Getting results on a tight budget

By David Petrie

During lockdown the Not for Profit committee had some serious discussions about some of the issues facing communications professionals working in our sector. Among the challenges which we identified was the problem of working with a very tight budget. There can be few comms professionals in the not-for-profit world who are not familiar with a work environment where the pressure is to do more with less.   
With many of our members working for organisations where both resources and budgets are limited, we decided that this was a topic that required further examination. So in September, we organised a lunchtime webinar on the subject of Delivering Successful Campaigns on a Budget.     

We were very grateful that Matt Batten, Director of Communications and Engagement at the Diocese of Llandaff, agreed to talk us through how he and his team had delivered a successful lockdown project that brought in £250,000 plus on a budget of just a few thousand pounds.  
It turned out to be one of the NFP Group’s most popular events and it’s really interesting to note that many of those who signed up were working in organisations where they were the only comms professionals. 
Matt began by explaining the situation which the church faced when lockdown kicked in. The church had no digital giving focus and was reliant on donations from congregations on a Sunday. But with church buildings closed due to Covid there was an urgent need to move to digital.
The challenge was to have a strategy that would engage with church members and encourage them to donate to the church through online giving platforms. As Matt described it, a strategy is a means of moving from where you are to where you need or want to be. 

It is important to know your audience. Church members tend to be older than the population in general so trying to reach them through Instagram or TikTok wasn’t going to work. The use of Facebook was crucial in reaching this audience. 
It was also important to communicate effectively with the clergy, many of whom were feeling stressed by how their role was quickly changing. Matt was keen to inspire the clergy to influence behaviour change and to drive forward the move to digital giving. Matt was keen to let the clergy know that his work was geared towards supporting them and making their jobs easier. 
Prayer videos and simple infographics were created to help spread the message. Although a podcast was produced, Matt decided that it hadn’t delivered results and couldn’t justify the resources needed.
Evaluation is always a key element in any communications campaign. The standout result from this exercise was that in excess of £250,000 in givings had been generated, which is a fantastic result by any standards.     

Matt gave us a lot of information in his presentation, but for me, a few bullet points stood out:
You need a strategy more than you need a budget, 
If it isn’t working then ditch it,
Make it easy for people to give you feedback and 
Say “thank you!” 

The recording of Delivering Successful Campaigns on a Budget is available on the CPD database and is worth 5 CPD points. 
David Petrie is a PR consultant and member of the CIPR’s Not-for-Profit committee.