Anthony Nolan’s Facebook content strategy

A content strategy can be used to look at the overall publishing messages and processes for an organisation. Or it can be focussed to one particular channel or element of delivery. In this post we look at the brilliant Anthony Nolan’s Facebook content strategy and see how they went from mainly ‘housekeeping’ type posts / sharing news stories, to using first-person, authentic storytelling with dramatic results.

L-R Before and after the content strategy

About Anthony Nolan

Anthony Nolan is a national charity who match people “willing to donate their blood stem cells or bone marrow to people with blood cancer and blood disorders who desperately need lifesaving transplants”.

The small digital team had built up a healthy following on their social media channels. Inspired by the NHS Blood Donation’s approach to storytelling and some successful trials, they wanted to refocus their Facebook comms.

August 2015

  • 45 Facebook posts to 50,000 followers.
  • 30 posts were niche or transactional ie ones requested internally to promote an event or news item or fundraising activity.
  • 15 posts were story-led about stem cell donation, transplants or blood cancer. These performed better.
  • Average of 279 engagements per post.

The team recognised how powerful stories could be but there was no overall direction or resources to find stories. They also identified that there was internal pressure to promote department-specific needs.

The change

The team had been watching how NHS Blood Donation used Facebook to celebrate and inspire donors.

In January their own patient appeal (#Match4Lara) flourished on social media leading to copycat appeals from other families. Previous campaigns had been press-media focussed. Their approach needed to change to be able to respond to and support donor searches using social media.

A myth busing campaign (#DonatingIsntScary) in October 2015 used first-hand donation stories on social media. This worked well and encouraged the team to trial new processes to encourage donors to share, which they did.

This helped to prove that storytelling should be the main focus on Facebook. The team analysed their stories and did lots of thinking about the roles and goals of stories. This included looking at Joseph Campbell’s The Hero and Age UK’s use of positive storytelling.

The strategy

They developed their own profile for stories which would support the goals of the organisation.

Anthony Nolan strategy

This documented four types of story (pillars) and their purposes:

  1. The hunt (urgent) – (someone needs to find a donor). The story raises awareness and educates a cold audience about matching. This is a real, human story that inspires people to help.
  2. The hero (informative) – (someone amazing is donating their stem cells). The story demonstrates how donation works and reassures potential donors about the process. It creates positivity and shows donors are heroes.
  3. The happy ending (celebratory) – (a donor and recipient meet or exchange letters or a recipient or family member reflects on their life since the transplant). The story underlines the positive impact a transplant can have and demonstrates the amazing relationship that can develop between a recipient and donor.
  4. The heartbeat (informative) – (stories about AN’s heritage or about new research breakthrough).

To support the guide, they developed three basic content principles to put the strategy into action:

  • the four pillars should form the foundation of daily Facebook content
  • stories should be varied
  • pillars should be the majority in comparison with niche posts, at least 1:1.

Stories are repurposed or re-shared from posts shared by the community.

They launched the strategy with a series of internal comms including:

  • lunchtime workshop explaining about Facebook’s algorithms, showing that it was everyone’s responsibility to come up with engaging content
  • working with colleagues to create posts which combined niche calls to action with storytelling. These were used to inspire and encourage other colleagues when these did well.
  • communication and compromise. They spent time working with colleagues to think about which channels could be used as an alternative when their posts wouldn’t work on Facebook.


  • In the second week of September 2016 there were 5 posts, each used one of the pillars (all four were covered).
  • Each post got more than 3000 engagements.
  • The posts reached over 1 million people organically.
  • There were 16.2k engagements. The team were excited to benchmark this against NHS Blood Donation who got 16.3k in the same week.
  • The average number of engagements in August was 1267. This was a 450% increase on August 2015.

Why it works

AN post showing a donor

Take a look at Anthony Nolan’s Facebook. It is brilliant because it is all about people rather than ‘the charity’. The organisation is the facilitator, unifying the message but it is the people who are doing inspiring things or the ones needing help from others.

The pictures are not stock images, but of people doing something, a picture capturing a moment.

The stories are from the people rather than about them.

And AN do a great job of responding to questions and explaining things. They are part of the community, not owners of it. The five people working on social media are seen to provide customer service (there are also three in the digital team).

The stories are written in an immediately engaging way. Just look at the first lines of a few posts:

  • “I told her she wasn’t going to hospital and she asked why. So I had to tell her she didn’t have a hero any more.”
  • Robert Duff really is an extraordinary human being.
  • This is just heartbreaking
  • “The day I got the email was very exciting. A few blood tests to confirm and the ball started rolling!”

Posts are concise but engaging. They are written in a warm, urgent, persuasive way. People want to comment / like / share. Anthony Nolan have inspired their community to be one which doesn’t simply passively read but are connected and active.

These stories do everything to link people who are going through similar experiences. They help people who are going through horrible times to feel that they are not alone. They also inspire people to become donor heroes. The community thanks donors and the donors feel loved. Which makes more people want to donate.

By being brave and strategically refocussing their Facebook content they have created a community which is supportive and content generating. Their work on Facebook is helping to deliver the goals of the organisation.

Is this replicable?

It can be a brave thing to make a significant change like this. Clearly for Anthony Nolan, the instinctive change to focus on storytelling has proved to be one which has significantly increased engagement and awareness.

I don’t think this approach would work for everyone. It works for Anthony Nolan because they were able to distill their key messages down to four types of stories. It also works because their audience of donors and patients (plus their family, friends and supporters) wants to share and read and react to these stories because they reflect their own experiences. As as story the search for a match works, as there is an urgency and potentially a solution which anyone could contribute to. Finally the community is lively and active and AN have nurtured it with their own engagement by thanking, sharing and recognising contributions.

Most organisations don’t have the capacity to find stories to share in this way. And there will be many causes where there are sensitivities which mean that stories have to be anonymised or people don’t want to or can’t tell their own stories via Facebook. Setting a target for user-generated stories for these causes or for organisations without a super-engaged community is unrealistic.

Saying that, many organisations just use Facebook for housekeeping / noticeboard comms (eg fundraising / news / #mondaymotivation etc). It is hard to reach people when posts don’t get the organic traffic generated by the likes / shares / comments etc. So in order to use Facebook to its potential, posts should always be engaging. Stories are one way to do this. Many charities could do with a think about how to use the channel to be inspiring and supportive, seeing it as a service rather than broadcast.

Content strategy

Is your organisation ready to make a drastic change to the way it writes, produces or shares content? Does one of your channels need a re-think?

Doing content strategy work is an opportunity to ask questions about whether your approach does need a refresh. Messages get stale, audience needs evolve and the popularity and usefulness of channels ebbs and flows. Charity comms also go through trends. Storytelling and video are big now, but live streaming or Virtual Reality might become the next big thing.

Any process looking at content strategy (whether org-wide or channel specific) would start by looking at the organisational strategy and analysing how content should support this – messages first with channels and delivery methods after. Ideas for change would be tested by looking at the processes, impact and audience for the content.

To get the most out of your content, it is a process worth doing.

Your experience

Have you made a similar change? Have you done a large or small-scale content strategy? What impact did it have?

What do you think of Anthony Nolan’s use of Facebook? Why does it work? What can you learn from it?

Please do share in the comments.

Credits and links

With big thanks to Jon Ware who shared Anthony Nolan’s journey with me.

I will be presenting this case study as part of my workshop on Content Strategy at the Charity Writing Communications conference on 25 October 2016.

Read more about Content Strategy and various posts about storytelling.

Oh and find out about the 8 ways you could save a life.

#firstfiver – a democratic viral fundraiser

Selection of #firstfiver images from twitter

I have been watching the spread of the #firstfiver campaign since it started just under two weeks ago. It has been great to see how many organisations have joined in with this very simple idea.

Unlike other viral fundraisers (such as #nomakeupselfie which I have blogged about before) this was not connected to a particular cause. It also didn’t feature a complicated or strenuous ask (such as the Ice Bucket Challenge or the current #22PushUpChallenge).

Instead it was simple and easy to ask. And simple and easy for supporters to join in with.


If you haven’t come across it yet, look at my storify showing the spread of the campaign and how different charities have responded.

It includes examples from small charities such as Trinity Hosice, Harrogate Easier Living Project (HELP), The UK Sepsis Trust, Freedom from Torture and Make Lunch. And large ones including War Child UK, the Children’s Society and Sue Ryder.

Images, videos, thank yous and shopping lists showing the difference a £5 donation could make, all help to make a request stand out.

#firstfiver Storify – showing tips and examples

Get involved

If your organisation hasn’t joined in yet, it is not too late. The hashtag is still going strong and many people still haven’t had a new £5 note yet.

Share your views

Have you seen any good examples that I have missed? Any particularly humourous or creative or persuasive posts?

Has your organisation had (m)any donations? How easy was it for your organisation to join in with this campaign?

Have you made a donation yourself?

Please do comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Empathy and the power of stories

We laughed, we cried, we empathised. Yesterday’s Being the Story event, curated and organised by Jude Habib of SoundDelivery was a showcase for stories.

Four images from the Being The Story event

It wasn’t a traditional charity conference. There was no mention of digital comms channels, no talk of impact measurement. We shimmyed our pom poms, we boxed, we walked in other people’s shoes and sang. But most of all we heard people’s stories, told first hand. It was moving and powerful and upsetting and inspiring. It was all about the experience.

The stories

Each speaker shared their story in their own way. The common thread was how the speakers had used their own experiences to do something amazing. I can’t even start to represent the power of the stories which were shared. So here is a very brief summary, with links to more information on the BeingTheStory website. We heard from:

  • Pastor and community campaigner Lorraine Jones whose son Dwayne Simpson was fatally stabbed in Brixton in 2014 and set up Dwaynamics to help young people develop life skills through boxing and fitness
  • Sam Smith whose own troubled start in life inspired him to support young people
  • Jodie Clark whose own experience of disability discrimination by employers led her to become an advocate
  • Solicitor Sue James who tells the stories of the people she represents in Hammersmith and Fulham Law Centre
  • Mandy Thomas‘ who told the harrowing story of domestic violence
  • The Empathy Museum’s project of ‘A Mile in My Shoes’ which was recently used at the NHS Conference to help health professions understand the experience of patients
  • Brititte Aphrodite who shared sections from her punk poetry show about her depression
  • Naveed and Samiya Parvez who created Andiamo to fit and 3D print orthotics after their experience with their son – “we realised that we’d always had healthcare done to us, not with us”
  • Emma Lawton who shared how her diagnosis of Parkinson’s at 29 changed her life in a positive way
  • Hassan Akkad who shared his 87 day journey to the UK from Syria
  • Photographer Giles Duley who shares the stories of the people he photographs via his humanitarian projects
  • The Micro Rainbow International Interfaith Choir.

How stories are told

The stories they told were amazing. But more than that, it was how they were told. Hearing directly from someone in the same room, is very powerful.

In some cases the delivery was a performance. Watching Emma Lawton peg visual representations of the things that had happened to her, then cut the piece of string held by her parents was one of the most moving things I have seen. It brought the house down.

First-hand storytelling

First-hand stories are powerful. You might think you are doing this already through your case studies. But it is not the same.

This is about creating a platform and a culture where people want to share their stories for you. They are the ambassadors for your cause, not your charity. They help people to understand and empathise about the condition / experience which helps to inspire someone to help do something about it (through donating / volunteering etc).

How to harness this is crucial. The strongest channel must be the in-person delivery. The top of the comms pyramid is the opportunity to be listened to for 20 minutes with no distractions. How could you not be affected?

There are other examples which come close. The audio / shoe experience from the Empathy Museum connects sound with something physical. The WeAreHere installation in June bought the stories of WW1 soldiers to life.  There must also be examples of individual storytelling using Virtual Reality. These are all about intimacy and experience. By sharing an experience we can feel empathy.

Can this be done in other ways? Watching a video of that person is good but not the same as in-person delivery. You have to be so engaging that the hovering swipping finger stays still until the end. Can you distill someone’s story into 140 characters, a written case study or blog post? It is of course possible but is it enough? Maybe it depends on the complexity of the story?

Text with quote from the event ""One of my clients could only afford 1 light bulb & had to move it from room to room.""

There are some organisations doing this. For example SeeMeScotland’s recent #myunfilteredlife campaign where people have been sharing images on instagram with many saying ‘I don’t usually join in with social media shared like this’. An intimate picture and powerful words, directly from the person helps us to share the experience.

SeeMe Scotland

Start with empathy

There are organisations who have expert ambassadors who publicly talk, for example CoppaFeel’s founder Kris Hallenga who was the highlight of one Media Trust conference and the Expert Citizens programme. Emma Lawton is herself an ambassador for Parkinson’s UK. And many organisations have beneficiaries who speak to the media.

SoundDelivery’s mission has been to help organisations collect and use the stories of the people they work with. They understand the power of putting on a pair of headphones, listening to someone speak and sharing someone’s world.

The question for us all as charity comms people is how to find and share the authentic voices. Whether you take inspiration from Emma Lawton’s performance or ideas from the Empathy Museum, now is the time to be creative. Now is the time to find ways to put empathy rather than sympathy at the heart of your comms.

More from #BeingTheStory

Do look at the BeingTheStory storify to get a sense of the day (as well as the hashtag from the event). Lots of people have also written blogs, sharing their thoughts:

Spotted any first-hand stories? Do share them in the comments. This week I read this story in the Metro Online for World Alzheimer’s Day – My nan’s dementia and me.

(Images with thanks to @magnetogaby @katiecubbage and @sushi_juggapah. )

Images on social media

Images are crucial to social media. This post looks at how charities can use images to grab attention or tell their stories. It uses lots of examples from Twitter but many of the rules also apply to Facebook

Just two years ago, images were a nice-to-have. Now they are a must-have to grab attention. This screenshot from my Twitter feed shows the difference. In 2014 in a random sample, just one tweet out of nine has an image. In 2016, four out of five, does.

Twitter in 2014 = one tweet with an image out of 8. Twitter 2016 = 5 tweets, 4 with images

Personally I used to scroll through tweets sifting by account. Now I primarily sift by images. Images have to be eye-catching and engaging to make me stop and read. But, what makes a good image?

Images which tell a story

L-R Maurice at St Paul's, Toilet Twinning donations jar, Rio's life-saving heart transplant

Images can tell a story themselves or can be a gateway into a story – a hook to get the reader’s interest. For example, the image of 101-year old volunteer Maurice at St Paul’s Cathedral makes you want to read his story. The image from Toilet Twinning of a jar of coins is intreging, it makes you ask questions about how much they are trying to raise and how. This BHF image of Rio following his life-saving heart transplant shows him in hospital surrounded by medical equipment and with a breathing tube. Each is a powerful image, hooking us in to want to read more.

Images which are cute / beautiful

L-R Blue Cross ginea pigs, National Trust property with 2100 likes on FB, Royal Academy #imageoftheday

Images are like a reward, they can brighten someone’s day. Social media is made to share cute or beautiful images.

Unsurprisingly, animal charities such as Blue Cross, share lots of cute images. These are rewards for people who love guinea pigs / cats / hedgehogs etc. The images are useful to illustrate messages about rehoming and general education about animals. Images are also crucial to support social media fundraising. See this tweet from the Barn Owl Trust – awww.

Many museums and galleries share items from their collections via social media. For example, the East London Group and the Royal Academy connect with their followers with an #imageoftheday often connecting this with something that is topical. Heritage organisations are great at using images of their properties. The National Trust share their amazing collection of photos brilliantly on Facebook and get a high level of interaction.

You don’t have to be the National Trust to share beautiful pictures. Do you have a garden or view to share (see tweets from Canal and River Trust or Lewis-Manning Hospice)? Are you having a cake sale (see Maternal Worldwide’s Muffins for Midwives campaign)? Think about what is cute or beautiful in your organisation.

Images which are fun

Fun images are harder to get right as humour is very subjective and hard to translate through technology. You can be creative, playful, topical and fun but only if it is relevant and appropriate for your brand and audience. Take a look at Give Blood’s recent use of emojis or YoungScot’s use of animated gifs.

L-R Bill Bailey with an owl on his head, St John's tips for Jon Snow, Dave the Worm enjoying his breakfast

Images can be fun because the people in them are having fun (think fundraising or volunteering activities) or include notoriously fun people (see this tweet of Bill Bailey with an owl on his head from the Barn Owl Trust).

Images can also be fun because they join in with something lots of people are talking about. Memes, TV shows, the weather, news stories can all be used to join in with existing fun. See St John Ambulance’s first aid tips for Game of Thrones characters.

Organisations sometimes create an alter-ego for their brand which can do the fun stuff. Examples of this are RSPB’s Vote for Bob and Dave The Worm from Parkinson’s UK.

Images which are shocking

Images can be shocking because they show things we wouldn’t usually see (such as Dr Kate Granger’s moving deathbed tweets).  Or because they show a truly shocking situation (think of the images of the young Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach in September 2015). Images which are shocking may provoke feelings of disgust, anger or sadness. However, reactions may vary; it can be difficult to predict where an image goes too far (think of the backlash against Barnado’s adverts in 2000).

Whether you use shocking images depends on your cause and what you are trying to achieve. Remember that you have a duty of care. Images don’t need to be graphic to have impact.

Think about your audience and what they will tolerate. Think about what you are trying to achieve, what action you are trying to prompt. Think about balance. If your subject matter is only ever shocking, how can you illustrate it in a sensitive but impactful way which brings people in to find out more?

L-R Oxfam, Greenpeace, Brain Injury Hub

  • Sometimes text can add impact to an image. This example from Oxfam International shows a beautiful image of a Burundian mother and child with the words ‘A refugee is a person who doesn’t have any options’.
  • This Greenpeace campaign about the recycle-ability of disposable coffee cups uses images of Caffe Nero, Costa and Starbucks cups with a shocking fact (7 million coffee cups are used per day in the UK. 1% are recycled).
  • An image can be shocking without being obviously sad. This example from The Brain Injury Hub shows toddler Harmonie-Rose who had meningitis playing with her dolls.
  • This image shared by Aspire is a still from a Channel 4 news item. It shows a man cutting food with a sharp knife using his prosthetic hand.

Images which give information

Effective images can also be ones which give infomation or are just interesting. This could be a photo of something which helps someone to understand a situation or topic (such as this tweet from Thames21 showing microbeads), or an image which illustrates data (see using graphics to illustrate data on social media for lots of examples) or illustrates text (such as Mind’s series of quotes).

L-R Thames 21 fingertip showing microbeads, Mind quote (I have many separate distinct and unique 'parts' of my personality), GoodGym runners

Information pictures also play an important role in inspiring people to get involved. Images of people doing fundraising or volunteering can inspire other people to do the same (‘there’s a picture of people running, they look like me and like they are having a good time, I could do it too’). This example from GoodGym is great as it shows runners in bright T-shirts running along a street, smiling!

Your image strategy

An image strategy may be an over-inflated term but it is important to spend some time thinking about and documenting how you will use images.

  • Do your images fit into the categories above? They can of course just be window-dressing, there to look pretty or eye-catching (see this tweet from MindApples).
  • Do you have something in your housestyle or brand guidelines about the types of images you use? What about your social media or content strategy?
  • Do you have a different style for social media or do you use the same image for the same story across all your channels?
  • Do you use an image for every tweet or post or just when you have something appropriate ready to use? What is your policy?

What thinking or analysis have you done about images? It is worth testing out what style actually works for you and on what channels. What works on Facebook might not necessarily work on Twitter. And what works on these ‘news’ channels might be different than what works on other types of social channels such as Instagram. Don’t assume that your audience are the same.

Spend some time testing out different techniques and using the analytics within Twitter and Facebook to find out the impact / level of interaction.

The rules

Images are very subjective. What appeals to one person, might not work for another. Whether you are taking the picture yourself or are choosing from your image library, there are some basic rules which apply.

  • Don’t use pictures which are unclear or blurry or dark – on social media you have seconds to get your message across or to attract attention. Images need to be instantly appealing with strong contrasting colours (like this RNIB tweet of a bright green broccoli in a red colander). If you only have poor quality images, why not make them into a collage to make them more interesting. This this collage from Muffins for Midwives which tells more of a story than a single image.
  • Don’t use images which are cluttered or hard to understand – photograph your subjects on a plain background if possible. Your tweets and posts will be looked at on all kinds of devices and may appear very small. Sometimes this rule can be broken if the background tells a story. For example, the BHF image of Rio above or this image from the Trussell Trust of a big group of children in a warehouse.
  • Avoid pictures which are too complicated or badly cropped – these can lose meaning. Strangely cropped images may attract attention but might just be too wacky (see MyCommunity’s spade image).
  • Don’t be boring – do you really have to use that giant donation cheque image?! (Just do a search for ‘charity cheques’ to see how universally boring these are.) Of course it can be politic to take a cheque photo but does it really work on social media? There are lots of ways of showing a fundraising total without having to show the dreaded cheque / handshake (see this press release about JD Wetherspoon’s CLIC Sargent fundraising which shows the total in giant golden balloons or this big thank you from SeeAbility).

Google search for 'charity cheques'

Remember also, that not everyone following your social media channels will be able to see your images. Twitter and Facebook do now have some accessibility features, although on Twitter it is applied manually and only via apps. Unless you use alt text, avoid using an image on its own. Instead include meaningful text about what the image is showing and ideally a link for more information (the Mind tweet above is a good example of this).


  • Do you know what is right for your cause / brand / audience / channel?
  • What is your image policy and style?
  • Do your images follow the rules of good pictures?
  • Do you use images which tell a story?
  • Are your images cute / beautiful?
  • Are your images fun – do you use humour or respond to topical stories or memes?
  • Do you use images which are shocking?
  • Do your images give information?
  • Are they just window-dressing?
  • Are you using images accessibly?

Bottom-line is, don’t be boring!

Experiment, be creative and involve the team to take new images. Use analytics to check what is working. Find your image style.

Further reading

See also, my previous posts on using graphics to illustrate data on social media and how to illustrate difficult causes and subjects. Also, my chapter on images in the Charity Social Media Toolkit on the SkillsPlatform.

Do you agree?

When have you broken the rules and it has worked? Do you have a style guide for images? How do you manage your images and how they are used? What images have you seen or used recently?

Please do share your experience and examples by adding a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Social media tips for small charities

Artificial brightly-coloured birds in a cage

Many small charities struggle with social media. They just don’t have the time or people to devote to it. Yet social media is increasingly where people get their news, their community, their information and their fun. If your organisation does not have a presence, you are not on people’s radar. Recent research from TSB showed that only 1 in ten people can name a local charity.

Here are my top tips for small charities new to social media or wanting to up their game beyond basic broadcasting.

1. Use social media to tell your stories

What makes your organisation special? Why do you do what you do? What difference do you make? Telling stories about the work you do is a powerful way to get your message heard. Well-produced stories can help to explain why your cause is important, show how the work you do makes a difference, explain about difficult topics, change attitudes and give a voice to those you help – from their perspective.

Read more about storytelling and don’t miss the charity sector’s own TED-style BeingTheStory event in September.

2. Be creative

Images, text and video can all be used to tell your story. This doesn’t have to cost anything other than your time. Use your smart phone to take pictures or video around your organisation. Have fun and be creative.If your garden is looking splendid, you are running an event or just want to say thank you to a supporter, take a picture.

Images can also be used as a reward to help build relationships. Look at how East London Group welcomes new followers with an image or Epilepsy Society’s Good Luck messages on Instagram.

Look at what other people are doing and think about what is appropriate for your organisation and brand. Think about the tone of voice you use across your social media channels and what type of content you share. Social media allows you to be more informal, personal and to show your personality. So you can talk about things outside your area such as the weather or seasonal events (think of it as social media small-talk) if this works for you.

See also Creative ways to illustrate data and stats on social media and simple graphics can bring your data to life featuring some work I did with MakeLunch.

3. Join the conversation

If your work is around big themes (such as poverty, homelessness, refugees or cancer) watch out for relevant TV programmes, soap storylines or news stories. Many local areas have regular Twitter sessions where people talk about local issues for an hour (such as #BedsHour and #HarrogateHour – see #HashtagHour for a list). Join in with the hashtags being used, to share your message. This can be an opportunity to reach new audiences and build new relationships. Listen to what people are saying and show what you are doing. These opportunities can be a big chance for small charities to get their voices heard and to connect with others.

For example: look at this Storify of tweets sent during a BBC1 documentary on homelessness.

4. Don’t try to do too much

With limited resources the pressure of using social media can feel overwhelming. Think about which channels your audience uses and prioritise these (see Sprout Social’s How to find the best social media channels for your business).  Use free tools such as Hootsuite to schedule and manage posts and interaction. Nurture your ambassadors, your staff, volunteers, beneficiaries and supporters who are influential on social media, and help them to speak for you.

See also: How can charities manage social media 24/7?

5. Give people ways to get involved

Include clear calls to action in your posts. Invite people to share / like / comment or donate via text giving. And thank them when they do to help build relationships. Having a large number of followers is not a measure of success, it is more valuable to have followers who are engaged and active. Measure what is working by using free analytics tools (such as those in Hootsuite or Twitter / Facebook plus Google Analytics to count click-throughs) to measure and track the impact of your efforts. What calls to action have worked?

See also: Please donate in 140 characters?

What are your top tips?

What tips would you like to share with small charities? Which small charities do you think do social media really well and why? Please do share them here.

Can I help?

I help charities and non-profits with their digital comms. Whether you are looking for training for the team, copywriting or input into your content or digital strategy, please get in touch.

A call to arms – tell your stories

Kid's drawing - two smiling people holding hands

As I write this, the world is shifting. The pencil marks (or pen marks) are still fresh on the papers and people are trying to make sense of the referendum result last night and what coming out of the EU means for us all. These are uncertain and scary times.

In light of the dark events of last week, Zoe Amar wrote We need social good more than ever now and this morning on Twitter I have certainly seen a call to arms from charity people rolling their sleeves up to take on the new dawn (see Stuart Etherington’s blog). Many are expecting a rise in demand and drop in funding.

We are already operating in tough times, having gone through the fundraising fall-out and media storm. This week Vicky Browning of Charity Comms shared some recent research from charity supporters and non-supporters – Developing a positive response to the public’s view of charities. It revealed issues of trust and described how the media has been focussing on shaming charity bad practice which often reflects the public’s own negative experience. The article calls for reform but also some collective response to communicating the impact of the sector.

NCVO and others are working on this. In the meantime there are ways that charities can tell their stories. Last month I wrote this post for Zurich Insurance’s charity blog about Challenging charity bad press. It looks at some of the vehicles for positive storytelling including Guardian Voluntary’s beautiful The day I made a difference.

Since I wrote the Zurich post, two more websites have been launched (Positively Scottish and Good HQ). And Jude Habib’s BeingTheStory event in September is selling fast suggesting that organisations ‘get’ that they need to be better at sharing their impact.

So, as we enter day one, week one, month one of this new world, let’s take charge. Let’s share our stories, our positivity, our love and the difference we make.

Since I wrote this, other posts on a similar theme have been written, please do read them:

And the Charity Commission published new research on public trust which says that levels of confidence are the lowest ever recorded. The report found that trust is based on transparency, good management and ethical fundraising.

The Scottish Charity Regulator produced similar research. OSCR’s infographic (PDF) of results tells a similar story of trust being damaged by negative media stories and concerns about staff salary costs, money not going to the cause and harassaing fundraising methods.

In response, Karl Wilding’s latest blog talks about how charities need to change their practises and what NCVO is doing to build a framework for talking about charities.

How digital is your organisation?

Playmobil figures staring at a screen

A recent Guardian Voluntary Sector Network article by Zoe Amar argued that charity boards are failing to adapt to the digital age. And Karl Wilding argues on the NCVO blog that digital changes everything.

Some organisations already have digital at their core. Just look at how Parkinson’s UK advertised for their new role of Director of Digital Transformation and Communications. Whereas many know they should be doing more but don’t know where to start and others just don’t see digital as a priority.

Charles Handy at this week’s Cass CCE Charity Talk talked about the need for organisations to find their second curve to survive and in particular the impact of digital on this. He predicted that online platforms (such as Uber) will be central to the way we live our lives.

Two free resources this week look really useful to help organisations understand where they are digitally and improve their skills. Share them with your boards / Senior Managers / colleagues.

Measure and develop digital skills in your organisation

NCVO released a new free toolkit developed by Helen Ridgway. Building a digital workforce ‘includes templates, resources, tips and examples – and a series of bespoke workshops, training and support – to help you plan, design and deliver a comprehensive digital skills development programme for your organisation’. It is packed with 25+ documents including several about conducting a skills audit.

Also on my radar this week is the Third Sector Digital Maturity Matrix developed by Breast Cancer Care. It was developed to ‘to assess the maturity of an organisation’s digital capability (i.e. the current state) and compare it to where they aspire to be (i.e. desired to-be state)’. Download it for free.

What do you use?

Have you spotted any other useful resources? Or like NCVO and Breast Cancer Care, have you shared your own tools for other people to use? Please share in the comments below.