How creative agencies can help not-for-profits thrive

Written by Jonathan Ross
20 Jul 2023

Through working with not-for-profit organisations (NFPs), agencies can help solve important social issues, improve their own company culture, and unleash their creativity to develop unforgettable and emotionally provocative campaigns. By supporting NFPs, agencies can be a part of doing something good, which, speaking from my own experience, feels great and lets others know that their organisations are about more than simply fuelling consumerism.

Working with NFPs can also create an atmosphere of empathy within an agency, aiding to improve company culture and increase harmony, productivity, and quality of work by demonstrating agency values through action. Lastly, working on campaigns for NFPs can be a dream because it allows teams to flex their creative muscles, typically resulting in better work since there is often less “red tape” around a creative approach than there is with more corporate clients.

It's not just millennials who want to work for companies with a sense of social purpose. Employees of all ages do, too.

Connecting Agencies and NFPs

On the agency side of things, you get to do good and feel good, knowing you’ve helped make a difference. You can inspire your team and build a workplace culture around giving back to your community. It’s not just millennials who want to work for companies with a sense of social purpose. Employees of all ages do, too. When a marketing agency works with NFPs to promote their cause and get their message out into the world, it not only makes the cost of promotion more accessible; it also streamlines the charity’s fundraising efforts.

To do the best and support causes that align the best with your values, you can work with institutions that specialise in incubating NFPs, socially responsible start-ups and more. These groups exist to connect businesses and business leaders with NFPs in need of their services.

Many agencies exploring these alliances wonder what this is going to cost them beyond time and talent. Successful agency leaders know first-hand you must spend money to make money. Marketing isn’t cheap. Fortunately, agencies can help NFPs lower their marketing costs in several ways not necessarily available to corporate clients:

  • Google Ad Grants: NFPs can apply for a Google Ad Grants account, which provides up to £7,000 per month in “free” Google search ads budget for those that qualify.
  • Paid Search Optimisation: Agencies must know how to optimise paid search strategies and keep the client’s quality score high to reduce ad costs. Because so many NFPs aren’t working with someone with this skill, agency mentors often find the space much less competitive and easier to differentiate within.
  • Web Analytics: Agencies can additionally bring analytics capabilities that most NFPs don’t have. Analyse the NFP’s conversion funnels, and track results. Improve landing page design and build remarketing lists. This can further bring costs down.
  • Direct Response Approach: I’ve found that people are more tolerant of a direct response approach in NFP marketing. Because advertising in this space tends to be more straightforward, which often leads to higher response rates, agencies can sometimes lower the NFP’s cost per action (CPA) with this approach. After working with NFPs that needed to attract support from other businesses, we found that the best direct marketing approach is to use a well-crafted letter distributed through registered mail. This way, you’ll know exactly when it is received, and you can better time your follow-up calls and outreach.
  • Digital Media: Agencies already have access to digital media and tools that an NFP would otherwise have to invest in. You can spread the benefit of these tools with no added cost.

It can be very difficult to pull clients away from traditional messaging

The Freedom to Be Creative

Marketing for NFPs can give your team the freedom to be creative and teach them to think outside the box. So far this year in the UK we have seen a resurgence in the number of NFP campaigns. The pregnancy and baby loss charity Tommy’s launched a campaign in time for the 2023 Women’s FA Cup Final, Surfers Against Sewage launched a protest against the UK government and water companies which they claim are not doing enough to protect our environment and the UK Dementia Research Institute raised awareness of dementia’s impact on women by creating a Museum of Memories in the metaverse.

It can be very difficult to pull clients away from traditional messaging, especially if it has performed well in the past. But sometimes taking risks is exactly what helps eliminate ad fatigue, boost engagement and win awards.

Every day your team is faced with the weight of corporate clients who might take an ultra-conservative approach to campaign content. Working for an NFP often takes teams out of that space to instead create showstopping material, while making the world better. Working for NFPs not only breathes new life into the NFP; it can also breathe new life into your organisation so that you can manage all client accounts with a new set of eyes and an expanded sense of purpose.