Highlights this month: covid content, covid comms, covid language battles, covid fundraising, covid-driven digital services, covid burnout.
Well, March was intense. April was the same, but different. Now we are in May, it feels like a good time to review and reflect on the month just gone. This round-up, like most of the comms this month, is 98% coronavirus. Here are some gems you might have missed. Stay safe everyone.
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Content and digital fundraising
At the start of the pandemic in March, comms was focussed around hand washing and protecting vulnerable groups. As we moved into April, fundraising appeals, digital fundraising and lockdown coping strategy content emerged. It has been really inspiring to see so many creative campaigns turned round so quickly and made from home.
- “During the lockdown, mothers in the UK are providing at least 50% more childcare as well as spending around 10% to 30% more time than fathers home schooling their children” – Observer article. The Fawcett Society’s #MakeWomenVisible campaign says that the crisis is having a devastating impact on women and girls and is making nine demands.
- Charity So White report on the impact of covid19 on BAME communities. It establishes five key principles to guide the charity sector’s response.
- The NHS is reporting a big drop in cancer referrals. CEOs of big cancer charities recorded a shared message – #HelpUsHelpYou and some charities shared their symptoms comms (see Pancreatic Cancer UK and Bowel Cancer UK).
- Kindness will keep us together – moving advert from British Red Cross.
- Citizens Advice shared insights into how their advisors are giving #AdviceAtHome.
- Virtual fundraising ideas from Mind.
- There are lots of quizzes. See these from Mayhew, Compton Care, Marie Curie and Izzy Wizzy Let’s Get Quizzy – Sooty hosts a quiz for RNIB.
- Age UK are asking supporters to overdress.
- Some great reactive comms from Royal Academy and Wellcome Collection in response to Trump’s thoughts about bleach.
- Doncaster Council are great at using Twitter threads. Here they tell the parable of Back to the Future to teach us lessons about staying safe through a pandemic.
- April Fools from National Trust – how they are helping squirrels to find their nuts.
- Do hashtags and petitions actually work? Nice explainer from Greenpeace UK.
- #NoHookUps during a pandemic say Terence Higgins Trust (“That means w**king has never been more important. So go on – do it for yourself to help protect others). Take the Pleasure Pledge and get your kicks elsewhere.
- Sometimes we just need a hug – WWF.
- Choose your own adventure style thread from RNIB raising awareness of how hard it is for blind and partially sighted people to shop and observe social distancing.
- Domestic abuse isn’t always physical – Refuge
- Worried about your mortgage explainer from Shelter.
- FAQs thread about foodbanks – The Trussell Trust. See also stats on foodbank use in the first two weeks of the pandemic.
- Life under lockdown in a Syrian refugee camp – Oxfam.
- The National Emergency Trust has been showcasing some of the charities it has supported, like Made in Hackney.
- Not a charity, but Hassan Akkad who spoke at Being the Story, is sharing beautiful photos on Twitter of colleagues at the hospital where he is working as a cleaner. This is Sandra.
Most charities have built covid information hubs on their websites, very quickly writing lots of new content to meet the needs of their audience. These hubs are generally prominently linked from homepages and in some cases appear as a new item on top-level navigation. Here’s a selection:
- Why we shouldn’t use war metaphors to talk about healthcare – Ruth Hannan for RSA. See also The horror of coronavirus is all too real. Don’t turn it into an imaginary war – Marina Hyde and The case against waging ‘war’ on the coronavirus – Yasmeen Serhan.
- Talking about coronavirus and poverty: a guide to framing your messages – JRF.
- Framing homelessness during coronavirus (PDF) – Crisis.
- More covid framing resources from Frameworks Institute.
- Why the #ClapForMeNow video is unhelpful – a thread by Dr Ameen Kamlana.
- What putting a human face on ‘Stay home, stay safe, protect the NHS’ actually looks like – Dan Slee.
- Engagement strategies for charities: top takeaways from the Charity Comms conference. Are you suffering (or causing) infobesity – digital clutter and information overload. See also: Hearing from the sector: audience engagement during and beyond the pandemic by Sarah Fitzgerald.
- Impact of COVID-19 on charity communications – Media Trust and Charity Comms survey results from 219 responses.
- Helping senior colleagues to get started on social media – timely advice from Alasdair Dick.
- What to do with completed research project webpages – advice for research charities from Richard Berks.
- Carers UK won film of the year at the Charity Film Awards. The CFA awards ceremony was streamed online and brilliantly presented by the CFA team.
- Has your charity made its own Zoom background? This UK Fundraising article explains how. Charities – how to make a Zoom background for your supporters. Missing the tube? Check out these backgrounds from TfL. And these from Fundraising Everywhere. And these gems from BBC empty TV show sets.
Digital – strategy, design, culture
- One in three charities has cancelled services due to lack of digital skills or tech – Zoe Amar shares initial results of the Charity Digital Skills Survey. The survey is open until 15 May.
- The top ten digital challenges facing the charity sector – Catalyst.
- How charities are making their services digital in light of Covid19 – Kirsty Marrins for Lightful. Includes lots of examples including NSPCC, The Ramblers and The Bike Project.
- 5 ways coronavirus will change the charity sector – Zoe Amar for Charity Digital.
- How should service design react to COVID-19? NHS Digital.
- Ten content design tips any charity can use to make online services work better – Joe Roberson.
- Fast-track content design for coronavirus – Stephanie Coulshed of Scope.
- Versus Arthritis launches UK’s first condition-specific coronavirus chatbot – Civil Society.
- Citizens Online launched a digital exclusion GP surgery map.
- Citizens Advice have been releasing data from their website showing key topics of concern and how this is changing during the crisis. Might be useful to look at if you are creating your own content or signposting information.
- Interactive Covid-19 data for charities and funders – NPC.
- Top tips about digital advertising during this time from Matt Collins.
- 12 tips on social media advertising for charities during COVID-19 – Matt Howarth.
- The Young Trustees Movement launch their new digital hub in style.
- Monthly accessibility tip: A 10-step guide to make your social media content more accessible – National Lottery Community Fund – Scotland.
It has been really worrying to see the rise of so much inaccessible information during this time from official sources, businesses and some charities. The accessibility of official information provided by No10, DHSC, PHE and even the NHS has been especially poor at a time when it matters most. This was covered on Channel 4 News.
It has been particularly noticeable that so many organic and promoted tweets used images or gifs of text to share statements and complicated information. These generally appear with no alt text or link to an html version of the information, or text version in a thread. The information is therefore inaccessible to anyone who can’t view images. There have also been lots of videos without subtitles and without voice overs.
Clearly this has been a pressured time to release information as quickly as possible. But accessibility matters.
- RNIB asked Number 10 for leadership on accessible coronavirus information.
- @covidaccessinfo was set up to challenge bad practice.
- Press briefings are also broadcast without sign language interpreters. Now lack of sign language interpreters leads to legal case against government – BBC.
- £7m was raised during the #TwoPointSixChallenge (London Marathon) weekend. People did so many exhausting and creative challenges. Here’s a round-up from UK Fundraising – 26 examples of 2.6 Challenge fundraising events. (My 7yo wrote a Roald Dahl quiz – download and donate £2 to play – thanks!)
- £70m raised during the week of the #BigNightIn.
- Captain Tom raised over £32m for NHS Charities. Just Giving shared a list of fundraisers inspired by him. (See also #WalkWithTom – raising money for ‘the NHS’)
- Inspiring virtual charity fundraiser ideas – Charity Comms.
- What charities can learn from the lockdown laps coronacoaster – Richard Sved shares lessons for fundraisers.
- How has the virus affected the nation’s mood? – useful insights from gov.uk. How might this affect your fundraising?
- 5 ways the coronavirus is changing the legacy market and what this means for charities – Rob Cope for IoF.
- You are not alone – how The Samaritans adapted their fundraising and set up a dedicated support service for NHS workers within 10 days. Interview with Sonya Trivedy.
- Webinar on digital fundraising for small charities – Matt Howarth for Lloyds Bank Foundation.
- Richard Sved is a master of conference live-tweeting. This month he has covered Alice Ferris’ Writing a fundraising strategy session and #IWITOT.
- Brevio – new website matching charities with grants.
- There still a chance to book for the Fundraising Everywhere Virtual Conference – 11-15 May.
People and organisations
We’ve all had to rapidly adjust to this new way of working. It has been tough. Not least because of the technological learning curve and the loss of face-to-face contact, but also because we are all dealing with big additional mental loads as we come to terms with the situation we are living and working in. The home schooling, the loneliness, the worries about food and health and the future and our loved ones. There’s lots to deal with.
There was a flood of ‘top tips for working at home’ type-articles at the start. And now, there are more about recognising that wall-to-wall Zoom calls and WFH (especially when your home isn’t set up for this) is very draining. If you are finding it hard, or your team’s motivation is draining, this is normal. Here are some articles which it might be worth sharing internally. You are doing great. It’s ok to have off-days. Working life is likely to be like this for a while.
- 3 tips to avoid WFH burnout – Harvard Business Review.
- New and changing patterns for digital working – Ben Holliday discusses the move from working remotely during a pandemic to digital working.
- The reason Zoom calls drain your energy – BBC.
- Leading your team and communicating through a crisis – Matthew Sherrington for IoF.
- Charity Comms’ wellbeing guide for comms professionals.
- Sound familiar? Fundraising right now from the fundraising frontline – Agents for Good
The current situation has lots of implications for long-term outputs. Organisational strategies have been parked and business as usual pivoted. It’s a challenging time for senior leaders and trustees.
- What should charity trustees be thinking about? NPC
- YHA – what does it mean to be a charity in the decisions that we make? Anita Kerwin-Nye. “From repurposing our hostels to support the most vulnerable in communities, to creating scrubs in YHA green from recycled bed linen”, here’s how the YHA responded.
- How Hospice UK have responded including by running weekly Zoom calls of 300 colleagues across the country. CEO Tracey Bleakley explains in this short video post.
- Virtual Relay: Live panel debate on how charities are adapting to the impact of COVID-19 – Raw.
- The CEO decathlon I didn’t foresee – Menai Owen-Jones for ACEVO.
- The value of extreme crisis planning. How Tesco’s ‘doomsday exercise’ helped it cope with the coronavirus – The Guardian.
- Lords leap to charities’ aid – DSC report on the House of Lords debate on charities (30 April).
- 9 out of 10 BAME micro and small organisations is set to close if the crisis continues beyond 3 months following the lockdown – report from The Ubele Initiative.
- Medical research charities are facing a significant loss in funding. AMRC have a detailed information hub about the impact. See also Cancer Research UK cuts research funding by £44m, which could set it back ‘for years’ – Civil Society.
- The #NeverMoreNeeded campaign followed on from #EveryDayCounts.
- The Chancellor finally announced some support for the sector. Here are some of the responses – thread by David Ainsworth, NCVO statement. It was disappointing to read the number of ‘what about CEO salaries’ statements under Sky News’ Beth Rigby announcement.
- Karl Wilding of NCVO gave evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on 31 March.
I am missing train trips and walks in open countryside. I have been sharing some virtual walks and adventures including Cornwall, a sleeper train to Spain (and back) plus the lavender fields of Kent.
If you want to transport yourself to other places at a deeper level, take a look at Radio Lento podcasts. Get some headphones and listen to 30-minute soundscapes of woods, rivers and birds. Perfect for meditation, some quiet before sleep or just switching off during the day. Subscribe via your podcast provider or get updates via @RadioLento.
- Lots to explore in the BBC’s Museum from home page.
- 1.9m views for this 3year-old sheep handler.
- How to recreate old family photos – this made me cry.
- ‘Useful’ makeup tutorial.
- Boy reads Owl Babies to baby owls.
What did you read, watch or launch? Please share in the comments.
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 the last round-up? Catch up with more good reads from a time before lockdown.