Digital round-up – April 2020

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.

Street art - Triangle with man in a hat walking across a zebra crossing. Says 'Virus' underneath. Looks like a warning sign.

How to use: 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 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.

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:

Comms

Illustration of a Tank from Yasmeen Serhan's article

Digital – strategy, design, culture

Inaccessible tweet from 10 Downing Street. Uses image of a letter with no text description

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.

Fundraising

2.6 challenge image. boy in a superhero costume

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.

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.

Sector

And finally….

Lavender field in Kent

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.

Your recommendations

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.

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Did you miss the last round-up? Catch up with more good reads from a time before lockdown.

Digital round-up – November 2019

Highlights this month: digital benchmarking and engagement research, Star Wars, social media for leaders, digital inclusion.

November is always a hectic month of awareness days and the build-up to Christmas. This year, add in the General Election, increasing responses to the climate crisis and lots of knowledge sharing at conferences. There was so much to keep up with while also trying to get some work done! Here are some highlights you might have missed.

Coloured plastic pipes

How to use: 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.

Charity content and campaigns

Ad from West London Mission - he is (a dad of two, a brentford fan, can finish any crossword, excellent at conkers) sleeping in the park

Comms

Digital – strategy, design, culture

Celebrating the Web Foundation’s 10th birthday with highlights from each year and ending with the launch of the Contract for the Web. There are five days left to watch Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s Dimbleby Lecture on iPlayer.

The sixth Charity Digital Index launched, benchmarking digital capability and essential digital skills. Here are some highlights from the launch event and a link to download the Charity Digital Index report.

Reason Digital surveyed over 2000 people and have produced The new rules of digital engagement: 2019 report with insights into how the UK population interacts with charities digitally. Essential reading.

Charity Comms’ annual Charity Digital Conference was huge. Catch up with my Moment of my live tweeting through the sessions I went to including this one by Bruce Daisley about workplace culture. You can now also access the conference slides and Laura Robertson’s blog post summary.

Slide from Bruce Daisley's session at the Charity Digital Conference - quote from Fleabag author "As an audience all you really want is to be surprised by things."

Digital inclusion:

Fundraising

People and organisations

Social media for leaders:

Climate

And finally….

Your recommendations

What did you read, watch or launch this month? Please add your links 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.

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

Be a good Secret Santa 2019

Don’t buy your colleagues or family members pointless plastic tat or novelty socks this year. Instead use some or all of your Secret Santa in a more impactful way.

Here are some links to charities running Secret Santa-sized fundraising campaigns and other ideas for doing good within your budget.

Vintage wrapping paper

Buy a gift for someone else

Support a seasonal gift charity campaign with your Secret Santa.

Buy good gifts

Spread Christmas cheer

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

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

What are you doing?

Last year, the team I was working in split their Secret Santa. We each gave £5 to the pot to be donated to a Christmas appeal we all agreed on. Then had a budget of £5 to spend on a gift which had to be bought from a charity shop.

  • Do you do Secret Santa in your team? Any tips?
  • Is your charity doing an interesting appeal?

Please share in the comments.

See also…

Merry Christmas!

Digital round-up – May 2019

Highlights this month: mental health awareness, campaigns about talking, animals (dogs, cats, ravens) and lots of great digital charity reads.

Not sure where the summer has gone! Pop the kettle on, turn off the news and catch up with some of the things you might have missed in May.

dandelion fluffy clock plus a few buttercups

How to use: 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

20 questions to start a conversation with a young person, including 'what are you most looking forward to this week' and 'what makes you feel calm'

This month, it was #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek so there was some great content around. For example, have a look at:

Also this month:

Still from End Loneliness video - two men have a chat. One says 'I think I might just just go for a little walk around and actually say hello to someone'

six photos of men with their cats (including one of cats in a car)

Twitter takeover of the month: Ceri and Krissie’s Twitter takeover of the Scope account showing how Scope have developed their digital experiences to make them easy to use and accessible.

What are you doing for #SmallCharityWeek next week (17-22 June)? If you don’t work for a small charity, why not find a local one to support. Keep an eye out for the #BigSupportSmall campaign too.

Comms

Don’t miss CharityComms’ Getting ahead in your comms career conference next week (20 June). Follow #CommsCareer if you are not there.

Digital – strategy, design, culture

NCVO have updated the Digital Maturity Matrix to include service design, data protection and security. Have you used this tool to assess the digital maturity of your organisation? In today’s Charity Digital Report, it was cited (question4)  by just 23% of respondents. Do take a look if you haven’t seen it already.

Once you have done that, read Digital transformation is a leadership problem about team culture and blockages by Mike Bracken. Here’s his definition as he says the term has got lost in all the noise: “digital transformation is the act of radically changing how your organisation works, so that it can survive and thrive in the internet era.”

Parkinson's UK service team's principles (including we are people focussed, we are transparent)

Fundraising

Don’t miss the free online conference from Resource Alliance – 12 & 13 June: Fundraising Online including an international line-up of speakers.

People and organisations

illustration for Citizen's Advice future of advice plan

And finally….

Your recommendations

What did you read, watch or launch this month? Please add your links 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 April’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

Charity web at 30

The World Wide Web is 30 today (11 March 2019). Five years ago I used the Wayback Machine to look at trends in charity website design, using British Red Cross as an example. Here is the post, now updated with lessons from 2019.

Is your charity website keeping up with the latest developments in design and functionality?

Starting out – 1998

British Red Cross website 1998

The British Red Cross homepage in 1998 shows that the web standard of logo in top-left was there from the start. The site was very basic, probably hand-coded in html and uploaded via FTP.

  • Brochure-ware content – dense homepage to be read like a book.
  • Email to make a donation.
  • ‘Click here’ links.
  • No images.
  • No search.
  • Approx 10 pages. Only one-level down.
  • Sponsored by Vauxhall.

Increased functionality – 2006

British Red Cross 2006

Fast-forward eight years and the 2006 homepage leads with an appeal. Fundraising and raising awareness is now most important. There is greater awareness of design. More thought about actions and audience.

  • Published using CMS.
  • Images but no coherent design.
  • Site-wide (top) and left-hand navigation.
  • Fundraising prominent – 6/12 ‘Quick Links’ are fundraising. Donate now tab.
  • Search button.
  • Functionality – ‘In my area’.
  • Accessible links.
  • No social media (Facebook launched in 2004, Twitter in 2006).

Integrated digital comms – 2014

British Red Cross website 2014

Another eight years and now the 2014 website still leads with an appeal using a single emotive image. The site is sophisticated offering many opportunities for interaction, transaction, discussion and commerce but also has a presence across many other digital platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, blog, Apps, games etc). It feels like digital is now being taken more seriously.

  • Multiple channels (links to six network channels at the bottom of the page).
  • Optimised for mobile / tablet.
  • Many opportunities for interaction.
  • Greater use of video, audio, photos, games to tell a story.
  • Donation button and quick PayPal option on homepage.
  • CMS powered, integration with CRM and other databases.
  • Evolution of ‘in your area’ functionality.
  • Accessibility buttons.

Website in 2019

Red Cross homepage in 2019. 10s full-screen video

Now the 2019 homepage is all about clarity and impact. Previously the homepage would have had to work hard at promoting everything as most people would go to the homepage first. Now sites are so well indexed with people going direct to the pages they are looking for, so the homepage can be devoted to telling a story or running a campaign. The homepage can appeal to hearts and minds rather than acting as a directory.

The currently site uses a full-screen video for the current appeal. It shows 10 seconds of different views from Yemen to tell a story to drive donations.

Below the appeal, the page is segmented into sections with different types of links (UK appeals, get help in a crisis, support, first aid, how we help, shop). These use colour and photos to make it easy to use. This architecture is replicated in the top-level navigation which is now reduced to five options.

  • Images are more powerful, instantly telling a story. Video is centre-stage.
  • Simplified navigation (no more What we do, Where we work etc).
  • Language is shorter and has more impact. Links are 1-3 words. Appeal text is ‘Help give life-saving aid to families in desperate need’. In contrast with ‘Help us continue giving thousands of people vital aid in this desperate situation. Please give what you can today’ from 2014.
  • Donate button on top right-hand side.

Web design in 2019

I have been training people on writing for the web since 2003 – over half of the web’s life – and working on websites since 1996. Many of the old rules still apply (short sentences, headings, meaningful link text etc). But the way we consume information and content online in 2019 means that we now need to be even tighter with our words. Attention spans are shorter and screens are smaller. The language we use needs to be immediate, strong and clear. There is no room for wasteful words on the homepage or in navigation links.

Photographs and images now need to have more impact. They should use strong colours and instantly tell a story. Compare the images used in 2006 / 2014 with the images used now. They use close-ups and are not afraid of sharing an intimate moment, pain or emotion. They are beautiful and difficult to look at.

Homepages generally use a hero image (or in some cases video) which is shown at full-screen. This image has to work very hard to communicate everything you want in that key real estate location. Do you have images that are strong enough to do that? Take a look at the homepages of Crisis, NCT, Brathay Trust, and Bloodwise for examples. (See also Review and improve your use of images.)

Your digital strategy

You don’t need to be the size of British Red Cross to need a clear plan for how your website and wider digital platforms support the goals of your organisation. Technologies and design standards are changing all the time. Just today, Samaritans launched its new website which has a cool features such as a dynamic homepage which changes depending on the time of day.

A digital strategy can help you to persuade trustees to invest in new technology or staff. You may use it to plan your increasing use of social media, create digital services and have a reference for how you’ll deal with a crisis. Or it may help you plan the next 6-12 months, ensuring you are using your resources in the right way and keeping up with your peers.

Take a look at the Charity Digital Code of Practice which was launched at the end of 2018. It aims to help charities increase their impact, develop skills and improve digital sustainability. Zoe Amar recently shared data from the self-assessment tool to show where charities are at with Code.

Whatever the priorities for your website, it is worth investing your time in producing a digital strategy to support its future evolution.

Useful links

If you need in-person help, there are lots of Digital Strategy courses and freelancers / consultants who can support you.

More on the web at 30

Read more about the web at 30:

Look at other examples of how design has evolved via the web design museum.

Google Doodle for the web at 30

Be a good Secret Santa

It’s that time of year again. Rather than spending money on plastic tat / novelty socks, why not use some or all of your Secret Santa in a more impactful way? Here are a few examples of charities running Secret Santa sized fundraising campaigns and other ideas for doing good within your budget.

smiling windup snowman toy on a cafe counter surrounded by cakes

Christmas campaigns

Secret Santa gifts

Christmas cheer

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

There are countless fundraising appeals, Christmas jumper days and local food bank collections you could instead donate to in the name of your Secret Santa.

Action Man style elf - text says 'This year, leave Relf on the shelf'

Leave Relf on the shelf and give a gift that matters say International Rescue Committee in this fab video.

What are you doing?

  • Do you do Secret Santa in your team? Any tips?
  • Is your charity doing an interesting appeal?

Please share in the comments.

See also: charity digital advent calendars – tips and examples from 2017

Digital round-up – October 2018

Highlights this month: big hashtags, user-generated content, AI, voice tech, digital skills and more….

The nights are setting in and seasonal content is upon us. October is a very busy month of awareness days. There was lots of great content launched. Pop the kettle on and catch up.

close up of 50s metal toy robot

How to use: 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

10 October was #WorldMentalHealthDay, #WorldHomelessnessDay and #HousingDay. I have never seen my list of trending topics look like this for an hour, let alone all day. The trending hashtags and topics were consistently related to these issues. Nothing else got a look-in all day.

all 10 trending topics relate to social issues - a rare sight

There was some amazing content including:

Gallery of faces with white writing painted on them sharing insights into their mental health

Also this month:

screenshot of Halloween Twitter Moment

Twitter takeover of the month: CoppaFeel’s Kris Hallenger / @nhs. Kris who has been living with stage 4 breast cancer since 2009, talked about treatments and good health.

Comms

Digital – strategy, design, culture

Fundraising

graphic for Gift Aid awareness day - £560m in gift aid is unclaimed every year

People

And finally….

Your recommendations

What did you read, watch or launch this month? Please add your links 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 September’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!