• Emily Malone

Inbound Marketing: The Future of Your Charity’s Mission

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

In the September 2015 ‘Regulating Fundraising for the Future’ report by Sir Stuart Etherington, he discusses how charities need to change the ways that they’re marketing their missions.

Charities, just like businesses, don’t want to risk damaging themselves in the public eye, which is what’s happening if they’re still only using outbound marketing today. Statistics have proven that creating a bond between donors and mission is a far better way to get people to not only care about charities, but trust in them too.

‘Charities need to view and approach fundraising no longer as just a money-raising technique, but as a way in which they can provide a connection between the donor and the cause.’ 

Trust is vital for the sustainability of charity organisations, as donors want to know that the money they’re giving is actually doing its job. I know that I wonder sometimes. Etherington says:

 ‘…we welcome any move that shifts fundraising away from aggressive or pushy techniques and instead towards inspiring people to give and creating long-term, sustainable relationships.’

He knows that these days, happy, passionate donors with a strong, long-lasting relationship with the charity will donate time and again, which will turn into word of mouth, and ultimately more support.

Etherington goes on to say that ‘charities need to show that they put donors’ interests firmly at the heart of their fundraising activities.’ The best way to do this is to introduce inbound to their marketing strategies.

Historically, charities have been known to put their cause and themselves first, not really thinking about how annoying they might be to the victims of all their outbound methods.

The balance between outbound and inbound methods is more important than ever for these guys, as supporter habits and expectations have changed. This means that the marketing habits of charities need to adjust to that by becoming less of a giant megaphone, and more engaging and conversational.


Here’s some examples of inbound marketing from charity:water:

charity: water and the power of creative storytelling and proof

charity: water partnered with HubSpot, readjusted their focus from the cause to the people, and now even offers its donors a way to track the money they give through the organisation’s Dollars to Projects program.

The goal for these guys is to create a database for long-time supporters, so they can see the number of people, communities and villages touched by their contributions. This allows each and every supporter to have a story to share about their individual donations.

One of the fundamental principles of inbound marketing is building an online community of people who love and share your brand with others, then turning their engagement into action.

charity:water created a great new marketing plan to make their efforts more personalised, which in turn made their entire approach much more likeable and engaging.

Use of Instagram


Telling real stories on Instagram captures the impact of the donors’ contributions. charity:water actually travels to India to capture all these images for their Instagram. Now, while not all organisations have the ability to travel to the field for their campaigns, you probably have access to site volunteers who can take the pictures for you.

Just by looking at the sheer amount of followers and the comments shared on each photo reveals the positive impact of using images in marketing, and that’s before we even look at the donations.

They also have a dedicated page on their website for storytelling because they’ve seen the proof in the donations. It shows that these real stories inspire more people to act.

Use of video

Rachel Beckwith’s Mom Visits Ethiopia. from charity: water on Vimeo.

Charity:water decided, right from the start, that they would put their supporters at the main focus of their organisation by empowering them to tell their own personal stories of how they became connected to the water crisis.

This particular video shows the dedication of a little girl who raised a huge amount of money for charity:water. It’s an emotional one, so be warned!

Generally, they share the amazing stories of what their supporters do and how it affects the villages and communities, creating a direct link between donor and mission.



These are just some of the inspiring ways in which charity:water has grasped inbound marketing. This in no way discredits the effectiveness of outbound marketing, as methods such as ‘door-knocking’ and flyering do have their positive effects.  However, by only using outbound methods you will begin to lose trust from your supporters. Inbound helps bridge the gap between supporters and cause, and helps to build trust in your organisation.

The more trust there is, the more lives you touch; the more lives you touch, the more lives they touch.

I’d love to chat more about it in the comments section, or if you like you can tweet us!


Here at oe:gen, we believe providing helpful content is a great, non-invasive way to attract visitors to your site. Instead of pushing your product or services onto anyone and everyone, why not let customers find you with inbound marketing?