Using social media for crisis comms

How your culture, use of social media and the crisis itself influences whether you should use social media to respond.

This blog post was produced for Hospice UK following the HUK Comms Day in July. It is intended for hospices and healthcare providers but is relevant to others too.

chaotic hose pipe, swirling patter

What does your crisis comms plan say about how you’ll use social media? Does your social media policy or strategy (if you have one) include detail about how to respond to an emergency or high-profile story? Do you have the skills and processes in place so you could hit the ground running if you needed to?

Charities have consistently been in the headlines this year. Some cases such as Oxfam, GOSH and Alder Hey were front page news for weeks. Charities such as RNLI and Dogs Trust had to set the records straight when journalists mis-reported stories about their work. We live in a time where people can voice their opinions loudly.

In crisis situations (which can be bad or good), social media can be well used to promote your side of the story, to connect with supporters and to even turn a story around. But to get it right, you need to fully assess the situation to work out how to respond. What you do depends on having a culture and framework where social media is a well-oiled comms tool.

Deciding what to do depends on the crisis and your approach to social media.

Different types of crisis

For the comms team or social media officer, a crisis occurs when they have to drop everything to work on the issue. Therefore a crisis can take various forms. For example a crisis can be:

  • an organisational crisis – physical incidents (fire, flood, power cut, bad weather etc) / patient incident / funding crisis / fraud / malpractice / data breach / high-profile patient / patron in the news
  • a crisis in the local area – as community-based organisations, should you join in with local issues? If a local crisis hits (such as a big accident, fire, local celebrity scandal) do you have capacity or the inclination to connect with local people or show solidarity?
  • social media ‘crisis’ – this means something which is primarily on social media. This could be something you have started yourself which has ‘gone viral’ or a hashtag you need to join in with, or a patient documenting their illness which includes the care you are giving them.

How you respond depends on the situation. And the culture and community you have created around your comms.

A social culture

Does your organisation primarily use social media to broadcast? This means that your Twitter or Facebook feeds are effectively noticeboards announcing events or news? There is no interaction or engagement.

Or is your social media, social? An organisation with fully social channels typically does many of the following:

  • receives and responds to comments – building relationships with supporters
  • comments on other people’s messages – this means they follow and listen to others, responding where relevant
  • connects with local people and businesses away from their own channels – either in other forums or groups, or joining in with social media ‘events’ like #BirminghamHour
  • being creative with social – joining in with trending or topical issues
  • using storytelling
  • trusting staff and volunteers to use social media in their work (this is especially key if you had to draft in colleagues to help out in a crisis)
  • building a group of followers who stand up for the organisation.

If you have a social rather than broadcast approach to your comms and social media, when a crisis hits, you will be in a better place to respond. Partly because you’ll probably have a bigger audience but mostly because you will have an engaged one.

Comms planning

Key to responding well is planning. Have you done a training exercise around a crisis situation? Have you brainstormed situations and standard responses? Even if these scenarios never occur, it is useful to have done the thinking so you can apply it to a different situation.

It is essential to have done thinking around:

  • your tone of voice and housestyle. How is this different on social media? How would your press statement work cut and pasted on to Twitter? Do you need to change the jargon or simplify the message? What images could you use?
  • your integrated comms – how will you use different social channels? How will this integrate with your website, print and email comms?
  • processes around publishing to social media, including monitoring and responding out of office hours. Do you have a list of who uses social media in a professional capacity to represent your organisation so you can get hold of them in an emergency?

I have produced a set of questions to help you work out whether it is a good idea to respond or not – see Crisis Comms Questions (PDF). There are no right or wrong answers and not every question will be relevant. This is intended to help you think about the situation either as part of your crisis comms planning in ‘peacetime’ or if you are in a live crisis.

screenshot of questions about whether to take action or not

Examples

In addition to well documented crisis, played out on social including Oxfam, GOSH, RNLI and Dogs Trust, here are some examples of hospice crisis comms in action.

St Giles Hospice – #MakeFredFamous

Some of the tweets received to #MakeFredFamous

91-year old Fred attends St Giles Hospice’s computer group. The team asked people to wish him happy birthday via their Twitter feed. It took off!

To date there have been 45k retweets and 40k likes and thousands of people sent birthday messages. Fred was featured on local news and radio.

The team worked out when to calm the situation down and regularly checked in with Fred that he was ok with the attention. Fred signed off the press release. The coverage helped them to tell people about a different aspect of their work as Fred wasn’t a patient.

Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall

Sample of tweets responding to a theft at Thorpe Hall

When someone stole donations from the hospice last Christmas, the team wrote an open letter to the thief on their website and promoted it on the social channels. This inspired people to do something to help.

Local people, businesses and community groups rallied round and gave donations. The story got on the local news. The hospice was overwhelmed by the response and over £5000 was raised.

Thorpe Hall could have said nothing about the incident but by approaching it in a positive way, the story spread and inspired people to get involved with great results.

Useful reads

See also 5 digital comms tips for hospices – a blog post from 2015 with some great examples.

What do you think?

How has your organisation approached crisis comms? Are there situations where you purposefully haven’t used social media? How do you make decisions about what to do? Who decides?

Please do share in the comments. I’d particularly like feedback on the PDF questions – are they useful / what’s missing?

Can I help you?

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

 

 

With thanks to Sue Ryder, St Giles Hospice, St Wilfrid’s Hospice and St Ann’s Hospice who shared their experiences as part of research for the workshop / blog.

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Join these digital leaders

Child's drawing: stick people. One says "I've had an idea". The other says "I have too". Both have lightbulbs above their heads!

Digital teams going the extra mile to share their knowledge.

I love our sector. We do so well to connect and learn from each other. From attending meet-ups, mentoring and shadowing, or learning from hashtags or other people’s top takeaways from events, there are lots of free ways we can share and learn from each other.

Must reads

One of my go-to sources of knowledge and inspiration are the hubs of big charity digital teams. These include:

I regularly include their posts and links in my monthly round-ups as they are so useful. As well as an excuse to peep in at the window of these big charities, the shared thinking and best practice is good food for thought for us all. Posts can prompt discussion, collaboration and new ideas.

There are quite a lot of councils and other public sector blogs from digital teams around too. For example:

Benefits to the team

Although producing the posts and curating the accounts can be time-consuming, the task brings other benefits.

  • Team building – done collaboratively, creating posts about projects can help the team to reflect and review the work they are doing. In busy teams, it is easy to move on to the next task, project, crisis with no time to review or think about how to share successes, challenges or failure with others. Creating a culture of review and sharing can help to give space for reflection and improvement.
  • Knowledge sharing and skills development – if members of the team read each other’s posts, it can help them to learn from each other and appreciate stresses and demands. This can drive better future projects.
  • Internal comms – content can help non-digital internal colleagues to understand the processes and thinking behind digital projects. If writing for a non-digital audience, it can be good practice for team members to be more careful about the terminology used in their posts, cutting out the jargon too. Posts can be repurposed for internal channels.
  • Profile raising – well-shared posts can help to raise the profile of the digital teams, helping with future recruitment. Who wouldn’t want to work in a team doing cutting-edge work?
  • Creativity – a blog gives the freedom to be creative, finding different ways to share knowledge. It feels nice to do the thinking around a topic, write it up (or draw pictures or make a video) and share it. A blog can be colourful and fun showing the personality of the writer and team. And no-one gets bored of seeing photos of post-its (do they?).

colourful post-its used in content planning

So do follow / subscribe to these accounts.

Better still, start your own team’s blog to share your processes, successes and failures. We can all learn from them.

Your top tips

Are there other blogs or Twitter feeds run by digital teams you’d recommend? Have you contributed to your team blog? Any top tips for making it work? Do you have a content calendar or a blog owner who manages / edits it?

Please share in the comments.

 

<Headline image drawn by my son, found on my desk recently!>

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Brathay Trust: a lesson in crisis comms

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

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

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

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

Brathay's website showing four news stories

The first day

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

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

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

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

How we worked together

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

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

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

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

Brathay - one of the total updates on Twitter

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

#FinishforMatt

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

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

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

Getting the tone right

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

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

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

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

Tweet thanking supporter for walking the 3.7 for Matt

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

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

Keeping up

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

Building new relationships

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

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

Brathay graphic explaining what they do

Matt’s legacy

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

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

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

10 top tips for responding to a crisis

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

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

Further reading about crisis comms

Your top tips

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

Can I help you?

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

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Using digital to bring your impact to life

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

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

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

Why communicate impact?

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

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

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

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

Impact reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online impact reports

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot of live data - pie charts and maps

Different types of reports

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

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

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

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

Using the content from your report

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

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

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

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

infographic from Bowel Cancer UK

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

Creative ways to communicate impact

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

Maps / infographics / emojis / images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curation and takeovers

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

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

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

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

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

Storytelling

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

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

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

Still from Foodbank video

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

Handwritten note of thanks to Colchester Foodbank

These stories are authentic and engaging.

Video

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

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

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

Find a hook

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

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

Top tips

Spring clean your impact content today:

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

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

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

Seen any great examples?

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

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

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

Can I help?

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

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

Digital advent calendars 2017

Here’s some festive cheer – the pick of this year’s digital advent calendars from charities, museums, heritage organisations, councils and other nonprofits.

MAA snowball

Some are using the opportunity to share gems from their archives or highlights from the year. Some use it for fundraising or to share important messages. Others set challenges, run competitions or just share lovely pictures. Some organisations are spreading their content over a more manageable 12 days.

Particular highlights

London Community Foundation

London Community Foundation are running a ’12 days of Christmas of small charities making a big difference across London’. Stories are released on their blog. On day 2 we meet Brixton-based Mosaic Clubhouse.

Gold star: This is a great way to highlight partners or projects.

Kindness Calendar

Action for Happiness’s Kindness Calendar. Each day has an act which anyone can do with the tag line ‘let’s spread more kindness this festive season’. An action is tweeted each day resulting in much interaction.

Gold star: Simple actions everyone can do.

Blurt's 30 day challenge to bring calmness to the festive period

The Blurt Foundation are running a #BlurtMerryCalmness challenge on Instagram and Twitter with the aim of ‘adding some calm to the festive fuss’. Each day has a theme and you are invited to build a pause, some joy and play into the specified days, interpreted as you like. People are sharing images which illustrate what they did (1500 on Instagram, 5 days in).

Gold star: Brilliantly focused challenge but with enough room in it for people to join in how they want. Very shareable with lovely graphics and tone of voice.

RI: David Attenborough with minor birds from 1973

Royal Institution’s archive films from their Christmas lectures. Day 1 is a dashing young David Attenborough from 1973. You can subscribe to the calendar to get instalments via email.

Gold star: Great use of a very rich archive.

National Library of Scotland's penguin adventures

National Library of Scotland are bringing their collection to life through the adventures of penguins #FlurryandFloe. Each day, now that they have their library cards, we see them on tour round the library seeing items from the collection. Where will they go next, what will they see?!

Gold star: Creative and cute! Written with humour and images to match. Festive joy.

More calendars

Want more? Here’s the full storify of digital advent calendars 2017, packed with great festive comms.

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

 

See also: Nonprofit digital advent calendars – a round-up of tips and examples

 

#GivingTuesday 2017

Now in its fourth year in the UK, #GivingTuesday is a chance for charities large and small to ask, thank and share news of the difference they make. It is the antidote to #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday (all of which seem to last much longer than a single day).

Here are some great Twitter examples from this year’s day.

BT image from the London BT Tower scrolling #GivingTuesday video

Short and simple

#GivingTuesday is a hugely busy hashtag (trending across the world on the day) so there is a lot of competition. On all channels, a simple, eye-catching ask stands out.

The standard digital fundraising rules apply – cater to short attention spans, make donating time or money easy to do and pleasurable and give a reward.

Dogs Trust - 4 ways to give + silly dog video

This tweet from Dogs Trust ticks all the boxes. It clearly lists four ways to give support, it uses eye-catching emojis and readable / edited bit.ly links plus a bonus video of a dog rolling in the grass!

"It’s #givingtuesday at LSE! We have four ways in which you can give."

Similarly, LSE student volunteer centre shared four images on Twitter along with four actions.

  • Independent Age clearly listed their text giving options
  • Crisis showed what someone who attends Crisis at Christmas receives
  • Lumos produced a simple animation of five words which explain what they do
  • Refuge were asking people to buy a Christmas dinner parcel for £5
  • Breakfast in a Bag simply asked for £3 donations.

Giving thanks

#GivingTuesday is as much a chance to say thank you as it is to ask. It is an opportunity to celebrate all your amazing fundraisers, donors, campaigners and volunteers. Personal thanks or general thanks work well.

Help for Heroes thank you video

Help for Heroes produced this lovely video to thank their fundraisers, volunteers, supporters and partners. It means more as it is a face-to-face thanks from the people whose lives have been helped by the charity.

The British Heart Foundation are expert producers of thank you gifs and images. Their feed is full of great thank you images like this one.

Marie Curie's hand drawn thanks for supporter Michelle

Marie Curie produced hand-drawn doodles for a selection of their supporters to say thank you.

There are lots more examples of how large and small charities used #GivingTuesday to say thank you (ZurichVolSec)

Taking full advantage

For one day only, Facebook matched donations made via their native giving tool (not those made by clicking a donation button on the platform which links elsewhere).

This tweet from Winston’s Wish explains the ask. A link to the Facebook page would have helped to encourage supporters to shift platform.

Winston's Wish FB ask

Selected Big Give charities are part of their Christmas Challenge which launched at midday on #GivingTuesday. The 500 organisations lucky enough to be included are benefitting from doubled-donations to their listed projects. In the first five minutes, half a million pounds were raised!

ChildhoodTrust - Cats Vs Kids campaign

Eye-catching campaigns like Cats Vs Kids from The Childhood Trust, aim to inspire new supporters as well as current ones through #GivingTuesday and the #ChristmasChallenge17.

CAF were offering to add a bonus £100 to a £10 donation for individuals opening a new account before 30 November.

Action on Hearing Loss Scotland devoted the whole day to share stories of amazing fundraisers, achievements, future events and their #earringforhearing campaign.

Using targets

The Myton Hospices

The Myton Hospices were aiming for a Christmas miracle, raising £3220 in 24 hours, enough to pay for an inpatient bed for one week. Through persistent tweeting, a thunderclap and rallying of their supporters, they smashed their target! Throughout the day, they updated supporters with a total. (Read more about their campaign in my JustGiving post on #GivingTuesday highlights.)

Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust‘s campaign aimed to raise enough money to plant 100 trees.

(NB Toilet Twinning are really good at sharing regular News Flush updates with a running total on World Toilet Day, pinning the latest total as a top tweet on the day.)

Being creative

#GivingTuesday is a great opportunity to break all the rules, produce something special and have fun.

Southmead Hospital Charity video - Giving Back this #GivingTuesday

Southmead Hospital Charity produced a charming video which explained how a £5 donation would help.

Didn’t get involved this year?

UK Fundraising reported that almost 2000 partner charities and businesses joined in with #GivingTuesday this year. CAF shared stats on the reach of the day, including an impressive 383million impressions on Twitter. And CAF’s press release said that the hashtag was trending on Twitter in the UK from 8.30am to 5.30pm. Blackbaud shared data too including that 26% of online donations were made via mobile.

The #GivingTuesday hashtag was used in over 150 countries on the day.

If you didn’t get involved this year, make sure it is on your calendar for 2018 – 27 November. And think about how you can make your comms stand out from the crowd.

What did you spot?

Share your favourite #GivingTuesday examples from Twitter or other channels here. I’d love to see them.

I also shared my top three highlights from the day in this JustGiving post.

It’s interesting to see how the comms have evolved since #GivingTuesday launched in the UK in 2014. Here’s my storify with examples from the first year.

 

See also: 10 tips for great online legacy fundraising

WrapUp London

WrapUp London, now in its seventh year, is a call to action. It invites Londoners to clear out their old coats, take them to drop off points from where they will be sorted and distributed to partner charities who work with homeless people, older people, refugees and women’s refuges. This year I volunteered for two out of the three drop off days at Liverpool Street Station. It was tiring but brilliant work. Usually I work at home, mostly liaising with colleagues and clients by phone or email. This was a chance to talk to people face-to-face and be in the thick of something brilliant.

On Tuesday we filled 49 giant sacks with donations. Each sack took between 10-20 coats. Today we filled 89, plus two suitcases! In total the good people of Liverpool Street and Broadgate donated men’s, women’s and children’s coats filling 154 sacks over the three days.

View into Liverpool Street Underground Station from upper concourse

Here’s why it works.

Clear branding and marketing

Wrap Up London – the name is beautifully clear, strong and emotive.

Clever marketing used red coats on London prominent statues which was eye-catching and simple. Amy Winehouse’s statue in Camden wore a red coat and branding on the banners included Nelson in a dashing red puffer jacket.

Of course, there were still people who hadn’t heard of the campaign (and those who weren’t interested) despite awareness raising in the run up to the collection days on social media and leafleting. But there were enough that did and many who had been looking out for the campaign after they had donated in 2016.

Clear action

Get rid of your old coat and it will be given directly to someone who needs it.

This simple transaction is motivating. It helps the donor to clear something they don’t want any more and they can imagine the person who might benefit from it instead. It is a simple ‘from me to you’ without any cost to the donor and a streamlined, well organised process to drive it.

Most people have an old coat somewhere – maybe a child’s coat grown out of or an impulse buy. There are some who are moved on the day to donate. One woman actually took her coat off and gave it to us (and then came back to retrieve her train ticket from its pocket!)

However, although it is a simple ask, the process of donating for most isn’t without effort. It will be time-consuming to find the coats, put them in a strong bag and it will take effort to remember to pick them up on the way in to work, then lug them on a squashed-in commute, and potentially modify their journey to pass by a drop-off point. It is precisely all this effort which makes it meaningful.

Some people go the extra mile. For example, some had specifically washed or dry cleaned their coats before handing them over. Many gave large donations of heavy and bulky items, some delivered them in suitcases which they then took onwards, empty. There were some people who bought donations every day. Some had travelled a long way or in difficult circumstances (including several people on crutches).  The highlight of my Wednesday was the stars from Spitalfields City Farm who delivered several bin bags and boxes of coats via three wheelbarrows which they’d pushed all the way from the other side of Brick Lane!

What struck me most was the urge people had to donate, to do something positive, something lots of other people were doing at the same time.  The kindness and enthusiasm was reassuring and wonderful.

Volume

This is a London-wide event, now firmly in the calendar. There are six tube collection points (at the major train stations – London Bridge, King’s Cross, Waterloo, Victoria, Liverpool Street plus Canary Wharf – with thousands of people passing through) open for three days, all staffed by volunteers plus drop-off points at Safestores for longer.

Many of the people donating today came with bin bags full of coats which were a collective donation from their office. It was something they could do together as no cost.

Thanks and encouragement

Donors of course felt good about what they had done. The transactional process of handing over a bag was met with smiles, thank you’s, chat, selfies and a cool sticker. Sometimes it was quick as people were rushing off to work or to get a train. Other times people stayed to talk.

People were also being thanked on social media by individual volunteers and @WrapUpLondon using #WrapUpLondon and #HandsOnHeroes. The energy of the campaign was infectious especially through the three days of the tube collection.

I wrapped up London stickers

It was brilliant. I thoroughly recommend volunteering next year if you get a chance (you can volunteer from 7-9 so still get to work on time) or taking part in other similar events. I can’t wait to hear how many sacks each of the locations collected and whether donations beat last year’s total and the difference they make.

In these miserable times, it was wonderful to see kindness and generosity first-hand and to see people doing something practical to help others.

Do can do something positive

You can still get involved – donation points are open until 24 November or you can text donations to 70070.

See also: WrapUp Manchester which happened at the same time. Here is a Moment from their day 2.

Think about how you could apply these principles to your fundraising or campaign.

If you want to galvanise collective giving, why not run a reverse advent calendar in the run up to Christmas.