Brathay Trust: a lesson in crisis comms

How small charity Brathay Trust responded to suddenly being headline news and receiving thousands of donations.

In April 2018 small youth charity Brathay Trust in Cumbria had three runners competing in the London Marathon. One of them, Matt Campbell aged 29, tragically collapsed at mile 22.5 and later died.

The charity received an unprecedented response. To date Matt’s JustGiving page has raised in excess of £368,000 (+Gift Aid) from over 31,800 supporters. Thousands of runners across the country also pledged to run the remaining 3.7 miles to #FinishForMatt.

The charity quickly had to deal with the news, putting aside their own shock and grief from losing someone so active in their community. Here, Peter Grenville, Brathay’s marketing executive shares what happened and the lessons they learnt about crisis comms.

Brathay's website showing four news stories

The first day

I was told of Matt’s death first thing on Monday morning. We were aware that the London Marathon organisers were due release the news later in the morning. Colleagues were already in touch with Matt’s family, so we had a couple of hours to start working on our response.

We have a crisis comms plan in place for dealing with a major incident, either during one of our programmes with children and young people, or for something affecting our offices and staff. We also have a plan in place for the ASICS Windermere Marathon, which we organise every May as part of our fundraising. Whilst both were useful, this was a scenario we hadn’t specifically planned for.

We were startled by the large number of enquiries and requests for interviews/statements, which slowed our response a little whilst we prioritised. By the afternoon we had a short statement on our website and social media channels, and our tribute to Matt up later in the day. Both were posted as lead items on our homepage, and also our Challenge Events website, which had been carrying the story of Matt running to raise funds for us.

It became clear very quickly that people touched by the story were donating to Matt’s JustGiving page. Whilst we had some extra donations to appeals on our website, we rapidly decided it was better to focus on the JustGiving route. Although we had an unprecedented level of interest in us (our website had more hits in a day than we normally get in a year) we were aware that people were donating to ‘Matt’s Charity”, rather that specifically ‘to Brathay’, but they were checking us out.

How we worked together

Before the end of the first day it was clear that the those of us dealing with the unprecedented interest in Brathay needed to step away from our regular roles to work together to respond. Some decamped to a meeting room. We scheduled regular twice-daily meet-ups to check what was needed. A large whiteboard became our low-tech method of tracking things that needed doing. We prioritised tasks that required immediate attention, whilst compiling a list of less time-sensitive items that also needed responding to.

Although Brathay has around 100 staff, we are spread across several sites in the north of England. Pulling this group together, especially with our own flagship fundraiser, the ASICS Windermere Marathon, just a few weeks away, did mean we had to delay some planned activity. Organisationally, our colleagues absolutely got the importance of what we were doing and left us to get on with what was needed.

Throughout the whole period we were conscious that Brathay were not the ‘owners’ of anything that was going on. We needed to respect Matt’s family, who are huge supporters of our work, by not making statements about what was going on without consulting with them first.

As a team, we agreed what to write and when. Once one of the team had drafted something for our websites, this was circulated and changes suggested and agreed. We did this largely by instinct – monitoring how the conversation and messages on social media were changing and ensuring we regularly responded – conscious that there was a lot of attention on what the recipient charity of the large sums of money being donated were saying. We wrote updates on day two, on day four and at the end of the first week (30 April) and shared these widely across our channels.

Brathay - one of the total updates on Twitter

By the end of the second week, we were able to return to our normal work, but still with an elevated level of activity and a clear understanding of the need to continue our response.

#FinishforMatt

After just a couple of days, the huge social media campaign to #FinishForMatt #RunForMatt (and some other variants) really took off. Messages and donations switched from being about simply remembering Matt to being about ‘completing’ the Marathon for him, as individuals or in groups. The London Marathon team really got involved with this too. People everywhere were organising runs. We did our best to contact the more significant ones, including those taking place in London, and one local to our HQ in Cumbria.

Interview requests came thick and fast. Our Chief Exec was on BBC Breakfast twice, as well as appearing on other news channels, interviews with local and national radio, and newspapers. Channel 5 produced and shared this short video across their social channels.

One thing that worked particularly well was identifying that people completing their 3.7miles and donating could use a text-based image on their social media posts to demonstrate their support. We quickly put together some simple graphics, loaded them onto our website, and posted about them regularly – it was great to see them being used widely.

Getting the tone right

We were very aware of our place in everything that was happening, and wanted to ensure that our responses showed respect to Matt and his family. The response was incredible, but we didn’t want to appear to be trying to ‘cash in’, or treat the situation as an opportunity to ask people to give. At the simplest level, everyone involved at Brathay really wanted to make sure we did the right thing.

I think what we said genuinely reflected how we felt – amazed, stunned and very grateful for each and every donation. I was keen for us to think about this from the point of view of someone donating. What would they want us hear from us?

Brathay tweet - if we have missed saying thank you to you, our apologies. We've never had so many tweets. Please know we are grateful to each and every one of you

We wanted to show our gratitude to those donating. We put in a lot of time outside normal office hours to try and respond to everyone on social media who were telling us they’d donated. We couldn’t manage it entirely – there was just too many messages – but we did as many as we could. We also tweeted general thank you messages to the running community who had organised special events.

Tweet thanking supporter for walking the 3.7 for Matt

We also published galleries of photos from our #RunforMatt events on Facebook, shared a few very short videos on Twitter including this one of the finish line which has had almost 1000 views and this one which has had almost 8000. We also put a selection of strong images on our Instagram account.

Brathay's instagram - image of a young man in a bright yellow t-shirt completing the run

Keeping up

Keeping up was tricky! We had five people from different parts of the charity working on this full-time, as well as many others involved to varying degrees. The extra hours put in by those involved ensured we responded in a way we were happy with. We discussed using an external agency to help with our social media response but in the end felt we could better maintain the appropriate tone by doing it ourselves.

Building new relationships

It’s early for us to fully understand the long-term effects and if we have developed lasting new relationships. However, more than 5000 of the 31,800 people who donated via JustGiving ticked that they wanted to hear from us. So we have emailed them updating them on the latest total and some of our thoughts about Matt’s legacy. They are now on our database, so will receive our regular updates.

We’ve also built relationships with those involved in the #MilesForMatt #RunForMatt campaigns and strengthened those held with local and national media. We gained a lot of new followers on social media. Of course, we know that the interest in us will inevitably wane for some people, but we hope that many will want to continue to hear from us, and understand what we do.

Brathay graphic explaining what they do

Matt’s legacy

The amount of money raised in Matt’s name is significant to us. We need to think carefully about how best to use it to ensure we have maximum impact on the lives of children and young people. We will consider both our charitable remit and the wishes of the Campbell family to ensure we have a fitting legacy to Matt focused on the development of resilient young people.

It is only a very short time since Matt‘s death and we need to respect that. While the total continues to rise, we are not in a position to finalise our plans but we are currently giving careful thought to the best way forward. We recently published a news story saying this. It is important for us to share an update saying that we are thinking carefully about how to use the money, rather than saying nothing. One of the ideas discussed to ensure we effectively communicate our plans is to have a dedicated page on our website, which will remember Matt and carry updates on what’s happening.

Some of our team were close to Matt. His death was clearly devastating for them and shocking for everyone at Brathay. I’ve been humbled by everyone’s resolution to ensure that we honoured our friend’s memory appropriately, and their huge efforts in coping brilliantly with the amazing response from the public. Colleagues attended the recent memorial service, and will continue our relationship with Matt’s family, who are great supporters of our work with children and young people.

10 top tips for responding to a crisis

  • Be prepared to put in the extra hours. It’s tough, but being part of the conversation at the times and in the places, where your supporters are, is essential.
  • It’s not about what you want to say – it’s about what your supporters/the public want to know. Try and look at the situation from their point of view.
  • Update regularly. Even if the situation is broadly un-changed.
  • Act even faster than you think at the outset! Any time you believe you’ve got will vanish.
  • Prioritise ruthlessly. Not just ‘today’ and ‘later’ but ‘right now’, ‘later this morning’, ‘before 3pm’ etc. If someone is missing deadlines, find a way to support the person who is struggling to keep up.
  • Relax the ‘whose job is it?’ rule. To get things done, use people’s skills if someone who would normally do something is already stretched.
  • Compare notes and meet regularly. Things change rapidly, and new, urgent, items come up fast.
  • Assemble a crisis team fast – even if you don’t need it, you can scale it down easily. Better to realise you’ve got too much resource than find you don’t have enough.
  • Remember to thank your team. They might look like they’re coping just fine, but situations like this are stressful for those involved. Reassure them they’re doing the right thing. It’s hard to know when you’re in the eye of the storm.
  • Make sure someone senior is part of the process. Even if they aren’t there all the time, having their support is invaluable to a team trying to cope with a stressful, and rapidly evolving, situation.

With huge thanks to Peter at Brathay for sharing his experience.

Further reading about crisis comms

Your top tips

Have you ever been in the middle of a crisis at your organisation? How did you identify it was a crisis rather than just a bad day? What worked or didn’t work? What top tips would you share? Please share in the comments.

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with digital comms, content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. Can I help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck or ideas injection?

Subscribe

Like this post? Why not add your email or WordPress username to the subscribe button on the right and get future posts delivered direct to you?!

 

 

Advertisements

Digital round-up – May

In the month that we were all swamped in GDPR emails and RNLI and Dog’s Trust were responding to endless negative comments following misreported press stories, there were lots of great reads. Pull up a comfy chair and catch up with some great charity content and digital reads you might have missed from May 2018.

View through a glass case of butterflies, we see a child with open mouth in amazement. At the Natural History Museum

Warning – you may need longer than a tea break to catch up. Pick and choose links to read, or open in new tabs for later. Or bookmark this post. Even better, subscribe and get future round-ups direct to your inbox. Enjoy!

Digital

Useful resources and reads if you are working on digital projects, thinking about future technologies or just getting on with your everyday digital tasks:

Screenshot from CAST's design principles showing the first 5.

Inspiration from other organisations getting stuck into digital:

New websites / rebanding:

Events:

screenshot of one of the slides from the charity comms seminar.

Content / comms channels

street painting of lots of faces

ICYMI – I updated my 2013 post about trustee / staff pages on charity websites with new best practice and examples. How does your site match up?

Fundraising

Graphic from UK Fundraising - charities have a problem with men

Working with people

Great content

Still from ARUK video showing a hand drawing a healthy brain on the left and one with Alzheimer's on the right.

Plus there was lots of nice content around for the Royal Wedding, such as this knitted couple from Age UK and this blue blood image from NHS Give Blood.

Age UK tweet showing a knitted Harry and Meghan.

This Royal Wedding Moment contains lots of fundraising related fun from large and small charities. Great examples of how to join in with a feel-good event.

Strawberry Social even did a comprehensive thread of an A-Z of Royal Wedding tat which should have got more likes than it did.

See also

Coloured print outs of T&Cs from social media sites. Instagram's is the longest.

Your recommendations

What did you read, watch or launch this month? Please add your links in the comments.

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with digital copywriting, content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

——

Did you miss April’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

—–

 

 

Digital round-up – April

Highlights from the charity digital web in April.

Includes a bumper crop of blog posts from CharityComms, Lightful and others, plus a charity rebrands, Marathon comms and some juicy hashtag content.

Close up of pots of rusty nails, green scissors and yellow string

Building digital success

**Don’t forget that if you have content on Storify, you have until 16 May to remove it before the site closes. There are lots of alternatives such as Wakelet. Which ones have you tried?**

Getting the measurements right

Infographic from ParkRun's tweet showing average finish times

Building excellent teams

Rebrands / new websites / building websites

Charity content

We all know about the big awareness days but what about the small obscure ones? Even International Carrot Day can be celebrated on a slow news day. Check out some great examples in this Twitter Moment.

There was some nice St George’s Day content around including this video from National Trust and Macmillan dusted off their #EdBallsDay tweet. Plus some great April Fool’s Day campaigns.

What does your social media strategy say about whether you should join in with an unexpected trending conversation or meme? What criteria does it have to satisfy or do you use instinct to make a decision? Some organisations I speak to just don’t join in, others will wait until their peers are joining in. Trending topics can give engagement a real boost. Remember how we all joined in with the 280 characters change on Twitter? This week some charities joined in with #MyHandleExplained. This example from WWF (“Wildlife not wrestling”) really stood out. This one from @MoreThanADodo was good too.

#MyHandleExplained tweet from WWF showing fighting polar bears

It can be hard to get humour right. This post by Jon Ware explores why and what we can do about it – Why the Absolute Unit was absolutely inspired digital comms.

London Marathon

Made to Move - wheelchair athlete whizzes past the Lucozade station on the Marathon

Full-on London Marathon fever lasts for about a week from the expo to when the aches and pain fade after the event. Use your content well to embrace this if you have runners or supporters involved.

Did you see the London Marathon cheer-off banter on Twitter and mascot banter between Breast Cancer Now, Macmillan Cancer, Breast Cancer Care, Teenage Cancer Trust, CLIC Sargent and others?

Jack Munroe used Twitter to connect fundraisers with supporters ahead of the big day.

Marathon day itself is a whirlwind on social media. On the Monday following the event, lots of charities shared stories about the impact all the fundraising would have as a way of thanking their runners for the pain and giving them a final push to pass on to sponsors. Many will be reliving the day through photographs and messages. Take a look at some examples in this Moment. Many charities also make Moments of their tweets from the day to curate and document it for prosperity and future use. These are also a great way to publicly celebrate (and thank) the effort of the runners and supporters. Take a look at examples from Scope and Macmillan.

UK Fundraising also shared a round-up of some of the highlights.

Brathay Trust did an excellent job with their crisis comms following the death of supporter Matt Campbell. As the news broke, they quickly released a statement. They added his story to their homepage, shared stories about their work on social to connect with their new audience and produced graphics to help promote #MilesForMatt. As the money came in, they released further statements at £100k and £300k sharing their reaction to the response and what the money means to them as a small charity.

As people are still running their 3.7 miles for Matt, the total is still going up. Currently it stands at a staggering £330k + GiftAid. For a small charity, who have never had so many tweets, they have done a brilliant job of connecting with the running community. Building long-term relationships with these supporters will be harder but many more people have now heard of Brathay and their work than before.

Brathay Trust - statement via Twitter reflecting on the week following Matt's death

NB It is worth having a look at the work Samaritans did following the death of Claire Squires’ in the London Marathon 2012 which raised over £1m. Here’s more about the Claire Squires Fund.

Other stuff

What else did you read or see this month? Do share in the comments.

How can I help you?

Why not get in touch if I can help you with digital copywriting, content planning, training or strategy? I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

——-

Did you miss March’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

——

 

 

 

 

 

What can we learn from recent user-generated viral content?

Diminishing trust in charities, institutions and experts is widely discussed at the moment. As comms professionals how can we tackle this? We still have important messages to get out there.

I have seen a few examples recently where individuals on Twitter have shared important messages which have gone viral. What is it about these messages which have worked where charity comms just haven’t connected?

Here are some examples of when a charity’s message goes viral without the charity being involved or when an individual shares a public information message which a charity has been working on, and reaches more people. And finally some suggestions of what we can learn from this.

Time to Change’s beer mats

On 23 April @CarSeatArmRest with 3100 followers tweeted an image he’d taken of Time to Change’s In Your Corner campaign beer mats with the words “These beer mats are SO needed. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 49, killing three times as many British men as women. It’s time to talk about men’s mental health!!”

To date, the tweet has had 209k likes, 77k RTs and 300 replies and it is still going strong. It doesn’t contain any hashtags or @mentions. The beer mat / coaster art work was launched six months ago.

Tweet showing images of Time to Change beer mats

I spoke to Time to Change’s Seb Baird who said. “We had a little bit of social buzz when the coasters were launched. They were placed in selected pubs at campaign launch in October 2017 but the people we’re trying to reach with this campaign don’t tend to talk about mental health on social media. The fact that they went viral now speaks to the relevance of the message and the difficulty in predicting how things spread on social. It also shows how people respond to physical materials differently to digital assets: I don’t think a tweet with the same message on a social graphic would have been as popular!”

“When this tweet took off we decided to take a hands-off approach, only retweeting the original post and replying to messages in the threads where they were relevant to the product and our organisation. We wanted the message to come first and our brand to come second.”

“That said, we had a 4x spike in our new Twitter followers that day, which is pretty great given we didn’t get an @ mention. We’ve had about 50 downloads of the coaster so far – they weren’t originally on our materials platform because they’re quite a niche product, so we had to upload sharpish and send the link in our Twitter replies.”

“By sod’s law, this happened on the one day of the year where the digital team were all out at a conference together. This meant that we picked it up quite late, and didn’t get to have a live look at how it went viral. In my view, it’s a testament to the strength of the messaging and the urgency of the topic, and it shows how important it is to have individuals taking your message and brand forward themselves; that authenticity is invaluable.”

The viral campaign was covered in The Independent (note autoplaying video on load) giving it a further push. You can download the coaster for yourself on the Time to Change website.

Other examples

Cancer charities have been trying to educate the public about sun damage and sun screen for years. On a sunny day last week, Jonathan Hume tweeted a thread about how sun cream works getting thousands of likes and RTs. People were replying with questions about different brands of cream and how to ensure sun safety.

Jonathan Hume's thread about sunscreen ratings

I don’t know whether any cancer charities spotted or got involved with this thread but compare it with CRUK’s similarly timed sun safety message which didn’t get much interaction or this one from Macmillan.

CRUK tweet about sun safety. 49 likes, 34 RTs

Did you watch Stephen Fry’s announcement that he has prostate cancer? This HuffPost article argues that well-intentioned public information doesn’t work – Stephen Fry’s message about prostate cancer spurred me on to get checked.

Earlier in the year, blind Twitter user Rob Long’s plea for people to use captions / alt text on images on Twitter got 178k likes, 145k RTs. Seemingly doing more to boost awareness about accessibility on Twitter singlehandedly than other of the organisations working in this area.

tweet from rob long asking twitter users to activate and use accessibility settings.

However it is worth noting that RNIB’s request for people to capitalise the first letters of words in hashtags to make them easier to read did well later in the year.

RNIB: Simple tweet reminding people to CapitaliseTheFirstLetter of words in hashtags to make them easier to read.

(NB this blog post about how to get alt text right is worth reading if you are new to image descriptions. It was widely shared at the start of the year following Rob Long’s tweet.)

Lessons

1. People respond better to advice or requests from peers than authority figures

We’re in an age of fake news, distrust of experts and too much noise. No wonder we turn to our peers for recommendations and information. What can you do about this?

Bring more voices into your comms, let people tell their own story (rather than you presenting their case study). Some methods include hosting and sharing user-generated content (see blog post from 2016 on Anthony Nolan’s Facebook content strategy and look at NHS Give Blood comms) and Twitter takeovers.

Listen to your community and those outside it. Do you read your organisation’s timeline or follow relevant keywords on your social channels? Use social media to be social rather than to broadcast. Join in with conversations but don’t dominate them.

Many charities also now reach out to influencers and find ways they can work together.

2. Simple content works best

What proportion of your content is information giving? Your evergreen content strategy probably involves big topics (“hey find out about symptoms!”) and a helpful link to your website. That can be daunting or disrupting to consume.

Think instead about micro information – what are your top tips or life hacks? What simple, practical tips or information do you have which might get uplift on a Friday afternoon? Think detail or niche but interesting and useful.

Think also about your tone of voice. Do you write in an approachable, clear, warm way? Are you writing as an friend or a parent or a teacher? Do your tweets include clutter? The messages which worked well above didn’t have hashtags or links to get in the way.

3. You don’t need to be involved in every conversation but you do need to make sure you can capitalise on the engagement

Time to Change decided not to get too involved in the beer mat conversations. They didn’t need to. The message was the important thing. But they did recognise that they needed to do more to make the artwork more widely available and quickly added them to their resource library. What do you need to do to make a message or resource fly even more?

Conclusions

I am not saying you should ditch your social strategy to use these approaches. You should do what is right for your brand, cause and audience. But it is worth reviewing your methods and impact and testing out how you can use social to really engage with people.

Any other examples?

Have you come across any other examples or have tips based on how you’ve tackled this problem? What do you think about these examples? Please do share in the comments.

See also:

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with digital copywriting, content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection. I have some time in May and June. Drop me a line.

Digital round-up – March

With more wintery weather heading our way, poke your head out from under the duvet for some of the highlights from March 2018. It has been a bumper month (snow, data abuse, more snow, lots of hashtags) so this round-up has lots of gems.

coloured bear heads poking out of a seaside game.

Campaigns

image from Dog's Trust Pawtrait campaign

Comms good practice

infographic of the 500 most popular passwords

Also, catch up with the slides from CharityComms’ content strategy conference and read Eleanor Dean’s blog with her key takeaways – Three thoughts on creating better digital content for your charity.

Social media

Digital evolution

Have you read the Charity Digital Skills Report? How you does your organisation compare? Do you have a digital strategy? Do your trustees ‘get’ digital?

screenshot from the digital skills report

I went to the DigitalAgenda Impact Awards and heard about lots of brilliant Tech for Good projects. Here’s a blog post from Ross McCulloch about some of the winners (4 examples of digital innovation) and a blog post about the Citizen’s Advice case management system which won an award. Is tech for good on your radar? Are you working on projects or know who is in your space?

Tech trends

Charity reads

And finally….

If you are looking for some cheering up, try these:

What else?

What were your good reads in March? Please do share.

If you want more, see also:

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with digital copywriting, content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. Can I help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection?

—–

Did you miss Jan/Feb’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

—–

 

 

 

Using digital to bring your impact to life

Sharing details of your impact shouldn’t just be hidden away in a report for funders or annual review. Use your digital comms to bring your impact to life.

Share and celebrate the difference you have made. Build trust and transparency. Showcase the achievements of your stakeholders, volunteers and staff. The sector and donors need a morale boost – do it with impact reporting. Here are some creative ways to do it.

Sign: how would you rate your ticket barrier experience today?' in a train station - 4 button choices

Why communicate impact?

As busy organisations doing important work, it is natural to always be looking forward to the next task, the next project, the next crisis. But taking time to review what worked well and the difference made is vital. And showing this impact is key to communicate what it is that you actually do. This builds and connects with supporters and partners. This builds trust.

Put simply impact is achievements plotted against your vision and goals. It can be an annual overview or done per project or activity.

Done well, impact is shown through more than just statistics, it brings out the experience and stories to bring it to life.

Digital impact reporting can be low-cost and allows you to be more creative. There are lots of different methods you can use. This post looks at some of them

Impact reports

Many organisations produce an impact report. It might be called an annual review or an annual report. It may be printed and handed out to important people. It may be sitting in boxes in the corner of your office right now! Maybe it has been turned into a PDF and uploaded to your website.

Do you know how many people read it? What impact does the impact report have? Is it driving donations? Is it changing the minds of decision-makers? How much time (and stress) does it take to gather all the data and stories of your year and craft it into one document?

Given all the work involved, the document should be working really hard for you. I have seen lots of ‘Our impact’ pages which are just lists of links to old reports.

List of links on a page: impactReport17 / impactReport16 / ImpactReport15 etc

No-one wants to click on these links unless they have to!

Instead bring your impact report to life. If you don’t have the space or time to do more, at a bare minimum the page linking to your report should be engaging. What are the highlights from the report? What were the key achievements? Do you have a strong image? The page needs to whet people’s appetites or if you have more than one report, help them find the information they are looking for without having to mine for it.

For example, look at the highlights from London Community Foundation’s projects and St Mary’s Secret Garden’s page about impact.

Online impact reports

Many organisations are investing in online impact reports. For example see the Children’s Society Impact Report 15-16 which includes statistics, maps, stories and videos and Crisis’ Impact Report 16-17.

Teenage Cancer Trusts’ report is a year in the life of the organisation. The web page version picks out some of the key information from the report (I like the ‘what we said we’d do’ and ‘what we did’ lists) and links to a download of the print version and a page-turning view via ISSUU.

Cover of the Teenage Cancer Trust report - 365 days in the life of the organisation

These are clearly expensive bits of content but they give value for these organisations. If done right, snazzy reports work harder to encourage people to interact with this information, especially if they are well promoted and linked to (more on this later). They should of course also meet accessibility guidelines so everyone can access them. Interactive pages with pop-up text or video can be especially problematic for people using screen readers or viewing on mobile.

But here is an insight into the future. On Street League’s annual report page there is a note which says “Is our annual report already out of date? See how we are doing now” linking to a live interactive dashboard of their data. They say “We are committed to transparency and have developed this online tool so you can see exactly how we’re doing throughout the year. You can see exactly how many young people we have been able to support, as well as those we haven’t been able to help and why that is.” Very impressive!

Screenshot of live data - pie charts and maps

Different types of reports

Reports don’t have to follow a standard format. What is your audience interested in? How can you present your information in a way which is engaging or surprising or tells a story in a different way?

The British Heart Foundation produce timelines of research done on particular heart conditions.

Haven House Children’s Hospice produce an emoji year in review to accompany their standard annual report.

Haven House Children's Hospice emoji review which uses graphics to illustrate their impact stats

Using the content from your report

Don’t let your report just sit on the shelf. Help drive traffic to it. Use the source material on an ongoing basis.

Why not schedule snippets from the report, such as a story or statistic. Link to the report or to some other content for more information. Use a photo or graphic or video to make it eye catching. Write blog posts. Share content at weekends and in the evening. Use the report to generate conversation.

For example, Teenage Cancer Trust shared a gif of some headline stats and link to their annual review.

Bowel Cancer UK shared an infographic via Twitter for #ThursdayThoughts.

infographic from Bowel Cancer UK

Reach Volunteering have taken the stats from their report and used Flourish to make them more interactive.

Creative ways to communicate impact

Take your impact reporting to the next level by gathering and sharing data and stories throughout the year in a creative way.

Maps / infographics / emojis / images

Share your impact in an eye-catching way with bold graphics. Graphics can illustrate data or a story. For example look at this journey of a young person from Outward Bound Trust’s Social Impact Report illustrating the impact of their work.

Maps are a good way to show volume or spread of your work. This example from BBC Children in Need uses a yellow map of the country with Pudsey-shaped pins to show projects they have supported.

Children in Need map using Pudsey shaped pins on a map of the UK showing the location of projects

This interactive map from Care International UK shows their work across the world.

How are you showing your impact to the people who visit your office or centre? This poster on the wall of Dogs Trust Canterbury shows visitors how many dogs have been rehomed this year. It works well on social media too.

Poster showing pawprints counting up the number of dogs rehomed by Dogs Trust Canterbury in 2018

For more on this see > how to illustrate data and stats on social media

Curation and takeovers

Let your team share insights from their work to bring their impact to life. Some stories of the behind the scenes activities can help people realise the impact of what you do.

Twitter / Instagram takeovers are well used by organisations. This is when a trusted person is given the keys to the ‘corporate’ account for a day or longer and invited to share their story. Lankelly Chase do this every Friday allowing frontline staff to show us what their day involves. They preserve them as Twitter Moments and on Storify (NB still due to be shut down on 16 May 2018) so they can be re-shared or used in different ways.

Screenshot of storify's of the people who have done friday takeovers for Lankelly Chase

Takeovers also work well for a particular event or message. For example, look at this Moment from Marie Curie made up of tweets following a nurse doing a night shift over the night when the clocks go back. They used this to remind supporters about the work done by nurses.

For more on takeovers see > how to share lived experiences using #rocur or Twitter takeovers

Storytelling

Case studies are often included in funding application forms alongside impact stats to bring an issue or intervention to life. This can be done digitally too

For example, see Yavonne’s story from the The Parent House. The page includes a beautiful photograph and a quote from Yvonne followed by a case study about her (rather than in her own words).

Contrast this with the no frills story following the donation of a tin of tomatoes to Cardiff Foodbank showing behind the scenes and putting a single donation in the context of all the others.

Still from Foodbank video

Or a handwritten note shared with Colchester Foodbank which shares some of the personal impact of the service to one person.

Handwritten note of thanks to Colchester Foodbank

These stories are authentic and engaging.

Video

Add a little magic. Videos don’t have to be expensive or worthy to tell your story. Show the types of things you fund or teach or love, to illustrate your work. For example, I love this video from Children in Need about the funding they give to science education projects.

Video can be used to show the impact you make on one person. This story from Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity shares the story of Emily’s mum and the support she received from the charity.

Video can also allow beneficiaries to speak directly, saying what impact the charity has had. For example, look at this video from educational charity Hackney Pirates.

Find a hook

Finally, think about the hooks you can use to share your impact. This could be #GivingTuesday, a topical hashtag, awareness day or anniversary / event.

4 examples of how charities show their impact on social using hashtags

Top tips

Spring clean your impact content today:

  • Is your ‘Our impact’ page or equivalent easy to find in your website’s navigation? Is it integrated within your website with links from fundraising pages? Is it better than just a list of links?
  • Are your PDF links labelled well? This is really important for accessibility, people using mobiles and everyone! Do it like this – Impact report 2016-17 (PDF) including (PDF) in the link text. NB make sure your PDFs are tagged for accessibility too. Otherwise a PDF is basically a photo of text and impossible for someone to read with a screen reader.
  • Do you really need 10 years worth of reports on your website? Look at the Analytics to see if anyone is actually opening them.
  • When was the last time you talked about impact on social? How did this perform? How could you do it better?
  • Is the process for collecting impact data efficient? Take a look at Impact Management Programme for some useful resources.
  • Experiment with free tools to help you produce eye-catching graphics. Try Canva, ISSUU, biteable or Flourish.

Remember: Impact is for life – not just for a report.

Digital brings an opportunity to be creative and bring your organisation’s impact to life. Use your reporting to connect with supporters, funders and the community.

Seen any great examples?

Have you seen or worked on innovative impact reporting? Or does your organisation approach impact in a different way? Or is reporting just not important? I’d love to hear from you. Please share in the comments.

There are lots more examples and tips from this Charity Comms seminar in September 2017.

[A shorter version of this post was shared via the Just Giving blog – 5 creative ways to bring your charity’s impact to life]

Can I help?

Get in touch if I can help you with digital copywriting, content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. Can I help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection?

This post was based on a workshop session I delivered at Superhighways Impact Aloud conference in November 2017.

Great #IWD2018 content

More than ever today, my timeline is wonderfully filled with messages celebrating brilliant women and highlighting women’s projects and causes.  It is International Women’s Day (#IWD2018) so here’s my pick of the top content around.

Fundraising for women’s charities

Bloody Good Period encouraged us to give a sister a leg-up by donating to their Amazon wishlist.

Still from animation - have a bloody good IWD

Richard Herring did his annual ‘Why isn’t there an International Men’s Day?’ response marathon to raise money for Refuge. At one stage during the day, new donations were being every added every ten seconds. The £50k target was hit around lunchtime, and £100,000 by the early evening. The final total is now almost £150k + Gift Aid!

Tweets between Refuge and Richard Herring announcing fundraising totals

There were lots of fundraising activities on the day. This reproduction of this suffragette poster from 1906 is being sold to support the campaign for a statue of Mary Woolstonecraft.

The Huffington Post ran an article about donating to women’s charities.

Celebrating brilliant women

There are thousands of tweets giving shout-outs to fabulous women. Imandeep Kaur’s thread, showcasing women in her life stood out. Using one tweet per person and a stonking photograph, she explains what the woman has achieved and why they are amazing.

One of the tweets from Imandeep Kaur's thread.

Lots of charities celebrated their women founders and / or the stories of prominent women. For example, see Sue Ryder, The Woodland Trust, Leonard Cheshire, RSPCA, Maggie’s Centres, Battersea Dogs and Cats and British Red Cross.

And there were a number of posts introducing some of the women I admire working in the sector today. See CharityJob’s Sheroes, Kirsty Marrins’ post from last year and Lightful’s 6 phenomenal women leading the way.

Fighting for equality

City, University of London asked why there aren’t more expert women featured on the news with this nifty animation they shared on Twitter sharing research from Professor Lis Howell.

Still from IWD video from City, showing cartoon-drawn images of famous women

The NY Times admitted that its obituaries have been dominated by white men. They have responded with a series called Overlooked.

UNICEF produced this simple animation calling on a world where every woman and girl feels safe.

It’s worth watching the #FreedomForGirls video produced by Global Goals if you haven’t seen it already.

Still from Freedom for girls video - text on wall says 71% of human trafficing victims are female

This interactive timeline of women’s rights and gender equality over the past 100 years from Southbank Centre has been released as part of their WOW festival.

Women’s projects

Great coverage for this Women in Sheds Age UK project in Loughborough.

Still from ITV video of Women in Sheds project

Some charities you wouldn’t particularly expect to have an story for IWD, used the opportunity to share stories about their work. For example Dog’s Trust shared information about their Freedom Project.

Tweet from Dog's Trust thanking foster carers who look after dog's of women fleeing domestic violence

And Crisis shared research about the impact of homelessness on women in a short video.

Inspiring messages

‘Be a role model for the sort of woman you want your children to be’. Wise words in this video from Age UK showing a discussion between Shirley Meredeen and Lynne Ruth Miller.

Still from age uk - 'what I would say to any woman, if you have children, be a role model'

Grow old disgracefully – I love this from the Campaign to End Loneliness.

Campaign to End Loneliness tweet showing 'when I am old woman, I shall wear purple' quote

What did you spot?

This was just a small fraction of all the tweets, videos, campaigns shared for IWD18. What did you see or produce which particularly stood out? Do share your highlights in the comments.

See also:

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with digital copywriting, content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. Can I help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection?