It’s worth noting before getting into this article that this is aimed at larger organisations and less at charities like the SPOT project (who we happen to be huge supporters of at Freshly Grounded).
Think of those charities that you see on billboards, or jumping into your letterbox, or even on TV when the seasonal period begins. As big as these charities are, it can often feel that they’re 10 steps behind when it comes to mainstream branding and marketing.
I often feel like I live in peculiar state which somehow perfectly balances my two lives. On the one hand, I live the life of a Muslim influencer with thousands of people seeing my videos, posts and stories. On the other hand, I’m a completely normal nine-to-fiver, working under my brother’s marketing agency dealing with clients such as dell, deliveroo and hilton. Seldom do I find these two lives meeting one another, which makes sense I guess; after all they are completely different.
Or so I thought.
In Ramadan 2018, I was contracted by a fairly large Islamic charity to manage their marketing department for the month. Originally they were meeting me just as a Muslim influencer to promote a campaign, that was until they found out I worked in marketing. They wanted huge growth and decided that I was the man to make it happen (with the permission of Allah, ofcourse). My role there meant creating growth in all types of digital awareness from emails to social media adverts to influencer marketing. It was the first time that I was directly combining my two lives of being a Muslim influencer and a marketing manager, at the same time.
With Muslim organizations being at the forefront of the charity sector it’s no secret the the majority of ‘sponsorship’ enquiries for Muslim influencers come from these charities. With me being no different, I’ve become very used to seeing floods of Muslim charities in my inbox asking me to help promote their amazing work. But after working on this campaign in Ramadan, I could finally say that I had experienced what it was like to be on the other side for once.
After successfully running the campaign, we raised just shy of £100,000 in the one-month period. Influencer marketing was a huge tool and the primary way in which we made this happen. And not only did I pay the influencers, I refused to let them do it for free, even the ones who were adamant they didn’t want payment. I know what you’re thinking, am I crazy? Perhaps. But that’s an article for another day. Here’s why I was adamant to pay:
1.They’re Putting in Work
One of the most common things you hear as an influencer, is people saying ‘do it for the sake of Allah’. Whilst I agree with the above sentiment and I definitely think that the best scenario would be if an influencer promoted your campaign for free, there are huge flaws in the above statement. Let’s say you have asked an influencer to promote your amazing campaign by making a video, speaking at an event and sharing the event posters on their social media.
This means that the influencer has to now spend (at least) an hour making this video, using their own equipment and time, then edit said video which can take anywhere from a few hours to an entire day and then travel to your event which may be outside of their city, deliver a talk which had to have been prepared beforehand and then travel back home.
Asking them to do all of that for free may be a stretch. Now I know some may say “but you shouldn’t make money from charities, why don’t you get another job to fund your outgoings so you can do this stuff for free.”
The above argument is flawed for many reasons. Let’s say the person did have their own job, meaning that they couldn’t put as much time into their content, it would probably mean that they wouldn’t have the social clout that they have now anyway and therefore you wouldn’t be approaching them for promotion in the first place.
The second reason the ‘do it for the sake of Allah’ statement is dangerous, is because it almost assumes that the person doesn’t do anything for the sake of Allah. And that you are giving them an opportunity to do so. We all know that giving charity in private is one of the loftiest acts, for all we know, that same person who we backbite for taking payments to do promotions may in fact be donating that entire money to the charity privately. And that is their right to do so, but we (the charity) shouldn’t be the ones enforcing that.
2. Quality of Work
When you ask someone to do you a favour, they’re doing something for you out of the kindness of their own heart. They’re not necessarily getting anything back directly from you and therefore naturally they have a relaxed approach to the situation. Take a basic example, why is it that we offer our children a sweet if they clean their bedroom? We know that if there is a reward at the end of that task, the child is likely to perform a lot better, more efficiently and produce a higher quality of work (in this case being a super clean bedroom!).
Now I know that technically speaking there is a reward when this influencer promotes your charity, and the reward (by the will of Allah) is in the afterlife. But we’re talking psychology here.
How many times have you asked an influencer to promote your campaign and when they agree, the results you saw were way less than you expected, leaving you baffled. The number of followers this person has just does not relate to the amount of people, or lack thereof, who converted (came to our event, donated to the campaign, clicked on our site).
Furthermore, how many times have you asked an influencer to promote your campaign, they agreed but then they simply forgot to push it out? Sounds familiar.
When I carried out the Ramadan campaign, I ensured that influencers took payment because this altered the influencer psychology from being a favour to being a job. It also buys you leverage. Now that you have paid the influencer, you can send them a document by email which outlines all of the things you need them to do, afterall you have paid them for it. The list could look something like this:
- Make one Instagram story post (with swipe up feature to our link)
- Put our link in your bio for 24 hours
- Mention our charity in the first 3 minutes of your YouTube video
You could even provide key points that they need to cover so that they don’t miss out on your important campaign info. Example:
Don’t Forget to Mention:
- Our campaign link
- The date of the event
- How much tickets cost
By making some sort of transaction you’re able to set deliverables and KPI’s (key performance indicators) that you otherwise are unable to. And by ensuring your campaign link is in the right places (such as the instagram bio) you’re increasing your chances of conversion hugely.
3. The Maths
As an influencer, I often hear that “budgets are tight” and therefore “we are unable to pay you for this”.
If that sounds like something you have said, your math is all wrong.
Remember when I mentioned that we raised a little under £100,000 in the space of a month? Well what I forgot to mention was that we spent somewhere around £5,000 on influencers. Thats a near-enough £95,000 profit! Why? Because we weren’t shy to pay.
Here’s how we did it: we paid each influencer their individual amount and asked every influencer to raise £5,000 in the month. Now let’s say for example that we paid one influencer £500. That’s a £500 investment that has made a £4,500 profit. You know how many lives that can save? How many mosques it can build? How many orphans that could feed?
The problem is that we see ‘spending’ as the very last option. But by doing that we’re unable to progress and increase the funds that could go towards your beautiful causes.
Those were just three reasons why I found that paying influencers had a positive effect on the income of a charity. Now the above article may come across like I am saying that influencers are money-hungry, selfish people who want to take money from charities. That’s not what I am saying. It is in our religion to assume the best of people and I have heard many stories where people have donated their money to charity and even to the charity that paid them. But that is something that is between them and Allah and we should never judge a person for taking payment for the work that they produce.
Also – I am not saying that you MUST pay people, even when they want to do something feesabeelillah, the above article just outlined the reasons why I found this method positive in my experience and led to more lives being saved.