Small Charity Marketing Case Study

How to get 103 volunteer enquiries for less than the cost of a newspaper advert.

It’s true: we gained 103 individual volunteering enquiries for a small charity. The advertising cost totalled £252.10, a figure less than the cost of a half-page newspaper advertisement. Five local newspapers quoted the charity for a half-page single insert. Prices ranged between £335.84 plus VAT all the way up to £701.16 plus VAT.

Home-Start Central Bedfordshire is a family support charity based in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. They have been operating in the county for more than 30 years. The charity’s support services are delivered through home visiting volunteers. There are only a few members of staff, the majority of which are volunteer co-ordinators. As such, Home-Start is a voluntary organisation at its core.

Volunteers are harder for the small charity to come by than they used to be. Staff are aware that other charities are successfully using online marketing to promote their organisations. However, the current staff does not have the experience, skills or time to carry out marketing in house. Additionally, advertising budgets are tight and need approval from a board of trustees.

I specialise in helping organisations gain enquiries from defined target markets. I’ve summarised the challenges and tasks I undertook for Home-Start Central Bedfordshire below.


  • To gain volunteer enquiries from a specific target market(s), i.e. Bedfordshire mothers (of children over the age of pre-school) and Bedfordshire grandmothers
  • Restricted advertising budgets. The less advertising spend, the better
  • Limited involvement from charity staff members due to time constraints
  • Tracking is essential in order to show performance
  • Scalability. It would be beneficial to be able to reproduce the marketing campaign in the future, possibly scaling up to reach new audiences.

“Our small charity could not function without volunteers from across the county. Competition for volunteers is becoming fierce and we knew that outside expertise would be essential for our organisation both now and for the future.” – Home-Start Central Bedfordshire.

Small Charity Strategy

We knew that a focus online would allow us to have more control over the performance of our marketing efforts than traditional print methods, e.g. leaflets, newspaper adverts. Online marketing also has the additional benefits of providing data that we can use in future volunteering campaigns.

The actions we took:

  1. Research & Analysis
    1. Seeking an in-depth understanding of the benefits of volunteering for the charity was essential.
    2. An analysis of existing volunteering marketing messages and available materials, e.g. images and graphics.
  2. Website
    1. Design and creation of volunteering landing pages with a focus on converting visitors into enquiries.
  3. Social media
    1. Analysis of the use of social media by the target market.
    2. Design, creation and management of volunteering advertisements for use on Facebook.
  4. Google
    1. Creation and management of volunteering advertisements on the Google Adwords platform.


My experience gleaned from working on similar projects informed us that the website would be a key area of focus. As such, we broke the tasks down into two categories: building website traffic and getting website enquiries.

Building website traffic was a relatively simple task. I have extensive knowledge of online marketing having managed many campaigns. My primary tactic was to ensure that the advert targeting was as defined as possible to ensure we could keep costs down.

Getting website enquiries from visitors is complex. Once again, I relied on my knowledge and experience with past work to build landing pages that were designed to convert visitors into enquiries. In order to track the enquiries, I created events for contact form submissions using Google Analytics.

The Home-Start Central Bedfordshire website runs on WordPress. This gave us a range of options for limiting barriers to enquiries, including improving site load speed. My team has an extensive knowledge of WordPress having used it for many website builds, including the creation of websites for Home-Start Southport & Formby and Home-Start Goole. As a tactic, we decided early on to work within the constraints of WordPress and the website’s theme to solve conversion issues.


Social media

  • Reached 11598 with our Facebook adverts
  • Resulted in 434 sessions on the website from 384 users
  • Total cost on Facebook: £252.10


  • Resulted in 221 sessions on the website from 209 users
  • Total cost on Adwords of £364.11
  • We utilised the Google Ads grant for non-profits. This meant that the £364.11 advert spend for Home-Start Central Bedfordshire was actually free.


  • Altogether we had a total of 655 sessions from 593 users
  • These 655 sessions resulted in 103 volunteering enquiries
  • Because the Adwords were free, our cost per enquiry was just £2.45
  • A conversion rate for the volunteering landing page of 17% (103 enquiries / 593).


We did not track telephone enquiries, only contact form submissions through the website. Therefore, we do not know how many or if there were enquiries gained via phone calls. This is something we will be aiming to change in future campaigns.

I also split tested images in the Facebook adverts. This lowered our overall click-through rate but benefitted the campaign greatly for future use. We now know which images performed best and I can use these in subsequent campaigns, thus improving future performance for the small charity.


As you can imagine, Home-Start Central Bedfordshire was very happy with the results. The strategy we implemented can be used on a regular or ad-hoc basis to gain volunteering enquiries as needed. I believe that there is room for improvement and have identified areas of the campaign we can test in order to improve results further.

There are many benefits to utilising online marketing, especially when combined with knowledge and expertise. I look forward to helping more charities and not for profits, to work together, please get in touch.