Small Charity Week – round-up of useful posts

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

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

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

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

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

Legacy fundraising

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

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

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

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

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

Involving people with ‘lived experience’

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

Comms processes

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

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

Small Charity Week

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

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

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

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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.

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