Digital round-up – October 2019

Highlights this month: big hashtag events including #YouMadeItHappen and #WorldMentalHealthDay, legacy fundraising + the sector’s response to the climate emergency.

October is a massive month for awareness days and creative content so this is another bumper issue of 100+ links. I have also included a new section on the sector’s growing response to the climate emergency.

Countryside view - early morning. Orange light.

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.


Ginger cat from Battersea's ad - rescue is our favourite brand

#WorldMentalHealthDay is a very busy day. Here are some highlights and other mental health-related content shared this month:

Did you join in with #YouMadeItHappen day this year? Here is a #YMIH Moment of some of the stand-out comms and a #YMIH blog post which goes into more detail.


Screenshot from Helpful Digital post about Instagram Stories - shows screenshots from Royal Air Force

Digital – strategy, design, culture


Charity on the climate crisis

Extinction Rebellion have sector specific branches for doctors, lawyers, the arts etc but there isn’t one for the charity sector? I have added this section to share some of the sector’s response.

Poster at IFC Holland with list of environmental pledges from the conference


There’s another global school strike coming up on 29 November. Will you get involved? I wrote this about the sector’s response to the strike in September.

Campaigns and comms:

Useful reads:

People and organisations

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!

#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.


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.

‘Please donate’ in 140chars?

Does your charity ever tweet general donations asks? Should your organisation capitalise on it’s healthy social community by reminding them to donate or would formally asking this way alienate them? Here’s some food for thought to help you work out whether tweeting asks is right for you.

Strategically not asking?

This morning’s Social Brands 100 report listed Dog’s Trust as top charity. This tweet appeared as part of the launch event (text: From the beginning @dogstrust decided not to fundraise through social media but to build their community).

Dogs Trust don't fundraise through social media

Dog’s Trust are masters of using the right content on their social media to grow and engage their community. To date, they have 82,400 followers on Twitter and 517,000 Facebook likes. They generally tweet / post about events, pictures of cute dogs as well as passing on messages from people fundraising for Dog’s Trust.  But no direct appeals for donations.

A very quick straw poll of five random charities on Twitter found that in the last four days, none sent a please donate tweet. The only fundraising-related tweets were one justgiving request and one promo for a raffle. These were charities with significant numbers of followers (from 6000 – 719,000).

Asking as part of appeals

Generally, direct asks tend to relate to an appeal and invite a donation via text such as these two examples (from the British Heart Foundation and Epilepsy Action).

BHF ask - Mending Broken Hearts Appel

Epilepsy Action - text giving tweet

General asks

The only general, out of the blue ask I found was from Providence Row (again for text giving). Lovely language: “If you’re feeling generous today, please consider donating…. Sending good vibes your way”

Providence Row - text donation ask

Reasons for not tweeting asks

So, tweeting an ask is not common practice, but why? I asked this question on UKFundraising’s LinkedIn group recently and got some interesting thoughts about why it wasn’t done:

  • Organisations don’t have a large donor following on Twitter so they believe it wouldn’t generate much income or response.
  • They ask their donors/supporters so much by other channels that they don’t want to over ask and ‘switch’ them off
  • Other departments other than fundraising control the charities tweets and prefer to use them only for non fundraising uses
  • Twitter feels more like a friendly chat over the garden fence and not really the place to make a direct ask. However, it’s a great place to let people know about charities or even a particular appeal (with a link) and they can then decide for themselves if they want to get more involved.

One person said “its important to firstly build up and engage with followers by tweeting on issues of interest to them rather than using it solely for fundraising requests. A constant stream of straight donation requests is likely to lead to people un-following.”

So other than practical internal control of social media, concerns were about turning people off. Is this realistic? Surely people who follow charities through social media know that they rely on donations to survive and will tolerate and could even act on the odd request for money? Are we just being embarrassed about asking? Are we missing a trick by not tapping into this warm audience?

How do YOU feel as a follower?

As a consumer of charity tweets, do you ever see general ‘Please make a donation’ tweets amongst all the others? How do you feel about these? Do they make you want to give? Would you un-follow?


Think about your twitter / social media strategy (if you have one):

  • Is your policy based on when you were growing the community rather than now it is established?
  • How do you know what your followers want and don’t want?
  • Have you asked them what they want? (See this twitter survey from English Heritage)
  • Have you tried asking for a donation? (See what happens and use tracking to count donations / page hits / unfollows etc)
  • What does success or failure look like? If 1% of your followers donated £5 and 1% un-followed would this be ok?

I wrote this KnowHow NonProfit guide: How to use Twitter for fundraising which has some tips about writing, timing and technical giving ideas.

What do you do?

Do you tweet asks? Does it just not work? What frequency is ok (once a month / once a week?) Please share your views and experiences here.