Coronavirus comms – planning ahead

As we move into a more widespread experience of the virus, our comms will change. So far, we have been in a full-on crisis planning stage. We have been mobilising to work from home, digitising our services, getting ready to do the work which is needed, fundraising and campaigning under #EveryDayCounts.

Now, the situation will change as we hit the peak with more cases. More of us will get ill, know someone who is ill or who has died. At the same time, we will be feeling the impact of increased financial and practical pressures individually and on our organisations.

How and what we communicate on behalf of our organisations and between ourselves will change. The leadership team should be setting the tone and framework for this. Work with them to plan now what this might look like for your organisation.

Graphic of brightly coloured houses

Here are some resources and thoughts which might help you to plan for this stage. Effectively we are all working through a constant crisis situation.

External comms about your work

What you say about your organisation at this time, clearly depends on the work you are doing. But your comms need to be agile. The situation is changing rapidly. The priorities for your organisation and your audience have completely changed and will continue to do so. What are you able to predict with confidence and what scenarios are likely to be ahead?

Is your comms process working in the current situation? If not, what needs to change to streamline publishing? For example, who is deciding on and approving messaging? Where are the bottlenecks and can these be removed? Who is identifying new content you need to create to cover subjects people need to know about? Are you able to turn this round quickly but to the same quality standards?

Your audience is likely to be flat-out and also needing to switch off. So, the volume of your comms, the range of topics you are covering and the channels you may use, will be different. Streamline what you are doing as much as possible so you are sharing the same messages across the channels you are using.

Do you have time to respond to people’s comments and questions via social media? People may be lonely / bored / frightened and more likely to reach out this way, than before. Are you set up to deal with this type of ‘customer service’? Who do you priorise if you have limited time? It can be helpful to have a playlist of common responses and links which you edit as needed.

Keep one place updated as your primary information source. Many organisations now have a coronavirus section on their websites where they share resources and information about their services. Create a go-to place if you haven’t already.

What does your content mix look like? Is it appropriate to share good news, fun stories or reassuring content? People will need cheering up. Think about your tone of voice. Make sure what you are sharing is appropriate for the general mood / news.

Think about your language. How you talk about the virus and its impact on your beneficiaries and organisation will change. Write and share a mini styleguide to include standard phrases which you use, as well as ones to avoid. This post by Ella Saltmarshe about how language changes through a crisis and how to frame your comms is useful. 8 tips for framing covid19. And the NHS styleguide now has a coronavirus entry.

Beware of sharing misinformation or yesterday’s news. Things are changing rapidly. Only share current and official sources of information.

Don’t forget about accessibility during this time. Everyone needs to be able to access important information. For example, don’t share images of text, gifs of videos without text descriptions and / or links to an html version. Use subtitles on videos.

Scheduling messages may be risky at the moment. We just don’t know what is ahead.

Comms about your people

How is your comms set up to deal with bad news about colleagues, volunteers or the people you work?

For individual cases

  • How will you receive the news? Are you checking in with each other? Do you have contact details for next of kin?
  • How will you tell people the news internally? Who will do this?
  • Are there some people you might need to share the news about publicly, such as patrons, founders or trustees? If so, do you have a template for biographies or tributes? Do you have appropriate photos you can use?
  • Do you have ways that people can come together online to share their stories and memories of that person? For example, through a hashtag or in-memory board? How will you curate or share these with the person’s loved ones?
  • In the absence of funerals and with so many people working from home, not seeing each other, the usual ways of coming together to grieve are not possible. What can you do to help people mourn within your organisation?

For multiple cases

  • How will you keep track of people within your network who have died? Will you manage a list? Who will look after this? How might you need to use this now and later?

Tone of voice

What is your internal and external tone of voice talking about death? Do you use euphemisms like ‘passed away’? Or talk in a more matter of fact way? It is a good time now to work this out if you haven’t already. The NHS health writing style guide has just added an entry to clarify how they write about death and dying. They use direct language.

Internal comms

What systems do you need to put in place to help people process bad news? This can be really hard especially when everyone is working remotely. Good internal comms is key.

Regularly review whether your internal channels are working well. Is everyone engaged? Are your systems making things easier or adding more stress?

How can you add some light relief? I have seen people starting their team conference calls with a quiz or tours round their homes or with a fancy dress theme (such as a hat). Other people bring their children or pets on the calls to say hi.

Useful resources about mental health

Look after yourself and your colleagues. This thread from Matthew Sherrington about managing your team through a crisis – organising, communicating, taking care of yourself and others, is full of useful tips.

Here are some other useful links.

Useful resources about grief and bereavement

Other resources

Have you read anything else useful I should add here? Or seen examples? Or got tips. Please add in the comments or let me know.

See also: Coronavirus comms for charities.

Look after yourselves please. And wash you hands.

Coronavirus comms for charities

Updated: 6 April (new: Charity So White report, write your own coronavirus style guide, how to communicate with furloughed staff).

Since I wrote this post on 3 March, everything has moved on. Coronavirus is dominating world news and the way we live and work has completely changed. I have been adding new useful resources as well as removing ones which are no longer relevant. I have kept the examples of charity comms for reference.

Whatever your size of organisation or purpose, you will be meeting to plan how you’ll respond internally and externally. There is lots of noise and misinformation about the spread of the virus with rumours and blame escalating. What are you doing to reassure your beneficiaries and keep your staff safe?

illustration of lots of people moving around a big space - maybe on escalators

Here are some useful links and good reads to help you manage your own charity’s response.

Writing about Covid19 for beneficiaries

Information about the virus is changing all the time. Keep an eye on official advice which is being updated on a daily basis and share / incorporate it into your comms:

Full Fact are working hard to fact-check lots of the information circulating. Are there any misleading memes or discussions circulating related to your audience or cause? It’s worth checking FF’s website to see.

Knowing what and when to communicate about coronavirus depends on what type of organisation you are.

If you are a health charity, one working with older people or one with public-access buildings, you may be sharing updates, especially if you are getting lots of helpline calls or forum discussions about risk. As there is so much misinformation circulating, this is your chance to be the go-to authority on the subject for people with specific needs and spreading good advice.

Dan Slee says that “we have all become public health communicators whether we like it or not”. In his post (The basics of communicating the coronavirus), he shares lots of useful tips about making sure your information is factual and shareable. And also notes that your comms need to go where the people are as rumour and misinformation circulate (see Enlist a team to play whack-a-mole with online rumour and How covid is playing out in Facebook groups).

Examples

Here are some examples of information charities have created for the people they represent:

Comms tips

Think accessibility – not everyone can read the text on an image. If you are sharing images with text on via social media, include a link to a web page where the same information can be read and/or repeat the text in your post. I have seen so many covid statements which are just images of text with no link (and probably no alt text). See more from @CovidAccessInfo (new account set up on 19/3).

Make information easy to find. Pin your tweets. Use hashtags (#covid19UK / #coronavirus etc). Clearly layout information so it is easy to read. Add the story to your homepage.

Tweet from Bloodwise UK. Very clear layout. Hashtags and signposting to sources of help.

Only ever link to one page which you are keeping up to date. As the situation develops you don’t want people to be seeing old advice. They may be seeing old posts or looking at old emails but at least you’ll know they can click through for current information. Avoid PDFs for the same reason.

Clearly indicate information you have added or changed. You might do this at the top of your web page or by highlighting what has been added. See this example from Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

Even if you don’t have infomation you have produced yourself, at this stage it is probably a good idea to have a page about coronavirus on your website which links to the key sources of information and something about the services you offer if there are changes to them. A quick random search found lots of charity websites showing no covid results in their searches.

Website search results: says no items found

Don’t include information about the current number of cases or deaths. This instantly dates your information and shows that it is not up-to-date.

As the situation develops, you may need to use more effective and urgent ways to communicate your messages. Plan ahead now. Are you able to use video or audio or other methods to respond to a crisis comms situation? Might you need to devote your entire homepage to the story? Can you send out mass emails to your stakeholders? Are your crisis comms processes up-to-date? See this thread from Gemma Pettman sharing crisis comms planning tips.

Check your scheduled messages. For example, do you have messages scheduled which are promoting events which are likely to be cancelled? Be aware that the situation could change over the coming days / weeks.

Start planning ahead. We are now moving from the crisis planning stage into a more widespread experience of the virus. This means that your comms needs to be less about explaining the virus and how to respond to the changes we are all making. The next comms stage is describing our ‘new normal’ of operating and communicating about ill or dying colleagues, volunteers and stakeholders. See Coronavirus comms – planning ahead.

New: Think about your language. How you talk about the virus and its impact on your beneficiaries and organisation will change. Write and share a mini styleguide to include standard phrases which you use, as well as ones to avoid. This post about how language changes through a crisis and how to frame your comms is useful. 8 tips for framing covid19 – Ella Saltmarshe.

Running your organisation

Internally you will be looking at the impact of a wider spread of the virus and what this might mean for how you operate.

Here’s some of the current advice:

New: Charity So White have written a position paper sharing the ways coronavirus can impact BAME communities disproportionately. It calls on charities to consider that in their response and includes five key principles to guide them.

It’s useful to see other organisations’ internal plans if you need to write one yourself. Some have shared theirs publicly:

Reassuring staff and volunteers that you are prepared is key. Internal comms must play a vital role. What internal comms systems do you use? Do they work to reach everyone? There is some good advice in this post by Rachel Miller of All Things IC.

New: Rachel has also written this. How to communicate with furloughed colleagues.

What about your events or meetings? Many have been cancelled / postponed or changed to online. Here’s how Bond announced the cancellation of their annual conference.

Digital service delivery

What does the situation mean for the services you run and the support people in your community might need? What might you need to do more of or change?

For example, can you move face-to-face services , online? What different services could you offer to expand to support people through a scary and challenging time? Are you able to run digital events or make fun content to entertain?

Community response

Here are some examples of community and charity-run services:

Community Action Response - 5 steps

If you are a community volunteering charity, how are you keeping volunteers in touch with how they might be needed? And reassuring them about measures you’ll be taking to protect them?

Virtual working

More people are switching to virtual working as a way to reduce risk. It can be a real shift for an organisation if you are not used to working like this. Here are some useful links:

Fundraising

Fundraising is being hit hard.

The London Marathon has been postponed until October (announcement 5pm Friday 13th March). Read this thread by Russell Benson with great tips and alternative options for events fundraisers if you haven’t already. Here are a few examples from charities responding to the news in case you want some ideas.

Sarah Goddard is building a collection of resources for the fundraising sector including template appeal letters for hospices and smaller arts organisation from Mark Phillips.

Charities are launching appeals:

  • This from Kemp Hospice was released very early on.
  • Asthma UK have added a donation ask at the end of their information page.
  • Age UK Camden have put out an appeal to help them to support ‘an increasing number of anxious older people who are reaching out to us for help’.
  • FareShare – Help us get food to vulnerable people. Donate online or ‘text MEAL 10 to 70480 to give £10’.
  • New: JustGiving have shared some of the campaigns on their site.
Image from FareShare's homepage with their covid19 appeal

Other good reads / useful links

Archive:

Examples of warmer comms from week 2/3 of the outbreak:

Have you read anything else useful I should add here? Or seen examples? Let me know. I’ll add more useful links here as I find them.

Thanks to Charity Digital who published a version of this post on 10 March.

Good behaviour on social media

Sticker on a bus stop says 'Be Kind'

The third #ReclaimSocial day is fast approaching (6 February). The day is an opportunity to flood social media with positivity by sharing good news stories and celebrating heroes of positivity. Get involved if you can. The day aims to kickstart a rebalancing of the scales of hate and bad behaviour on social media.

We all have a role to play in demonstrating good behaviour every day. Both personally and from any corporate accounts we manage. Here are five examples of social media etiquette to generate a culture of positive connections (mostly relating to Twitter).

You might do all of these already. In which case, you are a hero of positivity!

Acknowledge when you have seen something

If you have paused to look at someone’s photo or thread or story – why not say something? Tell them that you have seen what they have done and what it meant to you.

You don’t have to write a pithy comment. A ‘thanks for sharing’ or ‘lovely photo’ or a thumbs up, is easy to do. We all need to feel seen.

If no one comments or interacts, we might not bother to post something similar again. What’s the point if it didn’t connect?

A like is ok but is a very passive interaction. Take 10 seconds to say something nice. Share the love.

Recognise when someone has interacted with you

I see this all the time on charity accounts. An organisation might ask a friendly open question in order to generate some user-generated content and to be fun on a Monday morning…. And then not respond to any of the responses.

So, all the people who have bothered to share a photo of their muddy run or say that they have spotted one of the campaign posters on the tube, are left hanging. Maybe they won’t interact in this positive way again? Maybe they think less of the charity?

Social media / comms teams can be spread very thinly and don’t have time to respond to large number of comments. But building connections and a community of supporters is very important.

If you don’t have time to respond to the comments, don’t ask a question.

If you do have time, acknowledge someone’s action. Being warm, open and inclusive may encourage other people to comment in future.

I think this is particularly important for member organisations and those which are looking for people to share their experiences. For example, National Trust are really good at chatting. This example from Transport for All asks people to fill in a survey about problems with dockless bikes but hasn’t responded to replies.

Say please and thank you

Remember when people used to say ‘Please RT’ in their tweets? There was evidence that posts with this in, were more frequently shared. Was it the power of the please or a polite ask that made the difference?

Do you say thank you when people RT something of yours with a comment?

Be social on social media

Back in the day, people used to share regular #FollowFriday recommendations of @people they liked on Twitter. It was a bit annoying but mostly nice. People also used to welcome new followers. Or send a welcome DM to say a personal hello (or an annoying auto one).

It might have gone out of fashion to do these things. People might also have stopped for a quick hello or a chat. It was nice. It was social.

We should still do this. Respond to questions. Join in. Say something positive. Take a look at Chloe Stables and Kristiana Wrixon who are both great at asking questions and getting responses.

Share good stuff

Interaction doesn’t have to be around a heated debate or responding to a negative piece of news or mass RIPing someone who has died.

Be generous with your knowledge and ideas. Share stuff that you love and makes you smile.

And switch off

As charities, prolifically using social media as part of our work, we may see examples of trolling or negative behaviour on a daily basis. These might appear as negative comments under our posts, hate stories directed at our organisation or projects, or trolling of staff or corporate accounts.

These actions are draining, frightening and depressing to deal with.

Sometimes it is best to just switch off. And do something else instead.

Your tips

What are your top tips for good behaviour or encouraging a culture of positivity? I’d love to hear them.

Tips about making the social media you consume, positive

#YouMadeItHappen 2019

Did you join in with the second #YouMadeItHappen day? Here’s a round-up of the day and insights it gives into impact comms.

#YouMadeItHappen Friday 11 October - NCVO's graphic, with photos from community groups.

Highlights

Charities used a mix of storytelling, graphics showing impact data, short videos showing projects and events as well as simple thank you messages. I made a Moment of some of the tweets shared on the day.

Here are some highlights:

  • Dogs Trust shared a fun video with the text saying ‘thank you for everything you do to keep dog’s tails wagging’. With 14 replies, almost 1k likes and 17.3k views, it looks like it was the YMIH tweet with the highest engagement.
  • I like the clear graphics used in this six-tweet thread by Macmillan Cancer. It could have used emojis or better spacing in the text of the tweets to make them easier to read. A link and / or call to action could have prompted further engagement.
  • The Stroke Association created a thread of three tweets. The first was a video of the team saying thank you, second an animation of impact data and third, an animation of fundraising supporter statistics.
  • Bowel Cancer UK shared a 28 second video which got 600+ views on both Instagram and Twitter. It ends with the powerful words ‘You’re helping us save lives everyday’.

Hashtag overload

The hashtag was trending 12th in the UK during the day. A quick spot-check of 20 large and 20 small charities on Twitter, chosen at random, found that only a few joined in with the hashtag. Just 30% of the large charities in my sample and only one (5%) of the smaller ones took part.

The day coincided with a busy hashtag time. Many of those in the sample who didn’t join in, were tweeting on the day with #DayOfTheGirl, #ComingOutDay content or finishing off #HospiceCareWeek or #BabyLossAwarenessWeek or taking part in #BlackHistoryMonth, their own campaign hashtags or just sharing #FridayFeelings!

#YouMadeItHappen day was at the end of a huge week of awareness raising (including #WorldMentalHealthDay, #WorldHomelessDay and #ChallengePoverty week in Scotland). Maybe the day would have had more reach during a quieter time?

Other channels

Although #YouMadeItHappen was primarily intended to be a Twitter-based, it was also across other channels.

For example, an Instagram search found a total of 2443 posts using #YouMadeItHappen (though only some of these were sent on 11 October). A few had really good engagement such as this brightly coloured thank you graphic from The Scouts which did better than its Twitter YMIH photo.

Colourful graphic from Scout - thank you to all of our volunteers. 1144 likes

For some charities the same content did much better on Facebook than on Twitter. For example NRAS’ thank you video from the fundraising team got 1k views on Facebook but 234 on Twitter.

Getting the most out of impact comms

#YouMadeItHappen day is a chance to tell people about all the amazing work you have done, to celebrate supporters and bring life to the impact all this has had. It can be hard to know how to do this effectively.

Making a thank you video is lovely and sharing data is great, but how do you avoid the ‘so what’ factor? How do you ensure people are going to see what you have planned for the day? And then engage with it? Here are some thoughts.

Grab and keep attention

Are your messages eye-catching or colourful or different to your usual style to make people pause to look at them? Are they clear?

Can you use emojis or line spacing to make it easy to digest the information? The Stroke Association tweet did this well.

Present data clearly and limit the amount you are giving. A few juicy stats can work better than a whole impact report. Posts on Instagram seemed to do this better than many on Twitter.

screenshot of several posts from instagram. Most share stats in a clear and simple way.

Some charities primed their audience that they were going to fill the day with messages about. For example, Carers Trust shared this lovely animation at the start of the day.

Make it meaningful

Do your messages give your audience a reward or a warm feeling or a closer connection to the difference you have made? This is easier if you have cute cats and dogs or a rare butterfly to share. But everyone can use storytelling and photography, like this from Craftspace.

Very few charities were sharing stories from the people they helped. I liked this video from Epilepsy Action sharing thanks from four people who have been helped by the charity.

What are the facts or insights which are meaningful to your supporters? You don’t have to tell them everything in one go. Do these come from data or individual stories? Whose voice do they want to hear? What will they watch until the end?

What will inspire people to reply? The number of replies can be a good indication you have got it right. It can show that people feel like you are talking to them and feel like they WERE part of the impact you are sharing. Have you crafted your message so people can respond? Try coming up with a response yourself to check. Maybe you could include a question in your YMIH messaging. Are you able to respond to any comments to further build connections?

Make it easy for people to do more

Include an action. I saw very few tweets which included a link for more information. The point of the day isn’t about asking for donations or for more people to volunteer. But if you are sharing data about your impact or stories about the difference you make, make it easy for people to find out more by including a link. Make sure that this page is working harder than just listing all your annual reports to download.

Top tips

  • Post first-thing in the morning to grab the attention of the commuter or people starting work (depending on your audience).
  • Include a link to a webpage with data about impact if you can. (See this post by Richard Berks with examples of how charities show their achievements.)
  • Include alt text / descriptions for your images, especially for information-giving graphics. If the information is too complex to describe in alt text, include a link to a page where this information is available. Think about the accessibility of your comms.
  • Use threads to connect information on Twitter. Seeing messages connected as a thread makes them easier to interact with.
  • Be creative! Have fun with how you can use the day to celebrate supporters and bring your work to life.

What are your top tips? I’d love to hear your experience of the day and how you crafted your comms.

Every day is YMIH day!

Why wait until next year to share stories about impact?! How often do you communicate your impact? Or share detail of your work? Do your supporters know about your achievements or highlights?

See Using digital to bring your impact to life.

More about YMIH day

Can I help you?

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

Digital round-up – September 2019

Highlights this month: a lesson in crisis comms from RNLI, climate change comms, diversity in the sector, guide to wellbeing.

It’s overwhelming to try and keep up at the moment. Aside from UK and world news, this is a busy time of year for awareness days and campaign launches. Here’s a small snapshot of some of the best charity content and reads from this month and some from August too.

two men in a dark room photograph some neon artwork on a phone. pink and purple colours

How to use this round-up: Pick and choose links to read, or open in new tabs for later. Or bookmark this post. Even better, subscribe and get future round-ups direct to your inbox.

Content

Big campaigns

screenshot of Samuel L Jackson's ARUK film. He holds an orange.

Creative content

Reactive content

Celebrity endorsement of the month: The Hoff visits RNLI Penarth.

'we support the climate strike' drawing on office window. By Salford CVS

Did your organisation do anything to join in with the #GlobalClimateStrike either by joining a strike or sharing messages of solidarity or making statement about your own organisation’s commitment to addressing climate change? On a day where there was a global focus on the issues, it was good to see some (mostly environmental charities) pulling out all the stops. It was disappointing to see so many others saying nothing. Here are some examples of charities who joined in with the #GlobalClimateStrike.

Comms

It can be stressful and relentless being on the comms frontline. Your work is key to building and protecting your organisation’s reputation and impact, while also battling internal pressures. This month, Charity Comms launched A wellbeing guide for comms professionals authored by Kirsty Marrins with contributions from others sharing case studies and tips. It aims to help build resilience and look after mental health. Do have a read if you haven’t seen it already.

RNLI changed their homepage to include a striking image from one of their overseas projects

This month, RNLI faced a backlash then a rush of support, following a story profiling their overseas work. Their messaging on Twitter was an example of patience and warmth. The volume of incoming comments was relentless through the week. They responded by writing personal messages to thousands of people. Their initial tweet has been liked 44.8k times.

I wrote a short thread through the first day as the situation developed including tweets of support from other charities. Dan Slee blogged with more examples and UK Fundraising showed some of the ways people challenged the press story.

What was striking about RNLI’s response was that they took ownership of the situation and proudly communicated their values and mission. For example they changed the image on their homepage (see above) and shared beautiful images from their overseas projects on social media. They also did lots to connect with new and established supporters (see this tweet from Shappi Khorsandi, a thank you email and a thank you video from Dave at Poole Lifeboat Centre).

Would you be ready to respond to a crisis comms situation?

Also this month:

Digital – strategy, design, culture

CCDH advice - don't feed the trolls - graphic with 5 steps. 1=don't engage, 2=don't post you are being targetted, 3=if unlawful, record, report and get help, 4=block trolls, 5=don't let it get to you)

Fundraising

Screenshot from Age UK's website. Older man sits alone. White writing on a purple (cadbury coloured) background say Cadbury are joining Age UK to fight loneliness

People and organisations

There has been lots shared this month about representation in the sector. Here’s a selection of useful reads and resources

Also this month:

And finally….

Well done for getting to the end! Here’s some fun stuff.

Your recommendations and feedback

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

Could you also tell me if these round-ups are useful. It takes quite a long time to put them together. How do you use the round-ups? Please share any feedback. Thanks!

Can I help you?

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

——

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

Charities joining in with the #GlobalClimateStrike

Today’s #GlobalClimateStrike is likely to be the biggest ever with adults showing solidarity with striking students. Millions of people are taking to the streets around the world. #ClimateStrike, #SchoolsStrike4Climate and #ClimateAction are all currently trending. According to The Guardian yesterday, a public poll found that the Climate crisis is seen as ‘most important issue’. The eight-country poll showed that people view the climate crisis as priority over migration and terrorism. But does the charity sector reflect this?

'we support the climate strike' drawing on office window. By Salford CVS

Even if it’s not your cause, this is a global day of activism about something that will have impact on us all. People will be talking about the issues. How is the sector seeing this as an opportunity to take collective action?

Striking

Charities with an environmental focus are of course shouting about it from the rooftops, encouraging staff and supporters to join in. For example:

Some other organisations are publicly saying how and why they are joining in with the march:

For many it will not be possible to join in with a strike. There is also a way to join in the #DigitalClimateStrike to show solidarity. I’ve seen a good number of agencies and individuals doing this, but no charity websites.

The examples above are primarily from organisations whose remit is connected to climate change. They will of course be joining in.

Other ways to join in

What if it is not your remit? Most organisations can’t stop their everyday work to join a strike. Most will also not want to change their homepages or social media feeds to distract from their own work.

But if on the biggest day of protest about the environment, you are not joining in with the conversation, what does that say? If you are not talking about what you are doing, maybe people will assume you are doing nothing? And in a culture when we need to build trust, connect with our audiences and collectively take action, this is important.

This is an opportunity to show that we care about the same things as our audiences / beneficiaries, especially if they are primarily young people (see this example from YoungScot).

So, use the day (and beyond) to say what you are doing for example to reduce waste or energy use. Talk about some of the changes you have made to the way you work and travel. Talk about what you plan to do (for example, VONNE announced that their annual conference will focus on climate change. And Just For Kids Law had a lunchtime session talking about climate change). Talk about the impact that climate change is, or could have, on the people you represent (see Oxfam’s #WhoTakesTheHeat series).

If the reason your organisation is not doing anything today is because climate change is not on your organisation’s radar, maybe use the day as a way to raise it internally.

It’s time for adults to listen to children say Save the Children in this powerful video.

Read more

Update: after the strike

Youth Strike 4 Climate stated that globally, 4 million people joined in with the strike. There were 5700 strikes in 185 countries. Scottish Youth Climate Strike estimated that 1 in 125 Scots joined the strike.

Here are some examples of timely and powerful comms shared during and after the event to mark the day and build momentum further:

Update: ongoing climate change action

  • Woodland Trust are inviting everyone to join the #BigClimateFightback by pledging to plant a tree by 30 November.
  • British Red Cross shared a video from IFRC called the #FacesOfClimateChange. The same video, translated into different languages, has been shared by branches in other countries.
  • Manchester Community Central are devoting their annual storytelling event to focus on local organisations addressing climate change. On day one they introduced Friends of Fallowfield Loop.
  • Friends of the Earth shared an animation, saying “If you’ve been inspired by the #GlobalClimateStrike or Greta Thunberg’s incredible speech to the UN, then don’t wait for those in power to #TakeClimateAction.”

What do you think?

Did your organisation join in? Is climate change being discussed internally? Have you seen any great examples of climate change comms?

Small Charity Week – round-up of useful posts

Today I volunteered at the Big Advice Day event in London organised by the team at FSI as part of Small Charity Week. They organised an impressive 315 hours of advice between over 120 advisors and 100 charities in the room and over the phone / Skype. The room was buzzing all day!

I spent an hour in turn with people from five amazing small charities and talked about digital comms / marketing / fundraising. The charities were very different (two working in development / overseas, two health charities and one local branch of a national charity). And of different sizes and ages. All were doing properly amazing and vital work with limited funds.

Here are some of the main themes which we covered and some links to relevant posts I have written, useful to small charities.

(NB I mostly include examples from larger organisations in posts as these are easier to find. I would love to include more from smaller charities. I think we can all learn from each other. Did you see the Small Charities Coalition, #BigSupportSmall campaign which launched on Monday?)

urban street art - snoopy the dog looks up at a flying yellow woodstock (from Charlie Brown)

Legacy fundraising

Four out of the five charities I saw today wanted to talk about legacy fundraising. Many had received legacy gifts but felt that they could do more to drive this type of support. Some were uncomfortable about making an ask.

We talked about using hooks to make the ask easier like Remember a Charity Week in September, Free Wills Month in March or significant events like an anniversary or capital project.

We mostly talked about content – for example, how to make the ask, what terminology should you use to inspire supporters to trust you enough to make this future donation? Really this depends on your audience and their relationship with you. Your ask might be more effective if made via a letter or mentioned in a speech at an event. However, you should probably still have something about legacy giving on your website to help people with the practicalities. The tone of voice and images you use here are key. Your direct relationship with your beneficiaries / supporters is a huge asset as a small charity. If you understand and show that you understand their motivations, you can write content which is powerful and persuasive. If you can show that leaving a gift like this, is something people like them do, it helps them take action too.

It is important to check the digital experience you are giving on your pages – for example can people find the information about gifts in Wills easily (how many clicks and where is it), is the information practical and helpful (does it tell them what they need to know)? Check the statistics if you can, to see where people are dropping off your journey and make changes as needed.

We looked at examples of others being creative, confident and appropriate in the messaging. There are lots of examples of this here:

Involving people with ‘lived experience’

More and more charities are involving people with first-hand experience of the cause at board level, in co-design of services, and in strategy setting. Many of those I talked to today were doing this but not yet involving them in comms. There are big opportunities (and risks) to include first-hand storytelling in your on and offline comms, funding applications and in-person events.

Comms processes

Being a comms / marketing / fundraising person in a small charity means prioritising and juggling. It can be easy to be overwhelmed by needing to be on 24/7. Some of this pressure can be eased by sorting out your systems and processes so that you don’t waste time looking for an image or re-writing a standard piece of copy. (I have a crib sheet of standard tweets, messages and links I can modify and use which saves loads of time.)

Spending some time working out your image strategy, thinking about crisis comms or working on monthly comms plan is time well spent. In a small charity you can be reactive but to avoid feeling like you are always chasing your tail, make sure this is balanced with some planning and preparation.

Small Charity Week

There is lots going on during the rest of the week including fundraising day on Thursday and celebration day on Saturday. Do get involved. The hashtag is #SmallCharityWeek.

Find out about the small charities near where you live. There are sure to be lots of them working from kitchen tables (see this fab thread from Tiny Tickers sharing their working spaces) or shared offices. They are on the ground working in your community or supporting people further afield. Just look at this great A-Z of small charities in Camden curated by Camden Giving which gives a flavour of the volume and variety of organisations in one London borough.

Use the Charity Commission charity search to find a small charity near you. Then find out how you can help. Donate your money or time or skills to give them a boost. Small charities need your support.

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