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.

——

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

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!

Are you ready for crisis comms?

Would you know how to handle a crisis comms situation? A crisis can hit whatever the size or cause of your organisation. Many charities have never done any thinking or planning around crisis comms which can leave them vulnerable when one happens.

Official sign on a fence says "KEEP CLEAR. Access required 24 hours a day"

A crisis can take many forms. For example, it could be something that has happened internally (whether it is your fault or not) or a storm about something you do or are associated with (again whether true or not). Or it can be external, for example, a hot topic in your area of work which you are involved with, or something effecting your geographical community, such as a fire or flood. If handled right and in certain circumstances, you can come out the other side with new supporters or a stronger community.

A crisis can also be positive. For example, an unexpected growth, someone with a very high profile championing you, or some unplanned media profile.

Crisis comms planning

Whatever the situation, it pays to have done some thinking about the different situations which could affect you. How you respond in each situation may be different depending on how it could impact your reputation, your beneficiaries, your supporters, your employees, your partners etc. The scale of the crisis or how likely it is to escalate will also be a factor.

Can you list some possible situations which you would consider a crisis? Have any of these happened? What did you learn? What would you do differently next time and how have you documented this? What constitutes a crisis and what is business as usual?

If you are at the start of a crisis, would you know what to do? It can feel a bit ‘rabbit in headlights’ if you haven’t been in a situation like this before. It is good to plan for some of the logistics. For example:

  • Who should be on your crisis comms team? Do they have defined roles? Is there someone in charge?
  • Where should you meet?
  • What tools do you need? Such as laptops, phones, a big wall and post-its?
  • What channels would you use or avoid? (see using social media for crisis comms)
  • How can you work best as a team to keep other informed about what is happening?
  • What if it happens out of office hours? Do you have each other’s contact details or passwords? Would you respond from home or all go to the office? Do you have keys? Can you access the website or other channels remotely?

Building your crisis comms skills

Nothing beats actually being in a crisis to develop your skills. In my career I have lived through a few and can remember them very clearly. You learn a lot by being tested in this way. And if there is a next time, instinctive skills kick in.

Can you run a crisis simulation in your team? Can they write a press release under pressure and know how to get it signed off quickly? Do they know when they should involve the CEO or trustees? Have they got a collective tone of voice to be able to collectively respond to social media comments? Do they agree about when or how to respond to a fictional but possible situation? Can they make decisions quickly?

There are companies who run simulation sessions for organisations. I sat-in on one with Helpful Digital over the summer. They have their own secure platform where dummy tweets, emails, Facebook posts and a website can fully replicate the experience of being in the thick of a crisis comms situation. Brilliant to be able to experience a crisis without it being a real crisis!

Learn from others

Another useful way to build crisis comms skills is to look at how other organisations respond. Watch what they do. Would this approach work for you? For example, a few years ago Dogs Trust said that they felt more able to respond strongly to a negative press story after seeing how RNLI had responded to an earlier one.

Have sessions in your team meetings discussing other organisation’s approaches. Don’t just look at your peers. Think KFC running out of chicken.

There are lots of great case studies to read. Start with Brathay Trust – a lesson in crisis comms and Dan Slee’s recent investigation into the crisis comms around the Whaley Bridge dam incident.

[Take a look at RNLI’s recent response to negative press stories about them using 2% of their income to fund overseas projects to prevent drowning. The story broke on Sunday resulting in negative comments and people saying they were cancelling donations. By the end of Monday there were over 4000 replies to RNLI’s initial tweet. #RNLI_disgrace has been trending all day mostly now with messages of support and new donations. A few charities have also tweeted their support including Save the Children, Friends of the Earth and the Institute of Fundraising all with a strong number of likes.

RNLI’s approach has been to proudly defend their work putting their values and mission at the centre of their comms. They have responded to hundreds of people with a personal message, not just a cut and paste of a statement. It feels authentic. They even changed their homepage to show a powerful image of one of the projects in action. Read more about the story in this great summary on UK Fundraising.]

Look after each other

Being in the middle of a crisis situation is stressful and tiring. It can also be very draining to be dealing with an unpleasant situation, a barrage of unpleasant comments or challenging internal pressures.

Think about how you’ll look after each other during and after the event. There may not be time for lunch or to work on everyday projects. Everyone may need some time out and treats to keep them going.

Charity Comms’ new guide to wellbeing has useful tips about building resilience and spotting the signs of fatigue.

Your tips

What have you done to learn about crisis comms? What advice would you pass on? Are there examples of bad crisis comms we can learn from too? Please share in the comments.


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.

SMEX18 – Telling stories

The keynote speech at this year’s Social Media Exchange (run by soundDelivery) was given by Dr Sue Black. Sue led the campaign to save Bletchley Park (do go if you haven’t been) and aims to have trained 1 million women through her #TechMums programme by 2020. She set up the BCS Women network and was recently named as one of the top 50 women in tech in the Europe. Her message was ‘If I can do it, so can you’.

This had also been the message of the day. Speakers shared tips and examples so others (mainly people from small charities) could develop their skills so they could do it too.

After a quick warm up, here are my top takeaways….

warm-up exercise at SMEX18 - everyone with their arms in the air

1. People want to tell their story

I went to sessions by Jessica Barlow who launched the @nhs account and George Olney, Stories Journalist at Crisis. Both of them work as facilitators of stories.

Take a look at the archive of stories as Twitter Moments from the brilliant @nhs account to see the insights being shared by medical professionals and patients. Then look at Crisis’ EverybodyIn campaign which works a bit like Humans of New York, sharing photos and stories from homeless people across the country.

screenshot of Crisis' stories

People want to share. They want you to understand something. They want you to learn. Listen.

How can you help the people you work with to tell their stories? Is your organisation stuck, not doing anything with stories in case it goes wrong or is off-message?

The Crisis stories don’t mention Crisis. The stories are helping us to understand the causes and impact of homelessness. The charity doesn’t need to get in the way of this.

Similarly, the @nhs curator is given freedom to talk about what is important to them. Tweets are not edited or approved. As a result they are engaging and authentic. [Read more about Twitter takeovers and rocur.]

> Get out of the way. Help people to tell their stories. Your organisation doesn’t need to be the story.

2. Stories come in different forms

We are in a golden age of content. But this means there is a lot of noise and you can break the rules. So now is your chance to be creative!

Look at Emma Lawton’s video blog. Since April 2017 she has been vlogging every day through her PD365 series on YouTube. This heavy content commitment means she has had to be creative and find different ways of sharing different messages.

screenshot of Emma Lawton's vlogs showing lots of different styles

Luke Williams ex of RNLI shared lots of examples of charities using 360 video, virtual reality and chat bots (take a look at Luke’s slides). More and more organisations are experimenting with new formats for stories. An immersive story where the user gets to experience something rather than just reading about it, will have greater impact.

> What format will have the most impact for your story? Experiment and just do it!

3. Personal connections matter

The most moving story was from Alison Hitchcock who wrote letters to her friend Brian through his treatment for bowel cancer. She subsequently set up From Me to You, a campaign to encourage people to write letters to friends, family and strangers with cancer.

A simple letter can be like holding someone’s hand. It can be a distraction. What a beautiful thing to do.

> How can you make a personal connection to help someone?

4. Just do it

Barbara from Behind Bras and Andy / David from Hair Unite shared their experiences of seeing a solution to a problem and rolling their sleeves up to get on with it.

Jessica from NHS England was the one who thought that a curated account would work to tell the hidden stories away of the health service press releases and tabloid stories. She researched and risk-assessed it, pitching the idea to colleagues.

Crisis know that they need to reframe perceptions and prejudices of homelessness in order to drive the change to end homelessness. Sharing stories and photographs helps them to do this.

> Don’t wait for someone else to make something happen. Be part of the change you want to see.

SMEX18

What were your highlights? What were your takeaways? Please do share.

Also, do take a look at Gemma Pettman’s blog post in which she shares the tips she picked up at the event.

More on storytelling

Can I help you? I am a digital freelancer, working with charities on their content, comms and digital strategies.

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280 characters on Twitter

In case you missed it, Twitter started to roll-out its 280 character limit to all users today. Personally I think it is a sad day and mourn the opportunity that everyone had to get a message across clearly and concisely in 140. Of course there is no reason why you now have to use the full 280. Readers still have short attention spans so being clear and concise still wins in my book.

Many took to the platform, responding quickly and creatively to mark the change by spreading important messages using their first #280Character tweets. Here are some examples taken from my #280Characters Moment.

Samaritans Ireland reminded us what they do. Haven House Children’s Hospice shared their impact in 2016/17.

Samaritans Ireland

Mental Health Foundation shared stats about mental health (as well as an image asking for donations). Crisis simply repeated their pledge to end homelessness.

Mental Health Foundation

Crisis - 'end homelessness'

Scotland Fire and Rescue used it as a chance to share some important numbers.

Scot Fire and Rescue

Others like Breast Cancer Care, the Met Office and Rethink Mental Illness used just emojis. (See also this from the Cookie Monster!)

BCC use emojis to make a big pink ribbon

Some used the extra space to say thank you. Oxfam used a video and RNLI a simple thanks.

Oxfam's thank you video

Book Trust started a conversation about favourite characters (nice tie-in!) and got lots of replies.

Books Trust

Some just went mad with the extra space! See GiveBlood NHS, Age UK Lambeth and the Science Museum. Plus Macmillan’s cake tweet and London Ambulance’s nee-naws (currently clocking up 15,000 likes and a nee-naw-off with other emergency service accounts!)

GiveBlood NHS, Science Museum and Age UK Lambeth repeat their messages over and over!

Well done to all who reacted so quickly in such brilliant ways!

Does your comms / social media strategy allow you the space to be reactive and creative?

See the full collection including tweets from museums and heritage organisations in my #280Characters Moment.

See also How 280 twitter characters could benefit comms people by Kerry-Lynne Pyke of Macmillan Cancer on comms2point0  with notes about how the increase should benefit charities who tweet in English and Welsh.

Did you spot any other good examples? Do you have a story to tell about your reactive comms? Please share in the comments.

10 tips for great online legacy fundraising

In 2013 I wrote about online legacy fundraising content. Although well written persuasive copy is still key, digital trends move on. So four years later it is time to see whether the web pages about legacy fundraising have improved and what has changed.

I looked at a random sample of over 50 large, medium and small charities. In most cases the pages were pretty dull, especially from smaller charities. It is hard to write warm, engaging copy about legacies as we often fall over ourselves trying to be sensitive. But the charities who get it right have a confidence and a clear sense of themselves and their audience.

collage of various screenshots from sites discussed below

Here are ten ingredients for emotive and effective online legacy fundraising.

Be clear and persuasive

WaterAid’s legacy site stood out as the go-to example of a persuasive and well designed site. The page starts with a clear call to action – leave the world with water – which sets the tone. They use eye catching and engaging links and headings (leave your mark / what would you like to pass on?) which include and challenge the reader. Images are positive and inspiring. They also include a photograph and name of a person to contact as well as a legacy promise which are both reassuring and clear.

WaterAid

Save the Children UK also use clear and inspiring headings (write a child’s smile into your will) and use bold to highlight important words. They use beautiful pictures of smiling children to reinforce their words. Their writing is confident, concise and persuasive (make a lasting difference, your kindness).

Save the Children UK

Use social proofing to normalise the action

Many charities talk about ‘thousands of people who leave a legacy’ or ‘thanks to people like you’. This social proofing is refecting and reinforcing the decision that the reader is almost ready to make.

Events like Remember a Charity week help to promote legacy fundraising. Many charities use the event to reinforce their ask, showing that remembering a charity is a normal action that everyone can do.

The Migraine Trust makes a clear statement which makes leaving a legacy accessible – “a gift of just 1% will make a real difference to supporting our charitable work”. This is a clearer way of what they were saying in 2013 (see below).

Migraine Trust

Use video

Since 2013, many more legacy pages include videos. Take a look at this personal message from a supporter on Prisoners Abroad. Or this slick video from ActionAid showing Mrs Harben’s legacy. Or this simple beautiful video from RSPB. Or this speaking from the heart story from Glenys who supports the Alzheimer’s Society.

Alzheimer's Society

Talk about impact

What difference will someone’s gift make? Talk big picture about your vision / mission or about specific services. More charities are making big statements about what a legacy means to them.

RSPB’s opening statement is clear and bold: Your legacy is nature’s future.

RSPB

Refugee Action’s Leave a legacy page goes into more detail. It is beautifully written using storytelling and sense of urgency. It frames the problem and talks about what they can do with a legacy gift. The page is short, concise and powerful. A great example of a small charity getting it right.

East Lancashire Hospice talk about leaving a legacy of love and explain that last year, legacy gifts paid for three months of care.

If your organisation is all about solving a problem or finding a cure, talking about legacies could be difficult. How do you frame the ask when you might not be around or needed in the same way in 20 / 50 years? Don’t avoid the issue – think about how you can present it effectively.

Macmillan Cancer‘s legacy page says: “In the future, doctors and nurses are going to get much better at diagnosing cancer earlier, and treating it.” But stresses that half of us will get cancer at some point so Macmillan will still be needed.

Say please and thank you

Choosing to leave a legacy to a charity is a big deal. The fact that someone is reading your page about this is a good sign. Keep them with you by recognising this. Say please and thank you in the right places. If you come across as kind and thoughtful at the asking stage, it will reassure people that you will behave in the same way when you are processing their gift.

Think about motivation

Why do you think someone might have reached your page? What are they thinking. This page by the Miscarriage Association is written really warmly and in a gentle tone of voice. The quote perfectly positions the ask.

Miscarriage Association

Include appropriate images

Brighten up a serious subject with colourful or inspiring images. Reward visitors to this page and make them want to stay. A collection of several images may work better than a single one. For example, this landing page for the British Heart Foundation includes images of family, medical research as well as a big thank you.

BHF

Many organisations seem to rely on stock images of grey-haired couples on their legacy pages. Remember to use images which reflect the demographics of your readers. Also people often write their will triggered by big life events such as getting married or having children. Your audience isn’t just people in later stages of their lives. Make sure you are using images which reflect their own image back at them.

Take a look at NSPCC’s page which includes quotes and images from supporters at different stages of their lives. Their stories may chime with readers, validating their own idea to leave a legacy to NSPCC (another example of social proofing).

NSPCC

Think about a hook

What could make your legacy fundraising stand out? What stories do you have to tell? Has a legacy gift allowed you to do something special or unusual? Is there someone you could write about or feature to make your ask come to life?

Mencap’s gifts in wills page is based around the inspiring story of Lord Brian Rix. The page says that he “helped change the future for people with a learning disability. With a gift in your Will to Mencap you can too.” It uses beautiful images from their archive and talks about what he achieved in his lifetime. It says that although lots has changed, people with learning disabilities still face challenges so by leaving a gift in your will, you can help change the future too.

Mencap

Similarly, Leonard Cheshire, marking its centenary say “Leonard’s legacy became our legacy. It could be your legacy too.”

Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity includes information about JM Barrie’s legacy gift in their pages. Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity talks about your final chapter and how to write your own ending.

Include practical information

Make it as easy as possible for someone to actually get the legal stuff right. So include:

  • information about different types of gifts (see this handy guide to the types of legacies by Demelza Hospice)
  • your official name (and any previous names) and charity number
  • suggested wording
  • information to help someone work out the detail of their estate
  • information for executors
  • contact details so a potential donor can get in touch.

A promise can offer reassurance about how a legacy will be dealt with when the time comes. A few charities included these – see WaterAid’s promise, RNLI and Breast Cancer Now.

Be interesting

There were a few examples of charities who’d produced interesting supporting content. For example:

  • Blue Cross reminds readers to think about their digital assets (passwords, data, photos, social media etc)
  • Cancer Research’s campaign with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Two Thirds of a Spring reflects the vital impact that one third of funding has on their life-saving work
  • Alzheimer’s Society has an online book of remembrance
  • visitors are invited to make a personalised video with Unicef UK. (NB Unicef UK have been running a campaign of promoted tweets about this recently, the only social media content I spotted about legacy fundraising during the research for this post.)

Unicef UK promoted tweet

 Get the navigation and terminology right

Think about where your legacy pages sit. How easy are they to find within navigation or search? Be your own mystery customer and check.

Don’t bury your pages – make them prominent, especially if legacies make up a sizeable proportion of your income. Don’t just stick them under ‘Other ways to give’.

Check where they appear in your content rankings on your Google Analytics. Are you using the right terminology for your audience? Test whether the word legacy or will works best. Many charities use both.

See my previous post on legacy fundraising (persuasive and engaging writing in online legacy fundraising) for some tips on terminology and placing of legacy pages. Also how to talk about legacies on social media.

How do you measure up?

Is your online legacy fundraising content strong enough or is it dull and unconvincing? Give your copy a facelift before Remember a Charity week in September. If you are not sure how well it comes across, get your mum to read it or do a page swap with someone else from another charity. Get some feedback and think about how you could bring your content to life.

Share your examples

Have you seen (or written) any good or bad examples of digital legacy fundraising? Please do share them here.

My top five online legacy fundraising sites are listed in a JustGiving blog post. I’d love to hear what yours are.

 

 

See also:

 

January’s charity content highlights

Come out from underneath your desk / duvet and catch up with some of the latest creative charity content.

L-R Dave the Parkinsons Worm, contactless giving Zurich Insurance post, Street Support video, National Lottery gif

Innovation

Cancer Research are continuing their trend of using World Cancer Day (this Saturday – 4 February) to launch new uses for contactless fundraising. Ten ‘smart benches’ across two London boroughs will take £2 donations.

Are you planning to look in to contactless fundraising in 2017? NSPCC recently announced impressive results of their contactless fundraising and many other organisations are using it too. I gathered some examples of contactless giving in my blog post for Zurich Insurance and spoke to Haven House Children’s Hospice who are running trials at the moment.

Not sure what the technical term for this is but the National Lottery did a very smart bit of Twittering by launching this 7second video and inviting people to RT it ‘for a surprise’. The surprise was a personalised video, with the RTers’ Twitter profile image in a gold frame, with the words ‘National Treasure’ underneath. Nice! This was similar to a thanks reply from Save the Children I got in December.

National Lottery video of interesting doors / walls

Today it is Time to Talk Day (#timetotalk). Why not use Time to Change’s template to make your own graphic?

Time to Change's interactive graphic maker

Good reads

If you get a moment, don’t forget to fill in the Charity Digital Skills Survey which is open until 17 February.

And follow #smex17 on Monday if you are not going to the Social Media Exchange in person.

Re-brands / new websites / charity content

Action for Children's error message - cheeky boy with magnifying glass

To brighten your day

Meme of badly drawn pictures 'pasted' on top of a video of Donald Trump's policy signings

What have you seen?

What have been your charity content highlights from January? Do share! I’d love to hear from you.

Creative ways to illustrate data and stats on social media

Stats and data can be very dry but with some attractive or fun images, you can make them interesting. On social media you have a second or so to attract someone’s attention. A dull text tweet or post may get limited views or clicks. (See how much more engaging a tweet with an image to illustrate a statistic is: Breast Cancer Now vs British Heart Foundation prevalence tweets.) Whereas one with a creative image may encourage someone to pause and read more.

Here are some examples of tweets which include graphics to illustrate data or statistics.

Count-ups

Totalisers are a great way to illustrate fundraising targets and successes (see Richard Sved’s Blue Peter blog post if you are not sure). But count-up stats can work for other things too. Think, number of hedgehogs rescued or Big Knit hats knitted.

Many of RNLI’s lifeboat stations have their own twitter accounts which they use to share details of launches. This example from RNLI in Poole shows the running total of launches over the year and since 1865 as displayed on a noticeboard in the station.

Noticeboard showing daily and overall total of RNLI Poole's shouts

Maps

Everyone loves a map.

The London Fire Brigade share details of the incidents they are dealing with. This tweet uses a map to show where an incident is happening. Other tweets use photos from the location.

London Fire Brigade: map showing location of an incident

Macmillan Coffee have an amazing searchable map showing where their coffee mornings are happening:

Macmillan Coffee: map showing the number of coffee mornings on Jersey and Guernsey

Maps can go even further to bring an event to life, especially if they show the remoteness or danger of a place. This tweet from a boat enthusiast uses an app called ShipFinder to illustrate an RNLI shout off the coast of John O’Groats.

Map showing 2 lifeboats with a boat in trouble

When using third party data, do check the data protection and copyright issues.

Here’s another nice use of maps (I like maps) from the Met Office who are fab at social media. It contains lots of information. There’s a background image to give a sense of the weather as well as UK map with blobs showing different summaries for areas with text over the top.

Met Office: tweeting the weather forecast summary

Infographics

Infographics are still a strong way to present data. If done well they can tell a story.

This graphic from the Fawcett Society shows the number of references to men and women in economics coverage.

Fawcett Society: graphic showing the representation of women in discussions about economics

The Big Issue Foundation regularly share this graphic of their impact. There is a lot to take in but it presented in an engaging and attractive way.

TBIF: infographics showing basic facts about BI's work

This tweet by Health Foundation responded to the Chancellor’s Spending Review. It clearly and simply illustrated their data. Unfortunately it doesn’t link anywhere for more information.

The Health Foundation: graph showing decline in government spending on health

Stats can often just come across as numbers. Shelter’s Christmas campaign focuses on the 100,000 children who will be homeless this Christmas. This tweet helps to illustrate what that huge number actually means. A giant 4 on a blackboard brings it to life.

Shelter: the equivalent of 4 children in every school will be homeless this Xmas

This JustGiving blog post on the power of infographics shares lots more examples and gives tips about how to produce them.

Other

Graphics don’t have to be professionally done or cost lots of money. Howard Lake’s graphic traffic course shares lots of great tips about using anything and everything to bring your data to life.

This BHF pie chart of a cake showing portion sizes is really clear and eye catching.

BHF: pie chart made from a pie

This hand-drawn image from John Sutherland, a Met Police Officer connects the reader with the issues on a human level. It generated lots of interaction including some very lengthy conversations as comments underneath.

Hand-drawn picture showing factors influencing a young man's knife crime

Top tips

  • Accessibility – remember that not everyone will be able to see your graphic. Include the data in the tweet or post in full or as a summary with a link.
  • Links – include a link so people can read more or take some action.
  • Source – check and reference the source for your statistics and third party graphics. Also think carefully about sharing sensitive data about live events. Get permissions or preserve anonymity where appropriate.
  • Use your assets – do you have graphics in print, someone in the team with lovely handwriting or drawing skills? Maybe you have other tools lying around such as lego or magnetic letters?
  • Check your sizes – use this size guide from Sprout Social.
  • Have fun and be creative!

Add your examples

Please add your favourite examples in the comments box. I am especially keen to find more count-up and creative graphics as I couldn’t find very many good examples.

Have graphics led to more engagement for you? How much time or budget do they take to produce? Have you got top tips for producing graphics on a shoestring? Please add your comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Can I help?

I help charities and non-profits with their content. Whether you are looking for training for the team, copywriting or  input into your content strategy, please get in touch.

Content Curation – how to use Storify and live blogging

Got a big social media campaign or event coming up? Or want to tell your story in a new but authentic way? You need to get up-to-speed with content curation. Here’s how to capitalise on all the great content, comments and good feeling around your charity.

What is curation?

Curation is a fancy way for describing how you bring lots of different assets together to tell a story. In the old days you may have written a press release or general page about what happened. Now you can show what happened by including the tweets, videos, links etc. The storytelling is more authentic as you are doing it through the voices of other people, not just your organisation.

Curation can be done manually through your blog or you could use free sites such as Storify or Pinterest.

Campaigns and awareness raising

Time to Change produced a live blog through yesterday’s massively successful #timetotalk campaign. It gave them a place on their website to collate and share all the news coverage, tweets, pictures and messages of support as the campaign spread.

Live blog from #TimeToTalk

Curation is a good way of collecting everything together after the campaign, to say thank you and to celebrate achievements. Take a look at this example from Girlguiding of their Say No to Page3 campaign. They used Storify to share messages of support for the campaign as well as links to the petition and press coverage.

Curation is also great for telling a linear story, ie this is what happened as it unfolded. A great example of this is Mind’s Storify about the #MentalPatient outcry last year. They produced it really quickly after the event so once the twitter noise had died down, the media had somewhere central to look for information.

Other inspiring awareness-raising uses of Storify

Selection of DiabetesUK Storifys

Events

There are lots of examples of charities using curation to gather content around a fundraising event (runs / cycles / jumps etc). These are great ways of connecting with the fundraisers doing the event as well as their supporters. Take a look at BHF’s London to Brighton Bike Ride 2013.

Events such as conferences, meetings, parties, lectures, galas are prime for curation. You can add so much value to an event by showing behind the scenes, what participants got out of the event as well as general comments and pictures.

SoundDelivery produced an excellent Storify of the Social Media Exchange, not just the usual collection of tweets and resources from a conference. It punctuated the sections with a couple of sentences giving context. They included video, photos, Vines and audio to bring the day to life. They also added links to other useful resources which had been mentioned on the day. It is quite long but it’s the kind of Storify you’ll go back to again and again for inspiration.

Grayson Perry’s Radio 4 Reith Lecture last year was a brilliant example of live blogging. Links, pictures and comments were all being added in real time alongside the 40 minute programme. It generated a rich experience.

Other curation examples

NCVO's Pinterest boards

Top tips for content curation

  • Have fun and be creative. You don’t always have to produce content which is related to your cause (for example Beat Blood Cancer’s Laugh for Leukaemia joke competition). Reward your supporters with content they’ll like.
  • Do you have any linear (success) stories you could tell? Think about Rethink’s Find Mike – this is perfect for curation as it started small, got lots of press and social media coverage and then had a happy ending.
  • Think about the stories and messages you have within your organisation, which would work told in this way? What assets (video / photos / comments etc) do you have which could be collected together to tell a story? Curating just tweets isn’t enough.
  • Does your audience use Storify (or other similar sites)? If you don’t know, ask them. Also look at how many views and followers similar organisations have if they are on Storify. If your audience are not there, would you reach more people by using your blog for curation?
  • Invite supporters to contribute. Don’t forget to tell them they’re included and ask them to share.
  • Be selective about what you include. It’s not curation if you include everything.
  • Devote time to get the skills within your team. Look at lots of examples to help you understand how you could best use curation.
  • Don’t underestimate how much time it takes. It’s hard to get it right.
  • Include a donate link / button if this is relevant (eg Save the Children’s Philippines response).

Don’t forget to promote your Storify channel (if you have one) prominently on your website. If you have share follow us / join us buttons Storify should be included alongside all your other social media channels (NB I didn’t find anyone doing this, even those with successful channels). People won’t follow you if they don’t know you are there.

Oxfam's share buttons on their homepage

Conclusions

Curation is generally free but time consuming. It takes practice to do it well but it is a great way of re-using content which has a short lifespan.

Further reading

Please do share your examples and top tips as a comment or via Twitter and I’ll add them here. There must be loads of examples of other museums or galleries doing interesting things with curation.

Can I help you?

Please also get in touch if you’d like me to help you think about how to use your content. I am a freelance web editor and can help you give your communications a healthcheck and ideas injection.

Make your errors useful

Error messages are so often given little thought when re-launching a website but actually they could be one of your most visited pages. It’s worth spending some time on them to get them right. Turn them into positive pages by making them sound like they were written by a person rather than automatically generated and making them useful, maybe even fun. Here are some examples of 404 (page not found) errors from big charities and companies.

404 – computer says no

No branding, robotic language (‘the requested resource has not been found’), assumption that it is the user’s fault (‘please ensure you have typed the address correctly’), no alternative links, this is a desperate, desperate place to find yourself. This charity’s error page could have been marginally worse if the heading had been in red.

The requested resource has not been found

A confusing error is sometimes worse. This example says error three times and gives a code which is meaningless to the user. We don’t know whether we are seeing this as a result of a technical problem or  a broken link? To ‘go back’ is the only option given.

error, error, error - repeated three times

Be helpful and approachable

WaterAid make it very clear what has happened (‘file or page not found’) and what they want you to do (email).
Page or file not found

Oxfam’s 404 works through some solutions (‘here are some tips which might help’) alongside a confused goat.

Oxfam - oops, sorry

The British Heart Foundation’s 404 starts with a sorry, has a please and lots of ideas for alternative destinations (presumably based on the most common interactions).

Lots of options on the BHF 404

Connect with your cause

RNLI’s error message connects the error to their strengths. They have a picture of a man looking through binoculars and text which says: ‘We’re sorry – we can’t seem to find the page you’re looking for. That’s a shame, as we’re usually quite good at navigation.’ Nice.

RNLI's we're usually quite good at navigation

Missing People’s 404 does something similar: ‘Page not found, neither is Thi Nguyen’ then full details about the missing person.

Page not found, neither is Thi

Add personality

Dog’s Trust have bags of personality online (see their brilliant fetch (rather than search) button). DT’s 404 page has a cute dog, friendly heading (‘Oops – this page isn’t here’) and a pointer to the site map and other links. Their technical fault is even better.

Error message from Dog's Trust - cute dog

Of course, animal charities have more potential to add personality / fun / cute pictures than say a health charity. Blue Cross say ‘Oooooops’ and have a snoozing cat. RSPCA say ‘Whoops’ and ‘Looks like a dog may have run off with that page. Sorry about that. Perhaps he’s buried the page out the back?’

A nice picture is a good way of brightening up an error page, even better if it’s of something relevant. Here, the BBC’s 404 page has gone retro with our old friend the clown dusted down from the 70s, now with 404 written on the chalk board – genius.

BBC error page - 1970s retro with clown

Lego’s 404 is just weird.

Lego gremlin pulling the plug

How do you match up?

Go check your error pages:

  • are they helpful?
  • do they generate a positive reaction?
  • could you add an image?
  • is the language clear and approachable?
  • are there clear links to get people back on track?

Think about what you can do to improve your user experience. Reward people for finding this ‘secret’ page rather than punishing them with an unhelpful, dull page.

While you’re there, check errors in forms. Are you nicely hand-holding to help people complete a purchase, enquiry or donation or SHOUTING AT THEM for making a mistake? (See previous post on donate forms for some examples.)

Want more?

If you need more inspiration for dull vs fun error messages, just do a search for 404 in google images or look at Wikipedia’s page on 404.

Comments?

I looked at hundreds of charity error pages in the interests of research and these were the most inspiring I found. Please do share your tips and favourite examples (good and bad). Leave a comment, go on.