A call to arms – tell your stories

Kid's drawing - two smiling people holding hands

As I write this, the world is shifting. The pencil marks (or pen marks) are still fresh on the papers and people are trying to make sense of the referendum result last night and what coming out of the EU means for us all. These are uncertain and scary times.

In light of the dark events of last week, Zoe Amar wrote We need social good more than ever now and this morning on Twitter I have certainly seen a call to arms from charity people rolling their sleeves up to take on the new dawn (see Stuart Etherington’s blog). Many are expecting a rise in demand and drop in funding.

We are already operating in tough times, having gone through the fundraising fall-out and media storm. This week Vicky Browning of Charity Comms shared some recent research from charity supporters and non-supporters – Developing a positive response to the public’s view of charities. It revealed issues of trust and described how the media has been focussing on shaming charity bad practice which often reflects the public’s own negative experience. The article calls for reform but also some collective response to communicating the impact of the sector.

NCVO and others are working on this. In the meantime there are ways that charities can tell their stories. Last month I wrote this post for Zurich Insurance’s charity blog about Challenging charity bad press. It looks at some of the vehicles for positive storytelling including Guardian Voluntary’s beautiful The day I made a difference.

Since I wrote the Zurich post, two more websites have been launched (Positively Scottish and Good HQ). And Jude Habib’s BeingTheStory event in September is selling fast suggesting that organisations ‘get’ that they need to be better at sharing their impact.

So, as we enter day one, week one, month one of this new world, let’s take charge. Let’s share our stories, our positivity, our love and the difference we make.


Since I wrote this, other posts on a similar theme have been written, please do read them:

And the Charity Commission published new research on public trust which says that levels of confidence are the lowest ever recorded. The report found that trust is based on transparency, good management and ethical fundraising.

The Scottish Charity Regulator produced similar research. OSCR’s infographic (PDF) of results tells a similar story of trust being damaged by negative media stories and concerns about staff salary costs, money not going to the cause and harassaing fundraising methods.

In response, Karl Wilding’s latest blog talks about how charities need to change their practises and what NCVO is doing to build a framework for talking about charities.

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How digital is your organisation?

Playmobil figures staring at a screen

A recent Guardian Voluntary Sector Network article by Zoe Amar argued that charity boards are failing to adapt to the digital age. And Karl Wilding argues on the NCVO blog that digital changes everything.

Some organisations already have digital at their core. Just look at how Parkinson’s UK advertised for their new role of Director of Digital Transformation and Communications. Whereas many know they should be doing more but don’t know where to start and others just don’t see digital as a priority.

Charles Handy at this week’s Cass CCE Charity Talk talked about the need for organisations to find their second curve to survive and in particular the impact of digital on this. He predicted that online platforms (such as Uber) will be central to the way we live our lives.

Two free resources this week look really useful to help organisations understand where they are digitally and improve their skills. Share them with your boards / Senior Managers / colleagues.

Measure and develop digital skills in your organisation

NCVO released a new free toolkit developed by Helen Ridgway. Building a digital workforce ‘includes templates, resources, tips and examples – and a series of bespoke workshops, training and support – to help you plan, design and deliver a comprehensive digital skills development programme for your organisation’. It is packed with 25+ documents including several about conducting a skills audit.

Also on my radar this week is the Third Sector Digital Maturity Matrix developed by Breast Cancer Care. It was developed to ‘to assess the maturity of an organisation’s digital capability (i.e. the current state) and compare it to where they aspire to be (i.e. desired to-be state)’. Download it for free.

What do you use?

Have you spotted any other useful resources? Or like NCVO and Breast Cancer Care, have you shared your own tools for other people to use? Please share in the comments below.

The social media divide

This week it’s all about social media. It’s social media week – wickid! There are lots of events and hashtags to learn from. I’ve been reading Visceral Business’ Social Charity Index of the top 100 social charities where they ask whether we have reached a tipping point where social is the new normal. And today, Zoe Amar launched her top charity social CEOs competition citing research which said that “eight out of 10 people are more likely to trust and buy from an organisation whose CEO and leadership team use social media.”

But there are still many organisations who are very far behind. The digital divide is wide. Many are not on Twitter / Facebook / YouTube etc let alone Vine, Storify or Pinterest. Some struggle to have an online presence. Some don’t even have email (one example I heard recently was of an organisation run by women who had to ask supporters to email their husbands’ work accounts).  So the barriers of kit, skills, confidence, time are still very real.

Yet the benefits are big. We all know that the opportunities for sharing what we do, connecting with others and learning through social media are great. Visceral Business’ Anne McCrossan wrote very clearly about the benefits for small charities.

So, what can we do? As digital natives we can share what we have learnt to help others join the party. Can you add anything to KnowHow’s social media how-to guides? They are wiki’s so we should all keep them up-to-date and start guides on new topics. Do you support organisations new to social media with a welcome or #ff / #ct? Could you mentor someone via CharityComms who is just getting started?

Next week I am running a FREE google+ hangout via Media Trust’s Grow Your Charity Online site. The webinar session is called Why Use Social Media. Please join me or help spread the word using the #gyco hashtag.

Let’s share the love.

Other reading