also to help us understand our current position.

This month however we’ve reached a milestone - the analysis is done, our accounts are submitted. For the first time since leaving Haiti we’re facing forward, and we’ve set strategic targets for the next several years.

One of these key targets is increasing our ability to attract more funding and support from volunteers with professional skills. As a result I’m learning about another area important for charities: marketing.

Before becoming an aid worker I was an engineer and had been conditioned to communicate in cold facts. As a result I have sometimes struggled with other types of communications where subtleties of wording can shift emphasis or even meaning.

Overall, marketing was an area that I didn’t completely understand. I understood the concept of communicating value to attract the right people, but I struggled with how, exactly, this worked let alone how to measure successes and weaknesses. If I’m honest, I thought marketing was a bit “wishy-washy”.

Thankfully, we have again received the support of the Vodafone Foundation as they’ve chosen to support two staff for EDV. One of them, Roberta, is a marketing professional, and she has been instrumental in helping me wrap my head around marketing.

Roberta has been tasked with developing a marketing plan. Her first steps were auditing our current activities and analysing our environment, both in regards to other humanitarian organisations and the wider charitable sector. Her report came as a pleasant surprise to me: marketing is actually very fact based.

To help me understand how we might attract more donors Roberta first wanted me to understand who gives what to whom. So she pointed us to last December’s report on charitable giving in the UK by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Charities Aid Foundation.

The statistics contained make interesting reading as they help me understand in more quantifiable terms our charity’s existing fundraising strengths and weaknesses. It also shows me that marketing is not “wishy-washy”, but rather a series of intelligent responses to the environment in which we operate.

As a disaster responder I was interested to learn that overseas causes are the fourth most popular amongst donors, attracting 17 per cent of individuals and 10 per cent of the overall amount donated. Having wrote a blog about the media’s influence on disaster funding last February, it was also illuminating to see that a temporary spike of 24 per cent in the former figure is attributed to Haiti’s high-profile earthquake.

There are also more specific numbers useful to evaluating our own position. For example, while online giving is on the rise, only 7 per cent of those donating did so online. By comparison, 75 per cent of those who donated to us in the same period did so online. It’s also worth noting that these donors gave 28 per cent of our total income online. If you narrow the analysis to exclude grants and other income then that figure jumps from 28 per cent to 73 per cent of our donations being received via the Internet.

The report doesn’t state the total amount of online charitable giving so there is not enough information here to draw definitive conclusions, but these numbers certainly suggest that we take an unusually large proportion of donations online. This is in my mind both a strength and a weakness. On the one hand, we’ve so far neglected to capitalise on traditional opportunities. On the other hand, while other charities are trying to increase their online donations, we are well positioned in this growing area.

These are just a few facts among the many that Roberta’s analysis has generated - a great deal more information has been framed by Roberta’s overall market research. Our decisions about how to act on this kind of information will form our marketing plan. Where this phrase, “marketing plan”, used to make me scratch my head a little, I’m now keen to use the information we have to capitalise on opportunities and address weaknesses. We have the information we need to make informed decisions. Looked upon in this light, maybe marketing and engineering aren’t too different after all.



[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear


  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Andrew Chaggar

Andy Chaggar is executive director of International Disaster Volunteers (IDV) which he co-founded in 2008. In 2004, he was seriously injured and bereaved in the South East Asian tsunami, after which he became a disaster response volunteer, and founded IDV.

Follow Andy on Twitter @IDVExec

Tesse Akpeki (55) Martin Farrell (46) Robert Ashton (38) Tania Mason (23) Andrew Chaggar (23) David Ainsworth (20) David Philpott (14) Making Good: The Future of the Voluntary Sector (13) Vibeka Mair (11) Ian Allsop (11)
Niki May Young (11) Dorothy Dalton (10) Kirsty Weakley (10) Leon Ward (10) Celina Ribeiro (9) Gordon Hunter (9) David Davison (8) John Tate (8) Neal Green (5) Jeremy Swain (5) Rowena Lewis (5) Andrew Hind CB (4) Daniel Phelan (4) Belinda Pratten (4) Suzi Leather (3) Stephen Lloyd (3) Pauline Broomhead (3) Rosie Chapman (3) Andrew Purkis (3) Ingrid Marson (3) Alexander Swallow (3) Alice Sharman (3) Sir Stuart Etherington (2) Adrian Beney (2) Joe Saxton (2) Jesper Christensen (2) Paul Gibson (2) Andrew Scadding (2) Anne Moynihan (2) Rosamund McCarthy (2) Kevin Carey (2) Garreth Spillane (2) June O'Sullivan (2) Dan Corry (2) Paul Emery (2) Simon Steeden (2) Andrew O'Brien (2) Lesley-Anne Alexander CBE (1) Victoria Cook (1) Claris D'cruz (1) Peter Gotham (1) Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett (1) Justin Davis Smith (1) Kate Sayer (1) Alison McKenna (1) Paul Palmer (1) Anne-Marie Piper (1) Jo Swinhoe (1) Karl Wilding (1) Richard Williams (1) Mike Hudson (1) Sir Christopher Kelly (1) Martin Brookes (1) Simon Hebditch (1) Lindsay Driscoll (1) Jo Coleman (1) Cedric Frederick (1) Jonathan Lewis (1) Dame Mary Marsh (1) Jill Pitkeathley (1) Nick Brooks (1) Linda Laurance (1) Suzie Who (1) James Thompson (1) Stephen Hammersley (1) John May (1) Julian Blake (1) Malcolm Hurlston (1) Andy Gregg (1) Beth Yorath (1) Paul Amadi (1) Caroline Beaumont (1) Judith Davey (1) Diane Lightfoot (1) Douglas Rouse (1) Jackie Turpin (1) Lynda Thomas (1) Tom Flood (1) Dan Sutch (1) Jenni Cahill (1) Jonathan Crown (1) Ruchir Shah (1) Katy Wing (1) George Ames (1) Jenny North (1) Sir David Varney (1) Liam Barrington-Bush (1) Mairéad O'Reilly (1) Tobin Aldrich (1) Michael O'Toole (1) Lisa Clavering (1) Jamie Ward-Smith (1) Ian Joseph (1) Sarah Atkinson (1) Jonathan Bruck (1) Rachel Short (1) Dr Debra Beck (1) Andy Rich (1) Ian Leggett (1) Leigh Daynes (1) Tim Willis (1) Richard Caulfield (1) Emma Callagher (1)
Less +++ More +++

The long and unhappy saga of the Local Sustainability Fund

29 Jun 2015

Last week the government announced a £20m pot of funding for charities. This sounds like good news, says...

Government can't ask charities to compete for contracts while savaging council spending

15 Jun 2015

The government cannot tell charities they must compete for contracts in a market while slashing the spending...

'Northern Powerhouse'? Almost as clearly defined as the big society

4 Jun 2015

Ian Allsop talks tomatoes and why charities should look north for income growth opportunities under the...

Join the discussion


Attending our one day courses is a highly effective way of ensuring new and existing trustees fully understand their role, responsibilities and liabilities.

>> Find out more <<