RIP KnowHow NonProfit

The website KnowHow NonProfit which I helped to build, finally disappeared this week. It launched in 2008 and merged into NCVO in 2012. NCVO launched a new website this week, finally putting KnowHow to rest. A 14-year footprint is pretty good going for a website. It made me reflect on what it was like to build something new and how our knowledge sharing as a sector has changed over the years.

About KnowHow

KnowHow was an innovative project by Cass CCE (now Bayes Business School CCE), led by Professor Ian Bruce and funded by the Lottery for three years. It launched in 2008 at a time when digital was coming into its own. Across the sector there was lots of useful information online but it was hard to know where to start or what was up-to-date. There were lot of umbrella organisation writing about the same topics. It was quite overwhelming, especially as the sophistication of search engines and our own searching skills were still developing.

KnowHow aimed to bring it all together, not replicate it. It collated, signposted and filled the gaps so people running small charities could be confident they could find information to help them. A hub for the sector.

I was part of a team of four, working with the agency Text Matters to build and launch the site. Coming up with a taxonomy for the site to reflect the things charities did, was one of the most challenging tasks of my career. It took months. Nothing else existed which we could base this on. I had a huge spreadsheet and endless print-outs to manage the categories and spent hours tweaking the naming of sections so they were clear and descriptive.

screenshot from KnowHow NonProfit. This section is called The Basics and was a kind of charity sector 101 - including pages called 'How organisations are funded' and 'Working for a nonprofit'. Other sections were called You and your team, Your organisation, Funding and income, Campaigns and awareness, Leadership.

I managed the content. We researched what was already out there and the gaps that needed filling. Experts from CCE and across the sector were commissioned to write new information and I edited it all together. It had a friendly and accessible tone of voice. We had a persona of a helpful, knowledgeable friend you could always turn to. We were writing for Joan in Preston, running a small organisation with no HR team or fundraising strategy.

We had four months to build a basic site and another four I think to get it all done. It was a stressful but exciting time and I learnt a lot about running a charity from CCE colleagues, especially governance and strategy which helped me a lot later as a consultant.

We also had a storytelling section to help illustrate common issues faced by small charities in a fun way. A working group of charity experts, led by Adah Kay imagined a small town, Millcaster, which had lots of charities based there. It was a soap opera, like The Archers but with charities rather than farming. A storytelling expert who wrote for The Bill also helped us build a system so we could remember who was married or related to who and where they all worked. A brilliant illustrator bought each episode to life with paper cut-outs she made and photographed, much like 1970s Paddington Bear. It was a lovely, creative thing to work on. Here’s an episode of Millcaster Tales I wrote about Mark, returning to work after an accident.

screenshot from the banner of Millcaster Tales. Shows group of people holding a banner saying Millcaster. Illustration.

Promotion and development

We toured the country on the charity conference circuit telling people about KnowHow. We mixed digital marketing (SEO, newsletters, very early days of Twitter) with in-person promotion to help people find KnowHow. We had merch including tote bags (think we were really early to do these too) and USB sticks. I still have some somewhere.

It was an exciting time to be working in digital as new ways of information sharing were growing. As the team grew, we added a forum, wiki how-to platform and later a portfolio of online courses as a StudyZone. All really innovative at the time. All needed lots of effort to encourage people to use them, the team worked very hard to make them work. I think I had three or four log-ins at one point to try and get discussions going!

Every time we saw the traffic growing, we celebrated. It’s a very different experience to build and launch something new. The websites I had worked on before were only 10 years old themselves but a new channel for established organisations with communities around them. KnowHow was totally new. Building traffic and waiting for the search engines to rate KnowHow was a long game.

KnowHow 2.0

In 2012, the site merged into NCVO and became its information site. Over 10 years, the site evolved but was still called KnowHow and with a knowhow URL.

It takes so much work to maintain a substantial information site like this. Keeping up with legislation, sector trends and best practice is time consuming. It’s costly and it is hard to make an income from it. Other sites which launched around the same time as KnowHow, folded once their funding ran out. We were really lucky to move into NCVO where there was a plan to keep it fresh.

When I left in 2012, traffic was growing fast and we had lots of positive feedback about how it helped people run their organisations. Since I wrote about its demise on LinkedIn this week, I’ve had lots of people contact me to say how useful KnowHow had been to them. As a web content manager, it is like gold to get actual feedback from people, especially so long after working on the project, so this was wonderful!

KnowHow was my first baby before I had real ones. I was very proud of what we all did to build it and how it grew over the years. So many brilliant people worked on it. In 2008 we would never have thought it would last for 14 years.

Knowledge sharing in the sector

The new NCVO website has a help and guidance section which still has echoes of KnowHow in it. But uses headings reflecting what charities need to know now. We didn’t talk about impact or digital so prominently in 2008.

screenshot from NCVO's new site. Headings include setting up, running a charity, governance, involving volunteering, funding and income, strategy and impact, safeguarding, digital and technology, closing down.

Online courses are now a pretty standard way of learning, thanks to Zoom and the pandemic. Many sector sites share templates, checklists, codes of best practice, self-assessment toolkits and draft policies and job descriptions. There are countless blogs from people sharing what they have learnt, to help others.

As a sector we have always been generous with our learning to help others, like our fictional Joan, do the best they can for their cause.

What I do now

Since I left KnowHow, I have become a consultant. I use my knowledge of information sharing, digital content and how charities work to help organisations with different projects – from comms strategies to recruitment and digital reviews.

I also started Radio Lento from scratch with my partner, reliving the experience of building an audience from nothing. Last month we reached 200,000 downloads. A big celebration milestone.

Do get in touch if I can help your organisation. I have space for new projects from September onwards.

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I was able to illustrate this post with screenshots from the site thanks to the amazing Wayback Machine.

Hot weather comms

The Met Office has issued a rare Red Weather Warning for extreme heat as temperatures are expected to reach 40 degrees in parts of the UK on Monday and Tuesday. Matt Taylor on Twitter explained why this is not normal and that it can impact on health, travel and power. This is dangerous weather. Our country and communities are not set up for this kind of heat.

In the run up to the hot days, I’ve seen lots of charities sharing useful advice about staying safe in a heatwave. Advice for older people, families, pet owners as well as how to watch out for people sleeping rough. See some examples in this thread.

Most use infographics to illustrate the advice to make it easy to understand (and add alt text so the information is available to all) like this example from British Red Cross.

Others use images showing positive action, like this example from Hackney Council.

But I have also seen lots sharing messages along the lines of ‘it’s going to be hot, enjoy the sun, but be safe’ using positive, happy images of sunny days and friendly emojis.

An extreme change in temperature like this may not be something to be celebrated or normalised.

Léane de Laigue, communications lead at Climate Outreach, speaking at the Charity Comms climate conference in May talked about the importance of framing comms around this issue with images. She talked about how the standard image of a stranded polar bear makes us feel distant from the climate crisis. It is something happening to an animal we’ll never see. She also showed examples of heatwaves which showed people jumping into water to cool down. A heatwave doesn’t mean ‘fun times in the heat’.

Images of people on beaches indicate that hot weather at home is to be enjoyed like going on holiday somewhere hot. It doesn’t show difficulties sleeping, working, moving around or health conditions that people might suffer with during a hot spell. It also doesn’t show us what a future of continued high temperatures looks like either.

If you are searching for inspiration for your own comms around a heatwave or the climate, take a look at the free picture library, Climate Visuals.

We have entered a period of climate crisis which our comms needs to reflect. This weather is not normal.

Your views

Have you seen any good or bad examples? I’ve been collecting some examples in this Twitter thread. Charity Comms made a thread of coping with the heat tweets too.

Have a look through some of the hashtags. What tone is being set by different types of accounts or across different platforms? As well as #Scorchio and #FunInTheSun, take a look at #Heatwave #UKHeatwave #BeWeatherAware #BeatTheHeat.

Newspaper front pages set the tone too. Here are some headlines from across the world over the weekend.

Has your organisation done any thinking about the climate crisis and how you talk about it in your comms or fundraising?

Update

News this week has been dominated by the extreme weather. Social media and newspapers have been full of images. The before and afters are quite different. For example, the Daily Mirror chose this image of sunbathers for their front cover on the day of record breaking temperatures. And then this of burning houses the next day. Will this week have been a climate crisis wake up call?

Digital legacy fundraising in 2022

I have been writing about digital legacy fundraising since 2013. Back then, legacy web content was pretty basic, functional, sometimes apologetic. By 2017 when I looked at 50 charity websites, things had moved on. Legacy content was bolder, more inspiring though smaller charities were further behind.

Where are we now? Analysis shows that legacy giving is booming. The market is growing but is becoming crowded. Charities need to do much more to stand out.

pretty picture of some wooden painted birds against a blue wall.

For the past two years I have been involved in Legacy Foresight’s Legacy Fundraising 2.0 programme looking at the role of digital in legacy fundraising. The pandemic has propelled this area of fundraising (as with all others) into a digital-first world of paid social media, virtual events, digital stewardship, analytics and user journeys. It has been a steep learning curve for many legacy teams as they have had to learn new skills and negotiate with digital colleagues who base success on much shorter-term metrics.

Now the genie is out of the bottle, we can’t go back, digital legacy fundraising is here to stay. With all this new activity, it can be easy to overlook the basics. When was the last time you read your own ‘gifts in wills’ pages on your website or reviewed the web traffic? Or looked at them next to the other fundraising pages? Or looked at the pages of your competitors’? Here are some observations on trends and developments across the sector.

Progress

A big shift since 2017 is that gifts in wills are now so much more prominent on charity websites. Analysis of 30+ charities found that for the majority, it was one or two clicks from the homepage to reach legacy content. Previously, content had been tucked away. We made people work to find it, tucked it away in ‘other ways to give’ alongside phone recycling and give as you shop schemes. It is encouraging to see legacies given the prominence it deserves. This reflects the normalisation of giving in this way, which Remember A Charity have been working on for so long, and a greater confidence in talking about legacies.

Language has changed too. In most cases charities use ‘gifts in wills’ rather than ‘legacy’ as a menu title. We will all use legacies to describe our work internally and in longer copy, but it is good to see that the language we use with our supporters, especially on titles, is simpler. Generally too, the active voice is present on the title of the page once there, for example ‘give a gift’ or ‘leave a gift’. Simple, clear, easy to skim read but with a call to action.

In comparison with 2013 and 2017 many more charities have developed strong propositions for their legacy ask. These frame the messaging with strong, persuasive statements which connect with their loyal supporters. They set the tone of voice with stories, information and images. Propositions align with the brand values and are often the end product of a significant piece of work involving research, audience insights and content development, usually done with an agency. The content is used across different channels and formats (on and offline) to give the supporter a consistent experience. They show an investment in legacies.

It is also great to see some really creative content around legacies. Legacy Futures produced a showreel of inspiring legacy activity for this year’s CIOF Convention. 18 people shared examples which had inspired or moved them including WaterAid’s What Jack Gave video (which is brilliantly integrated onto WaterAid’s legacy pages – do visit and read the copy as well as watching the film) and North Devon Hospice’s Forever Stone (which is a physical thing in their garden as well as an app and pin badge). Storytelling, humour and simplicity were common themes across the examples. Many of the examples feature prominently on the charity’s websites and their wider digital legacy fundraising.

The other massive change which wasn’t a factor at all in 2017 is online wills and free wills. Many charities offer this option now and there is a wide variety of ways they present this. One charity I found only had one page on their site about legacies and it pointed straight to an online will provider. Other charities include all the terms and conditions of a number of different providers they have partnered with. Getting the balance right for your audience is key. Data from your web traffic, user testing and other insights will help you get it right.

I am also seeing more charities removing barriers and being more transparent. For example, many now have a legacy promise in their sections. Do a search on Google for ‘legacy promise’ and see how many come up. While many charities still have a form to request a gifts in wills guide on their website (rather than sharing it freely as a PDF or other download), there is debate about whether this is a barrier or a connector. I’d love to see more research on whether a form puts people off asking for more information, whether receiving a guide through the post or electronically drives pledges, whether the data capture drives more donors through stewardship and relationship building, whether counting pack sends is useful or just a metric to justify budget. What’s your experience?

Work to do

I’ve often written about why images are important as part of digital content. As the demographic of who we are talking to changes, the images used needs to follow. No more stereotypical grey-haired white people in the last years of their lives. Our pages need to inspire and reflect our audiences. We’re talking to them directly now as they will be users of digital platforms. Dr Claire Routley shared research done with Haseeb Shabbir at the Fundraising Everywhere legacy conference in April about the diversity of people shown in images across legacy marketing. There is still lots of work to be done here.

We should also start ensuring our videos are accessible to everyone. Subtitles are widely used now which is great. But I still see so many videos with pretty images, text on screen, joyful music but no voiceover or audio description. As a sector we need to do better on the accessibility of videos.

I think there is also more work we can do to strenghten the links to brand and impact in legacy comms. People need reminding about the work you have done, and how your ambitions and values match their own. This builds trust, and reassurance that they are leaving their money to you and you are going to do good things with it. I like how Greenpeace UK do this.

Checklist for digital legacy fundraising in 2022

  • 1 or 2 clicks from the homepage
  • Gifts in wills – no jargon titles
  • Strong proposition
  • Stand-out content
  • Legacy promise
  • Unnecessary barriers removed
  • Right balance of free will options
  • Diverse images
  • Accessible videos
  • Show impact to build trust

The market is changing

As legacy champions Meg Abdy and Rob Cope have said, the future of legacies is huge. But the market is getting crowded.

Small charities are joining the party. In 2019 I volunteered for Small Charity Week’s big advice day. I spoke to four small charities who wanted to get better at legacy fundraising. I volunteered again this year and spoke to two about legacies, both were so much further along than the ones in 2019. It’s a small sample but a noticeable difference. If small charities with closer personal relationships with their donors get the message right about the impact they could have with legacies at a local or specialist cause level, this may well be more appealing to them than leaving a gift to a mega charity they also support.

Shelter say in their legacy promotion that big changes are needed in the country. These will only be possible with big money to spend on the work needed. Investing in digital legacy comms now should pay off in the future. Whether your charity is large or small, the time is now.

Get support

Do take a look at the Legacy Foresight’s Legacy Fundraising 2.0 programme. The next round starts in the autumn. The programme includes benchmarking analysis of web traffic and actions.

Join Remember A Charity to be part of a movement helping to grow legacy giving. Work happens all year round but there’s LOTS of noise during Remember A Charity Week which starts on 5th September this year.

I do bespoke benchmarking and content support for charities with legacy fundraising and other areas of digital comms. Do get in touch via Twitter or find me on LinkedIn if you think I can help.

Read more

IWD and the Gender Pay Gap Bot

Deeds not words. How a bot on Twitter rocked the posturing of comms on International Women’s Day (IWD).

Like thousands of others, I enjoyed the brilliantly powerful campaigning work of the Gender Pay Gap App on Twitter on International Women’s Day created by Francesca Lawson and Ali Fensome. In case you didn’t see it, the bot automatically RT’d organisation’s posts shared with an IWD hashtag, with a quote tweet of their Gender Pay Gap stats sourced from gov.uk data. It was developed for IWD last year and improved to make a significant impact this year.

The tweets

There were some with very minor or no gap. Hooray!

Some reported women receiving a higher median hourly pay than men. Not ok, but these percentages were generally low and not typical across whole sectors.

There were many many many more where the gap was significant and in men’s favour.

The bot aimed to shine a light on the pink-washing of IWD and called for deeds not words. Its profile image says ‘Stop posting platitudes. Start fixing the problem.’

It clearly and simply, using reported data, called out hypocrisy of organisations celebrating the achievements of women, while not actually paying them or having them in senior roles. It asked us to judge these organisations by their actions, not their words.

The response

Law firms, airlines, universities, private schools, NHS organisations, transport groups and some charities came out particularly badly. There were many organisations with gaps of 20, 30, 40%+.

It was fascinating and horrifying to see many of the original tweets being deleted and reposted without the hashtag to out-smart the bot. Madeline Odent created a very long thread of organisations who deleted or re-posted their tweets, generating 25k likes.

It was also interesting to see how other organisations didn’t do anything, even when huge gaps were reported and people replied to the messages with the bot’s tweet. Is it worse if they didn’t care? Or maybe they don’t look at interactions?

Impact

In a single day, the bot raised awareness of the realities of women in the workforce in the UK. Using data like this in a clear and simple way, it cut across all the noise.

Co-founder Francesca very kindly shared some of the stats since 1 March 2022 with me:

  • The bot generated 1136 tweets.
  • It had 78.1m impressions
  • It generated 308.9K likes, 55.2K retweets and 2.4K replies.
  • Followers grew by 197k in one day.
  • The single tweet with the most impressions was a RT of Goldman Sachs which reported a 36.8% lower gap. It generated 5.7m impressions.
  • The most engaged with tweet was this from English Heritage (with a 3.9% lower gap). It had 241k engagements.

Pretty impressive stats for an account which only had 2k followers the day before!

Lessons

Why did it work? Its premise was clean and simple. It’s language was clear and factual, leaving viewers to get angry. It generated tweets automatically using official data. It was well designed and timely. It generated a lot of activity on a busy comms day.

Was it always right? I did see one instance where it appeared to have referenced the wrong organisation. And another where the 73% stat was explained as data from a heavily furloughed workforce in comments and later a statement from the CEO, but the eye-watering stat lead to a swelling of negative pushback.

Will it make any difference? Certainly, it made a lot of noise on Twitter. It gave us as viewers, a new sport and a reason to talk about this. The responses to Francesca’s tweet about the app has had hundreds of people congratulating her. Throughout the day I saw lots of people discussing pay and looking for trends across sectors. Someone said it was a useful tool to see which companies to avoid when looking for a job. Others talked about a damage to brand reputation.

It gave many social media managers a difficult day but did it reach the CEOs or HR teams or shareholders? Will it make them take action? How widely was the data shared on LinkedIn where it might hit organisations harder?

Will we see similar bots using data on other inequalities? Let’s hope so. Using data to challenge empty words is a strong campaigning technique.

Now, more than ever is the time for deeds not words.

Read more about the bot

NB The Gender Pay Gap is based on the difference between the average hourly pay rate for men and the average hourly pay rate for women in an organisation. It is not about equal pay for the same job. This from Timewise explains more.

Written with thanks to Francesca who shared the data with me. She also wrote 5 questions to ask yourself before IWD which you should definitely read.

Charity sector’s response to the Ukraine crisis

The situation in Ukraine is urgent and shocking and changing day-by-day. It can be difficult to know how to respond as an organisation. Do you launch an appeal? Use the news to campaign? Do you share your expertise of war situations or launch a new service? Do you manage people’s worries? Or not mention it at all, business as usual, not wanting to add to the noise? How might that change as the situation changes?

Here are some useful links and examples of the sector’s response to help you plan your own.

Advice for charities

NCVO’s blog post by Alex Farrow looks at how charities and civil society can support Ukraine. It also explores potential implications on charities such as increasing costs, cyber attacks and disaster recovery. Clare Mills of CFG also shared thoughts about the potential impact of the crisis to the sector.

CIoF’s Daniel Flusky has written advice about fundraising during an emergency with some excellent tips for charities. This includes being clear about how donations will be used. Here’s a nice example of this from Hope and Homes for Children.

The Charity Commission issued a statement about potential implications of the crisis on charities and a reminder about running effective appeals and managing funds.

Fundraising Everywhere have started a list of consultants offering their time for free to support organisations running emergency appeals.

Examples of appeals

The DEC launched its appeal on 2 March. (Update – It has raised £100m in four days.)

UK Fundraising have a list of fundraising appeals launched for Ukraine.

Refugee Action haven’t launched their own appeal but have shared advice about how to help including appeals and actions people can take.

London Plus have a google doc of London organisations offering and fundraising for help.

With so many different appeals, it can be hard for anyone to know where best to donate. The Charity Commission shared how to give safely. OSCR in Scotland issued something similar.

Deborah Meaden tweeted a plea for people to donate money rather than items due to the difficulty of transporting supplies overseas. See also this post about donations of ‘stuff’ and the problems it can cause – Ever sent clothes or toys in response to a disaster?

Emma Insley wrote about why donating to AirBnB hosts might not be the right thing to do either.

Services and support

Some stories from Ukraine are still getting out at this stage. For example, this dog shelter received funds from ifaw.

UK charities have started to offer services to people with connections with Ukraine. For example Relate are offering free telephone support for people with family in Ukraine.

St John Ambulance translated their first aid advice into Ukrainian and Russian.

Citizens Advice shared information about bringing family members from Ukraine to the UK.

Communicating about war

ICRC shared a thread about the rules of war.

Help for Heroes are calling for the media to be sensitive about the way they communicate about the war. Here’s their comms guide.

Greenpeace are raising concerns about the divisive language used by some of the reporting.

The Rory Peck Trust are running workshops for journalists about reporting during a war. They also have a crisis fund to support freelance journalists working in the conflict area.

Full Fact shared tips about how to check that information is correct before sharing it.

Cruse have shared information about bereavement through conflict and war.

Campaigns

Some organisations are using the situation to raise extra profile about legislation changes going through parliament. Like the treatment of refugees – see Freedom from Torture.

And the Policing Bill from Greenpeace.

Engaging Networks shared a thread of appeals and campaigns.

Greenpeace are asking the Government to Get Off Gas.

Managing mental health

Mind offer tips about managing stress and dealing with anxiety.

5 ways to help manage your mental health during a stressful newscycle, from Rethink.

There are useful resources from BBC Newsround on how to talk to children about the situation. Tips from Save the Children and British Red Cross too.

Crisis comms or business as usual?

What comms mode are you in? If you are a disaster relief or humanitarian charity, you are likely to be in crisis mode. If your work doesn’t touch these areas, it can be hard to know how to respond. Is it insensitive to broadcast your everyday news and events? You’ll have to decide on a day-by-day basis as the situation changes. People still need good news and other work doesn’t stop during this time. But it is worth reviewing scheduled messaging, stopping any campaigns if needed and being conscious of the language or images you are using.

Many organisations are sharing messages of unity with Ukraine. A few have changed the colours in their logos, eg Women in Journalism, and this BHF charity shop decorated its window in the Ukrainian colours. What is right for your organisation?

It’s a good time to review your crisis comms plan and think about possible future scenarios and how you would react. Look especially at the NCVO post above (how charities and civil society can support Ukraine) about the possible impact on charities such as increasing energy costs and cyber attacks.

I’ve seen a few examples of companies returning to sharing important information as images of text (see this example from MandS). This inaccessible comms method was widely used lockdowns, especially by supermarkets and Government. See why you shouldn’t tweet images of text.

More

What stand-out content or appeals have you seen from charities? Please do share in the comments.

Building a legacy fundraising strategy at CancerCare

Guest post by Anna Webster, Individual Giving Fundraiser at CancerCare. Anna is responsible for all areas of individual giving at her charity. She shows that an impactful legacy strategy doesn’t need big budgets or time. She explains that legacy confidence and internal culture is key.

Anna gave this inspiring presentation at the CIoF Legacy Fundraising conference on 2 December 2021 (you can still buy tickets if you want to watch the recording from this and the other excellent sessions througout the day). She very kindly allowed it to be shared here.

Background

CancerCare is a regional charity supporting people affected by cancer or bereavement in North Lancashire and South Cumbria. Gifts in Wills have always been important to us. On average, legacies make up around a quarter of our annual income.

‘Creating a legacy strategy’ has been on our to-do list for a long time but legacy income was often a strand of our fundraising that got knocked further down the list in favour of more urgent, or more ‘exciting’ fundraising opportunities. We’re a smaller charity. We work at a regional level. We don’t have a budget for legacy marketing.

When the pandemic hit, overnight our in-person events had to stop at the same time as demand for our support increased dramatically. Legacy income became a real lifeline.

It really hit home that if we wanted to maintain this important source of funding and secure the future of our charity, we needed to give this area a bit more attention. We needed to be more pro-active and less re-active!

As well as challenges, the pandemic also gave us a bit of space to breathe and to reflect on our fundraising activities. We were just doing the same things year in year out, because it was ‘just what we do’. For the first time, we had space to get to those jobs that had fallen to the bottom of the list, including creating our legacy strategy.

Creating the strategy

Working from home at my kitchen table during lockdown, I took some time to think about what we really wanted to achieve, and what was manageable, given the size of our organisation and limited resource. I did a lot of reading online about what made a ‘good legacy strategy’ and came up with five key headlines.

Working with my manager, we made a list of tasks and deadlines that would help us to achieve those key aims. Creating the strategy was part of my ‘agile sprint’; a focus list of tasks to complete in a short period of time, so the first draft went back and forth a few times, with comments and suggestions added until we had a finished strategy within a couple of weeks!

It’s very much a working document, that I constantly refer to, rather than something that is stuck in a drawer and forgotten about.

The strategy has five aims. Here they are along with examples showing what we have been doing under each.

1. Establish a clear legacy vision

We are asking people to join us and leave a gift that will achieve something big in the future. We should be able to communicate our legacy message simply and clearly – in one sentence if possible.

Our legacy message is essentially ‘A gift in your Will to CancerCare can ensure no-one in our community has to face cancer or bereavement alone’.

Once we had this clear vision to say what a legacy gift to CancerCare could achieve, we made it an aim to put it everywhere! A lot of our legacy marketing is about repetition. A drip-drip message to make sure legacy is always there!

We’ve also built into our strategy to review the vision regularly in-line with our other key messages and the re-brand we recently went through.

2.  Be a legacy confident organisation

Postcard from CancerCare saying - More than 90% of CancerCare's work is funded by people like you who donate, fundraise or give a gift in their Will. It then lists eight different ways to give including 'pledge a gift in your Will' at number 6.

We wanted to promote that Gifts in Wills are special, but not unusual. It was something that we had previously been apologetic about. Too scared to mention for fear of upsetting anyone. We want all representatives of CancerCare (staff, trustees, volunteers) to be confident in acknowledging that Gifts in Wills are an important way in which our work is funded and feel able to have a basic conversation on the subject as well as refer further action to the fundraising team. It also helps to share the load. Top tip – your message will be further reaching if it’s not just you shouting about it!

To achieve this, we deliver internal training on a regular basis.  This varies from PowerPoint presentations on Zoom meetings, quizzes sent round via email, and we’re working on a ‘basic info sheet’ for our therapy team.

We ensure that wherever there is a list of ways to support CancerCare, giving a gift in their Will is given as an option. We’re making sure that staff feel confident about this list. We’ll be giving out postcards (pictured above) at Christmas.

We created a funding statement that explains how our work is funded (donations, fundraising and gifts in Wills). We use this everywhere. On leaflets, on our website, on our letter heads, social media posts, in presentations we give to community groups. (Again drip-drip!)

This is working – my colleague who organises our events told me that she’d been able to have a conversation with a supporter who wanted to let us know that he had included a gift in his Will to CancerCare. She felt confident to have this conversation with him and then referred him on to me for the questions he had that were a bit more in depth.

3.  Deliver outstanding supporter care

Handwritten thank you card from CancerCare

If we treat our supporters well, and build good relationships with them, they are more likely to consider a gift in their Will. We’ve also introduced an organisational stewardship plan to make sure that our donors and fundraising supporters feel valued and build their loyalty to the organisation.  We are trying to make outstanding supporter care the ‘norm’ and an ‘inbuilt’ part of our processes.

We thank people promptly when they donate or fundraise, with personalised thank you letters or postcards. This year we sent out first postal newsletter in over eight years, helping us to feedback to supporters about the difference they make.

One thing that we also try to do, when we receive a gift in a Will, where possible, we write to the families or lay executors to acknowledge the gift left by their loved one, invite them to visit one of our centres for a cup of tea! This is a level of personalisation that we can do as a smaller charity and in this way, the legacy gift in not the end of a relationship, but potentially the beginning of a relationship with the family. This is also really helpful in gathering legacy stories to help us achieve our next aim….

4.  Create engaging legacy marketing

We don’t have a huge budget for legacy marketing so our marketing is done without spending a lot. We mostly try to communicate why supporters should leave a gift in their will by telling good stories and using the right language.

We try to tell human stories, in a sensitive way. We explain the difference they’ve made locally. For example, Sam Wyatt whose gift made a difference in her hometown. We aim to tell these stories as often as we can; including them on our website, in our e-newsletter, annual paper newsletter & send them to our local newspaper. (drip-drip… always there)

We aim for our marketing to dispel some of the myths that exist around legacy giving. For example, we include sentences like ‘In 2020/2021, the charity has been grateful to receive gifts ranging from £300 to £31,000.’ to show that you don’t have to be a millionaire to give a gift in your Will to CancerCare.

We also have a Will Writing Service to make it as easy as possible for people to make their Will. It’s not free, but a number of local solicitors offer our service users, supporters and volunteers the chance to make or amend a basic Will, waiving their fees in engage for a donation to CancerCare. We are a cancer and bereavement charity and we know that a lot of the people we support worry about having an up-to-date Will. It’s almost an extension of the support we offer to give them this opportunity to write a Will. In fact, the information brochure we created (free to us because the costs were covered by advertiser) is called One Less Thing To Worry About.

One of our key messages is that we understand that when making a Will, the needs of their family and loved ones will always come first, but after you’ve taken care of those closest to you, a gift in your Will for CancerCare could help to ensure no-one in our community ever has to face cancer or bereavement alone.

5. Steward legacy pledgers

Now that we are having more conversations about gifts in Wills, we know that there are supporters on our database who have told us that they have included a gift in their Wills to CancerCare. We need to make sure that these supporters are treated well and nurtured long into the future.

We do this by simply recording on our database when people enquire about gifts in Wills, request a brochure or tell us outright that CancerCare are mentioned in their Will. Again, we are a small enough organisation to make personal phone calls to check-in, to keep them updated about news we think they’d be interested in, or invite them in for a cup of tea and a catch up!

Onwards and upwards

Looking back over the 18 months since we created our first-ever legacy strategy, we can see the differences already. We are having more conversations about gifts in Wills than ever before and have far more living legacy pledgers recorded on our database. Although we probably won’t see a huge financial impact this soon, we are confident that the actions we are taking now will serve our charity – and importantly our beneficiaries – well in the future.

Of course, now that we are getting the basics right, we want to add more to our strategy and have some exciting ideas in the pipeline. One thing is for sure, by creating the strategy, we’ve created habits that are here to stay. Legacy marketing now has a permanent place on our organisation’s agenda and it will never go back to the bottom of the priority list! Onwards and upwards!

Further reading

Here are some of the useful links and examples shared during the conference.

If you were at the conference, what were your top takeaways? Please do share in the comments.

See also:

#RememberACharityWeek 2021 on Twitter

This year’s Remember a Charity (RaC) week campaign was called Will You? It used a clear and simple ask in bold colours which charity members personalised with photos and their own messages. There was a static image version as well as a gif version. RaC shared a video of their Insta feed which was full of colour.

This annual week is used by member charities to promote the gifts in wills message and used by the wider sector as a ‘safe time’ to talk about legacies (although I’d hope that the campaign has done enough by now to make digital legacy comms, year-round). Media coverage is driven by RaC and once again this year ambassador Len Goodman was spreading the simple message of write a will and if you can, leave a bit to charity. And the Wombles were out in force, especially on Facebook.

Rob Cope wrote this call to action about the importance of legacy fundraising – Why the sector can’t afford to drop the legacy baton now. He stressed the potential of legacies for charities as the baby boomer generation ages, but described a sector where budgets and teams are being cut.

What does this mean for digital legacy fundraising? Historically it was seen that the target (age) groups preferred paper-based comms and face-to-face events, they didn’t use digital. But this year has forced legacy teams to explore and expand their online marketing and stewardship. It’s an exciting time to see how this grows.

Engagement on organic Twitter

As an insight into the messages shared this week, here are some trends from this year’s organic comms on Twitter. Unsurprisingly video features highly but well formatted tweets with strong statements and images also did well. Big audiences did not guarantee good engagement.

Engagement on organic Twitter is generally quite low these days, it is harder and harder to get much of a lift. Many of the standard tweets I looked at using the RaC artwork got very minimal engagement (like Macmillan’s). It’s not to say that it wasn’t effective, just that people didn’t share, reply or like it. The click through rates may have been brilliant or it may be effective as a reminder or motivator for an off-line activity.

I was instead looking for tweets which got good engagement. I wanted to see if there were any particular ‘winners’ or stand-out content as well as trends. Again, higher numbers of likes and views does not necessarily translate to clicks to more info or pledgers.

Strong messages

‘Our work to help animals will not stop’. This stand-out message from IFAW UK is really well formatted – strong first sentence, followed by more detail about your action and its impact. It is well spaced and includes emoji and a link to make it easy to digest. Hashtags at the end help to explain the context (only niggle is they should use CamelCaseToMakeThemAccessible). A montage of six images rather than the usual one or four also makes it stand out.

“There are developments on the horizon around better treatments for prostate cancer. I want to help make that possible.” Great stuff from Prostate Cancer. Simple storytelling, few words, well structured. Clear action and link. The same post did better on PCUK’s Facebook.

Videos

This was one of three tweets shared by the Manchester United Foundation about legacies during the week. The first was a customised RaC graphic which also got good engagement. This 3 minute video was also RTd by the main Manchester United account to its 27million followers.

A similar uplifting 2min film was shared by Lord’s Taverners to their much smaller audience.

RSPB launched a legacy campaign on the first day of the week with a video which will air online and TV called Time Flies. Here it is on You Tube where there is a 30 second version too. It was created with Aardman. On the RSPB website it appears under the heading – Your legacy is the future of nature.

First-hand storytelling

Storytelling by a charity’s beneficiary or testimonials from legacy pledgers or stories from previous donors are mainstays of offline and web page legacy fundraising. Here are some examples from Twitter this year.

Andy from St Mungo’s told how his life has been transformed. ‘Help someone like Andy transform their life, by leaving a gift in your will.’ The video has had 180 views and a handful of engagements (slightly more than daily average and another legacy video they shared in the week). It got more engagement on Facebook.

Glyndebourne ran a series of videos (My lasting legacy) through the week with supporters talking to camera. The opera house set up a special club for pledgers – the John Christie Society. Its ambassador, Dame Felicity Lott shared her story in the first one which had the most engagement.

Not all stories got good engagement, like this from Marie Curie.

Showing impact

There were also a few examples of organisations sharing their impact to drive support.

Content which your audience likes

A safer bet for legacy content is sharing images or stories which appeal to your audience. It might get good engagement but needs to be hooked-in to the legacy ask.

  • This tweet from Badgers Trust appeared in my automatic top tweets listing. Did it get lots of likes because it is a nice picture? It doesn’t include a link to make it easy to get in touch.
  • Lovely cat pictures from Cats Protection got good engagement.
  • This about ancient graffiti from SPAB also appeared in my top tweets. The text and video are interesting content but not related to RaCW, just use the hashtag. More could have been made of this. They did share other content during the week, the whole thing might have worked better as a thread.
  • This National Gallery tweet showing a painting which had been acquired thanks to a legacy got good engagement too (but lower than their usual levels).

Others

Be like Handel and leave a legacy – Coram.

I didn’t see anyone else using polls. This from Crohn’s and Colitis was interesting on their fundraising account where they shared other legacy content through the week including other polls.

Legacy fundraising good reads

Your views

Is your organisation part of the Remember a Charity consortium? If so did you join in with promotions during the week? How did it go? Which channels worked best?

Did you see (or launch) any stand-out comms during the week? Did you run paid campaigns and if so, how did these do?

Please do share in the comments.

Tweets as images of text

In March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic Tallie Proud and I noticed a new protocol on social media. Key messages and important information from companies, organisations and government about the pandemic were being shared as images of text. Think back to the guides about how to wash your hands, rules about what you could do, who should shield, opening hours and availablity of supermarket slots. As things were changing so fast, this was a way to fit as much information in one place as possible, branded and clear.

But it wasn’t clear for everyone. It resulted in these channels being inaccessible for people who couldn’t access images. It resulted in them being excluded from independently accessing this information. Not just people using screen readers but those with low bandwidth, small screens and data limits. This is what a tweet looks like with the image turned off:

Sample tweet with the image turned off. Says: Important information from us about covid.

As the days went by, we saw more and more of these messages. We got cross and decided to do something about it. We set up a Twitter account – @CovidAccessInfo – to remind people that their content should be accessible to all.

We sent a lot of messages to supermarkets and high profile companies, publicly and privately. The ones which made us really angry were the official ones – government, health bodies, councils all sharing vitally important information using graphics and who should have known better.

10 Downing Street sharing an image of the letter sent to all households. No alt text. No description.

We also saw lots of videos with no voiceover or text alternative (though this one did have an 8-thread tweet sharing the tips, just not linked to the original tweet).

Some listened, apologised and responded by offering accessible content. Some dismissed and some ignored our requests. We often ended up trying to add the accessibility ourselves that the tweet should have included. We replied to lots of tweets, just sharing the text on the image so there was an alternative available somewhere. Later-on charities like RNIB took up the mantle and worked with government to sort out their comms.  

2021 and we’re still here

Now a year on, the issue of inaccessible information in text graphics continues. Over the last few days, we’ve again seen organisations choosing to respond to issues with a statement in a graphic with no other way of reading it. 

We can’t let this be the norm and let it go unchallenged. Social media needs to be a place which is accessible to everyone. We all need to do our bit. Being busy or not thinking about it is not an excuse.

How to make your tweets accessible

  • If your message is under 280 characters, post it to Twitter as a standard tweet, particularly if it’s a reply to someone.  
  • Turn it into a thread if it’s longer than 280 characters.
  • If you have to use a text graphic, include the text in the tweet. Either (1) add a link to a webpage where the statement is in html (not graphic or PDF), (2) add the text as a thread underneath or (3) add the text in the image description.
  • Text graphics shouldn’t be posted on their own with no accompanying text. 
  • Text videos with no voiceover shouldn’t be posted on their own without accompanying text. (Also don’t make videos with no voiceover).

Plus:

  • If sharing non-informational images (ie photographs / illustrations), use the alt-text option describing what’s in the image. 
  • Use a strong contrast between text and a background on a graphic.
  • Choose a large font.
  • Keep the text short and simple. Complicated language can also exclude people. 
  • Include subtitles on videos.

Examples

Do your bit

Want to learn more about accessibility on social media? Helpful Digital have written a useful guide. 

If you see a business posting text graphics without any consideration for accessibility, let them know. Here’s a @covidaccessinfo tweet calling out bad practice in case you spot one and want to say something. Also, point them to this post or the Helpful blog post linked above.

>>With thanks to Tallie whose post this is based on.

Digital advent calendars 2020

Here are some highlights from this year’s digital advent calendars shared by charities, museums and other not-for-profits. It’s been a grim year, so here is some festive cheer for you to view and share with others.

Yarn-bombed santa on a bollard. Photographed on a rainy street last year

Christmas cheer

Roundabout drama - a child drawing a character from the story

Roundabout Drama have a story behind each door of their advent calendar. Day 1 is illustrated by Maxmillian and Sebastian.

Each day Streetwise Opera are sharing contributions from artists who have joined in with A Gallery For All.

Manchester Museum are sharing a caring Christmas calendar.

Jane Austen’s House are sharing a 12 days of Christmas traditions which Jane might have enjoyed. Includes audio recorded by Emma Thompson and material from their archive.

See also:

Stories and successes

screenshot from Cats Protection. Lovely tabby cat

Cats Protection are sharing their annual #CatventCalendar with heart-warming moggy stories every day by email and social media.

Throughout December Stroke Assocation will be celebrating #HopeAfterStroke – sharing stroke survivors’ and carers first glimmers of hope and celebrating the way the charity and supporters have helped to provide hope.

See Me Scotland are sharing nuggets from their year and resources about mental health. Follow #AntiStigmaAdvent.

Gateshead People’s Assembly are sharing photos to remind their community what pre-pandemic life looked like. “It won’t be long until we are all back together.”

Sharing learning

Dr Jenner’s House is running a #VaccineAdventCalendar. The Preventable Disease Advent Calendar will share 24 different infectious diseases, all of which can be prevented by vaccination.

CIPR Not-for-Profit are once again sharing learning through their Twitter calendar.

NAVCA are doing the same.

Liverpool John Moore University’s Student Advice and Wellbeing team are sharing content each day including a live cookalong and DIY gift making on Instagram.

Love Food Hate Waste are sharing tips about reducing food waste over Christmas.

Sharing collections

Museums, galleries and heritage sites are sharing items from their collections. Expore #MuseumAdvent and take a look at:

Actions

BBC Bitesize kindness advant calendar. Day 1 is a nice hot drink, day 2, a bear hug, day 3, a compliment

The best of the rest

Seen any others? Let me know and I’ll add them here.

** Follow some of these calendars using this handy Twitter list. **

Join in

It’s not too late to run a calendar. Last year many organisations ran 12 days of Christmas reveals in the quiet time after Christmas. If you have some content to make your community smile this time of year, why not package it as a calendar?

See digital advent calendars – tips and examples.

Festive fundraising

I should also give a special mention to Richard Sved whose Festive Fundraising Jukebox is raising money for Youth Talk and Alcohol Change UK. Here’s The Holly and the Ivy. He’s taking requests. Get yours in early!

Good gifts 2020

Times are tough. Lockdown 2, darker nights, grim Covid predictions and more uncertainty means we all need a boost. Last week (mid-October) I talked so someone who had already put up her Christmas tree. Mince pies have already been in the shops for a while. This year Christmas will be different but there are lots of ways it can still be special.

Now is a good time to find interesting, fun and ethical gifts for your loved ones. Here are some suggestions about how you can use your Christmas budget to support local businesses, social enterprises, museums and charities. They need your support more than ever.

Christmas tree

Buy good gifts

Sign up to sites like Easy Fundraising and The Giving Machine to generate donations to your favourite charities while you shop online. If you are running a Secret Santa, use the Giving Machine’s Secret Santa generator to make it easy.

Buy a gift for someone else

Support a seasonal gift charity campaign (more to come as they launch).

  • Donate £10 to support Book Trust’s annual campaign. “Christmas won’t be magical for every child.”
  • Be Secret Santa for a child in need via Stipey Stork, a Surrey based babybank.
  • Help a child deprived of an education with a school bag and its contents for £20 via charity School in a Bag. You can track the bag to see exactly where it’s gone.  
  • NEW! Choose Love. Buy gifts for refugees from £5. Includes emergency blankets, hot food parcels and language and skills support. Here’s the Choose Love this Christmas social campaign.  
  • Help Little Village find the perfect gift for 1000 children in London this year. Buy a gift voucher from £5.
  • Does your local charity have a wishlist? Support them by buying items they need. For example, the Crisis Skylight in Newcastle has biscuits, face masks and gloves on their Amazon wishlist.
  • This year there are 17 Xmas Dinner projects around the country, supporting care leavers. Each is fundraising and many have wishlists for gifts. Find one near you.
  • Oxfam Unwrapped – gifts from £5. 
  • NEW! Adopt a word from the Ministry of Stories to support the next generation of storytellers. Flummery and moonglade are still available….

Spread Christmas cheer

Why not pool your funds and do something bigger as a team or family?

There are also countless fundraising appeals, virtual Christmas jumper days and Reverse Advent Calendar campaigns which you could get involved with.

What are you doing?

Are you planning a Zoom Secret Santa or a lockdown Christmas kitchen party? How are you planning to boost morale and spread some festive cheer this year? I’d love to know. Please share in the comments.

See also…

Charity digital advent calendars – tips and examples if you are running a digital calendar for your charity or community.

Disclaimer: all links included in this post are examples and intended for guidance only. Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement. Please do your own research before making purchases.