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TLDR: EA organisations are forfeiting impact if they don’t take marketing seriously. User-friendly are offering a free and friendly ‘sense-check’ consultancy call to all EA-aligned organisations. Email Letstalk@userfriendly.org.uk to enquire.


By not properly addressing the role of marketing in the effective altruism movement, there is substantial impact being forfeited; potentially ~20% impact loss, though in some cases, likely even more. Our efforts, no matter how rational or impact-seeking, can only create the desired change if they are effectively communicated and disseminated to our intended audience. Marketing provides us with the tools to bridge the gap between intention and action, between knowledge and support, and between ideas and real-world impact. If we continue to communicate without adequate marketing consideration, we are consistently short-changing our impact.

The effective altruist approach is highly analytical. Due to this, we often assume that our intended audience won't be impacted by marketing, however, everyone is (yes, even you are) impacted by aesthetic, by language choice, by an interface and experience quality. You may not think of your organisation as a ‘brand’ with a ‘customer-base’ trying to ‘sell’, but you are still beholden to all the same rules that consumer facing brands are as these are derived from human-nature and our shared (biassed) psychology.

Below I will highlight some key research and how EA organisations can take advantage of the findings.


5 key pieces of research on why marketing matters;

"The Long and Short of It" by Les Binet and Peter Field:[1]

This influential research study analysed over 1,400 advertising campaigns and demonstrated the importance of long-term brand building and balancing it with short-term activation. The findings indicate that organisations that invest in long-term brand building experience significant increases in brand-related key performance indicators, market share growth, and profitability.


How can EA organisations benefit from this:

Firstly, it’s important to note that most organisations don’t have a marketing budget - so this is step one. What this should be will vary for each organisation, but I would expect a rough gauge of 10-30% of your annual budget to be on marketing.

For companies that allocate 60% or more of their marketing budget to long-term brand building activities achieve a 140% increase in brand-related metrics. Additionally, organisations that strike the right balance between long-term and short-term campaigns experience 2.5x higher market share growth and 3x higher profitability growth compared to those with an unbalanced approach. For EA organisations, this could translate into higher donation volumes, fellowship applications or related organisational objectives. Even less directly public-facing organisations will rely on long-term brand building as without being known or being salient, the organisation objectives will suffer no matter how effective your core work is.


"How Brands Grow" by Byron Sharp and the Ehrenberg Bass Institute:[2]

Sharp's research challenges traditional marketing assumptions and provides evidence-based insights into brand growth and audience behaviour. The study emphasises the significance of reaching a broad audience and creating strong mental availability through consistent and distinctive branding. The research findings indicate that organisations focusing on broadening their audience base can achieve a 60% to 80% increase in brand penetration and a 25% to 50% increase in market share. Moreover, improving mental availability through consistent and distinctive branding contributes to a 10% to 25% increase in market share growth.

How can EA organisations benefit from this:

Just like any other entity, EA organisations rely on being known and salient to be successful. And it’s important to remember that whilst you may not operate like a business that sells, there is still a competitive space. For instance, a careers advice organisation might not consider themselves competing for top-of-mind, but they are competing against parental advice, institutional advice, government schemes, work placements… There is always something your organisation is competing against for attention, strong distinctive branding is your solution to being the one people remember. Even in word of mouth at EAGs, it matters if someone can’t remember what you’re called, “It’s like High Impact something-or-other…”

To read more on distinctive brand assets, I’d recommend looking at the work of Jenni Romaniuk.


IPA Databank by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA):[3]

The IPA Databank is a renowned collection of case studies that demonstrates the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. The research findings reveal that emotional advertising campaigns outperform rational campaigns in terms of market share growth and profitability. Emotional campaigns generate twice the market share growth and 31% higher profitability growth compared to rational campaigns. Additionally, Kantar research[4] suggests that the quality of the creative has an impact multiplier of 12, indicating its significant influence on campaign success.

How can EA organisations benefit from this:

Creative campaigns are 7x more effective in driving business success, leading to an 11% increase in market share growth. By focusing on high-quality, creative advertising that resonates with the audience, EA organisations can tap into the potential impact multiplier of 12, harnessing the full power of marketing to amplify their message and drive even greater positive change within the effective altruism movement. We recently saw this happen when we produced marketing ads for a campaign that achieved a 560% increase in applications compared to the previous year which was conducted entirely 'in-house’.


"The Effects of Advertising Creativity on Customer Perceptions and Brand Equity" by JoAndrea Hoegg and Joseph W. Alba:[5]

This study highlights the positive impact of creative advertising on audience perceptions and brand equity. The findings demonstrate that creatively designed ads capture attention and enhance perceptions of brand quality, uniqueness, and trustworthiness. In fact, the study reveals that creative advertising can lead to a remarkable 30% increase in audience perceptions of brand quality, a 25% increase in perceptions of brand uniqueness, and a 20% increase in perceptions of brand trustworthiness. These significant improvements in audience attitudes towards the brand can have a profound impact on audience behaviour and brand preference.


How can EA organisations benefit from this:

The study's findings suggest that organisations could potentially see a 20% increase in audience preference for their organisation, which can translate into increased donations, volunteer participation, and overall support for their work.


"The Impact of Branding on Consumer Behavior" by Kevin Lane Keller:[6]

Keller's research explores the significance of branding in influencing audience behaviour. The study reveals that a strong brand identity and positive brand associations have a significant impact on audience decision-making. Target audiences are more likely to choose brands they are familiar with and perceive to be of high quality. Branding plays a crucial role in building trust, loyalty, and preference among audiences, leading to increased market share and audience lifetime value. In fact, organisations that invest in long-term brand building experience an average increase in market share of 5% to 7%.

How can EA organisations benefit from this:

By investing in long-term brand building, organisations can increase brand recognition, credibility, and trust within the effective altruism community and beyond. This can lead to higher engagement, loyalty, and support from their target audience. Implementing strategies to reach a broad audience and creating mental availability through consistent and distinctive branding can amplify the organisation's impact and expand their reach within the community and beyond. Moreover, organisations that successfully build strong brand associations can experience an average increase of 20% to 25% in commitment to the organisation's objectives.


It is crucial for organisations within the effective altruism movement to start taking marketing more seriously. If a research methodology or policy change could potentially result in a ~20% increase in impact, it would undoubtedly be prioritised and pursued vigorously. So, why should marketing be any different? The evidence is clear: investing in strategic marketing approaches can lead to increased brand recognition, engagement, loyalty, and ultimately, a greater positive impact. It's time to embrace the power of marketing as a force multiplier for our cause, and elevate its status within our organisations.

Free consultation

We recognise that it can be hard to know where to start on your marketing strategy, ‘Should we rebrand?’, ‘Does our website have a good user-journey?’, ‘How do we create a marketing budget?’, ‘How else could we reach our target audience?’... Because of this, we’re pleased to be offering a free consultation call with organisations to briefly explore what marketing could do for them, where they might focus their efforts and gain insight into how we’d direct your organisation's marketing focus.

If you’d like to take advantage of this service, please email to book at Letstalk@userfriendly.org.uk.


Additional research

These additional research studies provide further insights and detailed analysis on various aspects of effective marketing, including audience behaviour, advertising creativity, brand equity, social networks, and more. They delve into specific areas related to the power of marketing.

Chandon, P., Morwitz, V. G., & Reinartz, W. J. (2005). Do Intentions Really Predict Behavior? Self-Generated Validity Effects in Survey Research. Journal of Marketing, 69(2), 1-14. doi:10.1509/jmkg.2005.69.2.1

Dolan, R. J. (2017). Emotion in Marketing: What Drives Customer Behavior? Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/11/emotion-in-marketing-what-drives-customer-behavior

Iacobucci, D., & Calder, B. J. (2009). Does Artistic Advertising Drive Stock Market Returns? Journal of Marketing Research, 46(6), 699-712. doi:10.1509/jmkr.46.6.699

Keller, K. L., & Lehmann, D. R. (2006). Brands and Branding: Research Findings and Future Priorities. Marketing Science, 25(6), 740-759. doi:10.1287/mksc.1050.0153

Kotler, P., Kartajaya, H., & Setiawan, I. (2010). Marketing 3.0: From Products to Customers to the Human Spirit. John Wiley & Sons.

Macdonald, E. K., & Sharp, B. M. (2000). Brand Awareness Effects on Consumer Decision Making for a Common, Repeat Purchase Product: A Replication. Journal of Business Research, 48(1), 5-15. doi:10.1016/S0148-2963(98)00076-0

Tellis, G. J., & Johnson, E. J. (2007). The Value of Quality and the Quality of Value. Journal of Marketing Research, 44(2), 209-218. doi:10.1509/jmkr.44.2.209

Van den Bulte, C., & Wuyts, S. (2007). Social Networks and Marketing. Marketing Science, 26(6), 812-826. doi:10.1287/mksc.1070.0257

Vargo, S. L., & Lusch, R. F. (2004). Evolving to a New Dominant Logic for Marketing. Journal of Marketing, 68(1), 1-17. doi:10.1509/jmkg.

Yoo, B., & Donthu, N. (2001). Developing and Validating a Multidimensional Consumer-Based Brand Equity Scale. Journal of Business Research, 52(1), 1-14. doi:10.1016/S0148-2963(99)00098-3


  1. ^

    Binet, L., & Field, P. (2013). The Long and Short of It: Balancing Short and Long-Term Marketing Strategies. Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

  2. ^

    Sharp, B. (2010). How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don't Know. Oxford University Press.

  3. ^

    Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. (n.d.). IPA Databank. Retrieved from https://www.ipa.co.uk/databank

  4. ^

    Kantar (2020). Reviewing the Top 10 Drivers of Advertising Profitability. Retrieved from: https://www.kantar.com/inspiration/advertising-media/the-advertising-multipliers-that-matter-are-not-what-marketers-think

  5. ^

    Hoegg, J. A., & Alba, J. W. (2007). The Effects of Advertising Creativity on Customer Perceptions and Brand Equity. Journal of Advertising, 36(4), 57-70. doi:10.2753/JOA0091-3367360404

  6. ^

    Keller, K. L. (2009). The Impact of Branding on Consumer Behavior. Handbook of Marketing Decision Models, 287-320. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-68829-8_11





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Thanks for posting this - in my sessions with varying EA orgs, I'm finding myself trying to prove the point of why they should be investing in branding and marketing as an effective way to increase funding potential and impact. In order to function like a non-profit not exclusive to EA funding, this is vital for the organization's survival. I'll definitely refer people back here as it comes up!

Thanks Deena! Really appreciate the support.

I'm also agree that marketing should have more preference in the EA community. Thanks for all the numbers, it helps put a generalized sentiment into tangible data. A few thoughts:

(1) Is more value created by better branding for individual organizations vs. the EA movement as a whole? Better branding for individual organizations is definitely more immediate and tangible. However, this the branding of individual organizations (as well as perhaps generalized EA branding), also has long-term effects to increase awareness of the EA movement as a whole. If you think of the competition for the EA movement as a whole, it's the non-EA non-profit movement but also just, anything anyone could spend their money or time on! Obviously there is a huge untapped market here, and I imagine better marketing will help us tap into it more.

(2) I've had the sentiment for some time that we could utilize emotion much, much more to increase awareness of our causes, our organizations, our donations. Think–for instance–website with full bleed imagery of (gosh, at the risk of sounding offensive, sorry) animals on factory farms vs. animals in their natural, happy, free state. What we see more often is just some text with some data. Anyway, thanks for the study reference regarding emotion here.

To sum it up: If many billionaires were exposed to very well designed emotional EA-promoting content, backed by amazing reasoning as well, imagine how much more traction this movement could gain.

Thanks for your comment Melissa.

In terms of EA as a movement or individual orgs, I would vote for the latter. They typically will have clearer CTAs and modes of supporting their target audiences. Whereas we've seen many challenges to having one unified movement that must represent us all, and us all it. The fundementals of the approach can guide and inform the organisations, but I'm not sure 'the movement' needs to be a something we present to the gen-pop vs organisations, though of course I wouldn't see this as an either/or decision. Both need to improve the marketing work, but perhaps for different reasons.

This is fantastic. Those of us who believe EA needs more art come from virtually an identical motivation - it communicates and amplifies all the great stuff that EA has spent so much time and sweat and money creating...why leave so much impact on the table when you can amplify it to a waiting world?  There's more of course with art, but that's a big part of it. 

As another commenter said, this should stand as an EA Marketing reference for all of us...and with so much data, James proves he knows how to speak to his audience! Now we also have to speak to those other audiences that don't want data but want emotion and intellectual inspiration, people just waiting to send in a donation or join a local EA group or move overseas with one of our charities. 

And speaking of inspiration, wait until you see what we've got in store for the "ea-X-hibition" art exhibit at EAGx Berlin in September...the piece we are putting up will blow everyone away and other conferences are already asking for it. Tell your friends in Europe. 

Thanks for your message Jeffrey, always great to hear from fellow creatives.

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