Word cloud of the marketing terms covered in this blog
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Posted by Linda

Hi everyone - hope you have been all enjoying the prolonged hot spell we've been having here in the UK!

Apologies we appear to have been quiet on the blog front! We have actually been super busy updating lots of our other pages with all new copy and improves layouts and buttons. For example, check out our adopt a tiger page to see the work!

For this latest blog post we have decided to focus on various bits of marketing jargon you will likely hear in the charity sector, and take some time to explain it - especially to help out those new to the sector. It will probably serve as a good run down of terms you'd likely hear in any marketing role, so we hope it proves a useful resource all round!

There is so much to cover so we will do it in a series of ongoing blog posts so it's not too much content in one go. So, let's dive right in!

Above the line (ATL)/ Below the line (BTL) / Through the line (TTL)

All of the above are definitely not peculiar to the charity sector but they do come up a fair bit so you may hear them and if you are wondering what they mean here's a quick explanation.

Above the line (ATL) advertising is where you broadcast a message by any advertising medium to an audience who will include people totally new to you. So this might include train, tube or bus ads. Ads at stations or billboards or ads that may be places on TV.  Because of this the messaging is often broad and invented to engage the widest number of people.

Below the line (BTL) advertising, in contrast to ABL, is more niche focuses which allows a market to tailor a message a little more specifically. So - an advert in a trade publication for a particular business niche would be BTL.

Through the line (TTL) is when marketers employ a mix of both ATL and BTL to reach and target the widest number of people as possible and also to make sure that a member of the public will likely see or hear about your message in more than one place.

Straw man

This is a term you'll hear occasionally when describing a new idea or initiative in its early stages. A team might quickly pull together a 'straw man' which can be used for an initial document or product for testing to verify if it has 'legs'.

To have 'legs'

To have legs is something you might hear marketing folk say when an idea is strong. Conversely you'll hear them say something doesn't have legs if the idea won't really stand up in the real world.

To 'codify' something

An expression used to mean that "...ok, ok - all this sounds great but let's get it written down in an official document in order to codify it'

In our gift

This means it would be an action or activity that is in the remit of a particular person, team, department or organisation. So in parlance it might sound like '...it's in our gift to make this happen to give a great experience to our supporters...'

Wash its face

This is a term used to indicate whether a projects return can at least break even. So, to say "...it didn't wash its face...", would indicate that a project made a loss in money terms.

Activation / Detonation

These are terms used to indicate the manner in which a charity will launch a campaign to the wider world, having likely been working hard behind the scenes with all the planning and preparation that a big marketing campaign requires.


This is usually something you might hear your digital team say when it comes to releasing a new update or piece of content / functionality to your charity's website.

Content marketing

This is where you are trying to draw new traffic to your website by creating articles that relate to a segment of the publish you wish to target. So, for example, if your charity wished to draw new people interested in the plight of panda bears, you might create a series of blog posts or web pages on that subject. You might rely on a search engine like Google finding this content and hopefully ranking it high enough in organic search to get some visitors to it but you might also boost traffic by perhaps promoting it on social media or even running paid ads to drive more visitors.

Wheel and spokes

This is where there is a team at the centre of the wheel who work closely with members of staff in other teams or departments to progress initiatives that have a close tie in with the core work of the team at the centre if the wheel. So for example a charity's digital team might allow other members of staff in different teams have access to update the website or engage supporters on social media channels. But the core team always trains and supervised on the work on the 'spokes'.


This is where your charity might have a big project it wants to deliver. There will likely be a big enough budget to warrant the need to have a number of agencies pitch for the work. So, that's what the agencies in this case would do - they would 'pitch' to your organisation in the hope that you will choose them as an agency partner to deliver the project. Some large projects often require multiple agencies to work with charities at the same time.

Text to give

Where your fundraising model has a component where supporters may text in to give a donation to charity using their mobile phone. Commonly used on the sort of advertising you frequently see on trains.

Text to get

In terms of the types of advertising just mentioned for 'text to give' this is a newer technique to bring new supporters on board. You might have them text in to get a free information booklet about a health related subject, or a fundraising pack for a big event that they hope you'll sign up for or even bee-friendly flower seeds you can plant to help bee populations - this was a recent campaign by Friends of the Earth.

Keep powder dry

This is where you might want to tell people something of your plans but perhaps not everything. So you therefore are keeping some of your powder dry. We guess it comes from gunpowder in that what you are holding back might carry some impact.

Sweat the assets

This is where you might produce something for one channel, say, a print magazine. Then you take some of that content or imagery and rework it for an online channel. That could be social media or a web page for example.

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Tax exempt status of registered charities and online security

All of the charities listed on this website are registered with the Charity Commission in the United Kingdom. Like any business, charities have to submit Tax Returns to HM Revenue and Customs, but all donations are declared and the charities do not have to pay tax on them. This means all your donation to charity will help to further their vision and goals.

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Each charity's registered number can be seen prominently displayed on the bottom of their respective pages on this site and underneath their logos.

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