Category Archives: Charity blogs

Our favourite charity chief exec blogs

Hot on the heels of this year’s Social CEOs list from our friends Zoe Amar and Matt Collins, we’ve been thinking about the role of the beloved blog. There’s no doubt that an effective blog, well-written and well-maintained, can provide an excellent platform for chief execs to connect with potential funders and partners, demonstrate expertise to influencers, and inspire and thank staff and supporters. There are some great examples out there, through which leaders are able to demonstrate their personal take on the issues they represent and the work they do, in a way that adds passion and personality to their organisational brands. We’ve rounded up a few of our favourites here, some of whom feature on the Social CEOs list thanks to their blogging but also their wider social media activity. Tell us who you think we’ve missed!

And if these examples inspire you to get started on your own blog, or perhaps revisit one you’ve left dormant, you might want to read our blogging tips on KnowHowNonProfit.

Taking Action: Deborah’s Blog

Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, writes a fascinating blog about all aspects of the charity’s work, and her personal commitment to the cause. It charts everything from Deborah’s fantastic feats of fundraising (complete with incredible photography) to emotional accounts of friends who have lost their battle with the condition. A powerful reminder of the importance of the work we all do, and the value of both words and deeds.

Deborah

Frances Crook’s Blog

Writing in her role as Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Frances Crook regularly shares brief, clear insights on the world of penal reform from the corridors of power to newspaper headlines. Her blog is tightly focused, providing a strong platform for engagement with the issues of the day and helping to crystallise the charity’s position on key topics.

Frances

John Burton’s Green Diary

As well as highlighting the World Land Trust’s work and responding to wider sector issues such as negative headlines about charity fundraising, John discusses his own personal challenges too, including blogging about his cancer diagnosis.

John

Bubb’s Blog

Not only a Chief Exec himself, but also a representative of many others, Sir Stephen Bubb’s blog provides an insight on the moving and shaking at the top levels of the voluntary sector and its dealings in Whitehall.

Bubb

 

 

 

 

DOES YOUR CHARITY NEED MORE FACES?

Camila Batmanghelidjh’s primacy in Kids Company’s work and its relationships with funders has seized much of the spotlight around the charity’s tragic demise. Her organisation was, as one commentator put it, ‘synonymous with her image’.

Having a founder at the helm for a long time can be problematic in many ways, most of them far from the extremes reached by Kids Company, but there are nonetheless lessons to be learnt from this high-profile example.

Founders or long-standing chief executives naturally have a strong sense of ownership over a charity’s vision, direction, and the means of achieving it. They are often intimidating forces – that’s why they’ve been in post for so long of course – and the organisation will naturally be grateful to them for getting it to where it is today. They will most likely hold a lot of the strings, and a lot of the relationships that are intrinsic to operations, be they with funders, partners, or influencers (including journalists and politicians). All this can and does deliver huge benefits for a charity, but a tipping point can be reached when those benefits are counter-balanced by the limitations they place on things, and the risks they pose for the future. Even if your founder or chief executive is doing an amazing job, and you just want it to carry on forever, it won’t, and there’ll come a day when you need to be able to rely on other faces for your organisation.

Clearly responsibility for addressing these issues sits primarily with trustees and senior management, but responsibility for managing the face of your organisation sits with communications. If your leader is in danger of swamping your charity’s brand, if your organisation’s name has become inseparable from the individual, communications has a fundamental role to play in mitigating the associated risks and creating a better balance.

There are lots of things you can do to add more faces to the charity, starting with identifying those from across the organisation who might be well-placed to hold strong associations with the brand. Commonly, these will include members of the senior management team or department heads who have strong specialist expertise or interesting personal connections, trustees with particularly strong profiles, senior staff, and even service users and volunteers to some degree.

Here are a few of the things that work particularly well, all of which offer broad value for your organisation while also helping you address the implications of your leadership issue.

  • As a minimum, make sure a range of senior staff and trustees have their own professionally-focused social media platforms, and are using them to the best value for the organisation. They should be as well connected (or almost) as your chief executive.There’s some great advice on engaging trustees available on CharityComms.
  • Make sure you have a range of ‘expert commentators’ or spokespeople profiled in a media centre on your website, so journalists and producers can be more easily convinced to talk to someone who isn’t your chief exec or founder.
  • Invest in training for those spokespeople, so you and they feel confident taking up interview opportunities when they arise.
  • Place staff profiles in professional and special-interest media (also a great way to boost recruitment and staff morale!).
  • Embark on a concerted thought leadership programme to put senior experts from across your staff team into the spotlight with speaking opportunities, by-lined opinion pieces in relevant media, webcasts and blog posts on your website, Q&A sessions on Facebook and so on.
  • Build a strong case study library to allow you to push the stories of individuals and families (not just beneficiaries, but volunteers, fundraisers, partners and staff members) to sit alongside comment from your go-to spokesperson, helping to widen the sense of what you do.
  • Establish and promote a service user council. This can act as a great vehicle for telling the stories of engaging and engaged individuals on the other end of your work, who are playing an active role in governance.

All this has value not just in the extremes of dominant leadership, of course, but also as good practice for succession planning. Wherever you are along that path, don’t leave it too late, and don’t underestimate your job within it all as a communications professional.

KEEP CALM AND ENGAGE!

Every cloud has a silver lining, right? But those linings are a bit trickier to find since the election result in May left a lot of charity’s plans and projects looking shaky, if not completely shelved.

When budgets are being cut, service pressures growing, and grants and contracts threatened, it’s only natural to want to bunker down and focus on fighting your own corner, protecting your patch, and getting the job done. But this response, while seemingly pragmatic and efficient, holds significant risks in breaking down the strength that lies in partnership working, engagement and collaboration that exists across the sector.

It can be easy to dismiss those talks you were having with another charity working with the same client group as a luxury you don’t have time for now. It’s understandable if the idea you had for a joint campaign with a like-minded organisation seems too much to handle at the moment. But these are the things that build strength, resilience and influence in the not-for-profit sector, which help amplify voices and spread best practice. Communications is both a vehicle and a driver in many of these situations, so we’d urge comms professionals to work hard to make the case for stakeholder engagement, in all guises, as strongly as possible in these difficult times.

At Amazon we know that inspiration, motivation and energy are just a few of the essential ingredients the voluntary sector is so good at supplying, and we don’t want to see them diluted by a bunker mentality. Remember, strength in numbers!

MISSING PEOPLE LAUNCHES EYE-CATCHING FUNDRAISER ONLINE

After the phenomenal success of the MND Association’s social media campaign to engage the Care Minister, Norman Lamb, we’ve been keeping a close eye on charities’ online activities.

Missing People, the charity that searches for individuals who are missing and offers support to family and friends, has launched #MissForMay. It asks supporters to give up a much-loved treat for the month of May and be sponsored or donate the money saved to Missing People.

The beauty of this campaign is its simplicity and how well it combines the fundraising ask with the charity’s key messages. Firstly, the premise of missing your trip to the coffee shop or the after-work glass of wine is something we can all engage with. It also helps to bring home the idea of missing something (and indeed someone) for much longer, which taking part in the campaign will help to alleviate or even resolve for thousands of families across the UK.

Brilliant additions to the workings of #MissForMay are the ‘medals’ you get for making it through a treat-free week. These are widgets for your Facebook page and Twitter feeds that not only give you a feeling of reward (very important in supporter retention!) but also spread the messages of the campaign more widely. It also involves a #nominate hashtag so participants can share the self-denial and get friends to join in, again, spreading awareness of the charity and the campaign’s key issues.

The Cheat Token is a fantastic idea and allows you to indulge for a £10 text or a payment in the old fashioned Cheat Box where you pay for your sins on your desk! But for the parents amongst us our favourite fundraising tool has to be the option to #Muminate your kids on Facebook and Twitter. Genius. We may have to steal this idea for our own domestic purposes once May is over!

This campaign has real charm and is extremely well thought-through. It is relevant and appropriate for every age group and the tone is fun and encouraging. The case study on the website has been carefully chosen to have an appropriately positive tone yet a link to a blog below it gives you access to the more sombre roots of the campaign.

It’s a shame that the only information on Missing People’s homepage is on an image carousel so if you don’t hit it at the right time, you might miss it. But it’s inspired us so much that signing up may be our only option. The mid-morning pain au chocolate’s days are numbered!

 

TOP OF THE BLOGS: THREE NEW ENTRANTS!

Last month we posted a round-up of our favourite blogs. Thanks to those who got in touch to recommend some we’d missed – here are a few additions that now feature among our regular reads.

WonkComms

Communicators working within research bodies and think tanks share their practical experiences and debate the hot topics relating to the sector. The blog is connected with a LinkedIn Group, Twitter account and Pinterest boards.

WonkComms

One Swallow Makes a Summer

Alex Swallow is Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition and Founder of the Young Charity Trustees network. His blog brings the challenges faced by small voluntary sector organisations, and their amazing achievements, into sharp focus, as well as highlighting wider charity issues and projects. It is a great blend of the professional and personal.

Alex Swallow

Kirsty Marrins

Digital communications consultant Kirsty Marrins has worked in the charity sector for seven years and has recently set out into the world of freelancing. She is a great source of insight on all things relating to the ever-shifting world of social media.

Kirsty Marrins

Read the rest of our blogs round-up here.

NO PENS DAY WEDNESDAY

An event on 9th October to get pupils putting down their pens and picking up their language! Help us reach as many schools as possible!

A GUEST BLOG FROM THE COMMUNICATION TRUST

No Pens Day Wednesday is a national speaking and listening event run by The Communication Trust. The event is now in its third year and is more popular than ever with over 1,900 schools already signed up to take part.

We’re working to make sure this exciting, engaging and impactful event reaches as many schools as possible and are asking for your help to spread the word about it.

A bit more about No Pens Day Wednesday…

No Pens Day Wednesday (NPDW) encourages schools to focus on the importance of speaking and listening in every lesson by supporting them to plan a whole day of lessons that don’t involve writing!

NPDW is fun and engaging for pupils but also gives them a really valuable opportunity to develop their communication skills and use them to support their learning.

NPDW 2013 is taking place on Wednesday 9th October- just 3 weeks away!-and we already have over 1,900 schools registered to take part!

Once they’ve registered on our website schools can access the brilliant range of free resources we provide to help them get involved and make the most of their day.

Exciting resources for 2013 include:

  • 2013 activity pack
  • A lesson planning outcomes matrix
  • New activity ideas for primary and secondary
  • Using photographs to stimulate speaking and listening
  • A brilliant NPDW display poster for schools and one to send home to parents
  • 5-minute lesson planner templates

NPDW and the media

As well as all these great practical resources to help make planning the day as straightforward as possible, we provide a host of fantastic media and marketing support resources to help schools shout about the great work they’re doing to improve children’s speech, language and communication.

We provide:

  • Media toolkit
  • E-comms tookit
  • Draft press release
  • Handy one-pager to help schools spread the word about their NPDW

These resources are all accessible once schools have registered and take them step by step through the things they might want to do to get people talking about their work.

If you work with schools and want to get them involved in a straightforward and really engaging project with great support to help them get both media attention and work to improve their approach to children’s speech, language and communication NPDW is here for you!

How can you help spread the word about NPDW?

So… now you know more about NPDW can you help us spread the word? If you work with any schools, parents, teaching organisations or other audiences that might benefit from getting involved with NPDW we’ve got two helpful resources to help you let them know about it:

  • A useful messaging document you can download here which contains loads of useful copy for your newsletters, websites, email contacts and social media sites to help you spread the word.
  • You can also circulate this one pager to any of your relevant contacts; schools, parents, teaching forums – anyone you think might be interested and want to get involved.

Help us reach as many schools and pupils as possible and get them putting down their pens and picking up their language on Wednesday 9th October 2013!

Thank you from all of us here at The Communication Trust!

Jo Bolton is Project Officer at The Communication Trust 

TOP OF THE BLOGS

As you may be aware, the internet has got rather big. It can be difficult, despite the best efforts of the search engine spiders, to decide what’s worth reading and what’s, well, not. So we thought we’d help by highlighting some of our favourite blogs dealing with the things we care about – social and environmental issues and good communications (gardening, books and crafts are another matter, not to be tackled here!).

If you have other recommendations (or if you think we should have mentioned your blog!) tell Kirsty at kirsty@amazonpr.co.uk.

Our picks:

CharityBloggers

For some great tips on what NOT to do, as well as some ideas for what works well, go to the CharityBloggers site. Here, more than 30 different bloggers regularly share their views on charity mailings and appeals.

All the contributors have a vested interest in the charity sector, but their knowledge and understanding is also gleaned from their various life experiences. One is an RAF officer who reads the Telegraph, used to teach chemistry and supports a number of charities abroad; another works in the City as a fund manager but is also the trustee of a small charitable trust.

Charity Bloggers

The Comms Insider

The brilliant and insightful Comms Insider is written by an anonymous comms professional working at a UK charity. This sometimes scathing blog lifts the lid on the frustrations of life in the not-for-profit world.

It’s hosted on the Charity Comms site. It may not be called a blog anymore, but the  Knowledge Hub, featuring interviews, articles, and how-tos on everything from crisis management to mentoring, is a great resource (and features expertise from our very own team!).

Charity Insider

Zoe Amar

How innovative is your innovation? Are your online tools meeting your offline targets? Marketing and digital comms consultant (and new mum) Zoe, asks all the right questions and achieves a nice mix of discussion and practical advice on her blog.

Zoe Amar

Janet Murray

Education and social affairs journalist Janet Murray writes a great blog linked to her media training consultancy, Last Word. Recent topics include handling a disagreement with a journalist (!) and how to develop a successful story pitch.

Janet Murray

Guardian Professional Networks.

Vital communities for many are The Guardian’s professional networks, which boast a range of excellent sector-linked blogs, featuring a host of writers. We particularly like:

Guardian Voluntary Sector Blog

Guardian Social Enterprise Blog

Guardian Social Care Blog

Guardian

ClearlySo

The social capital experts at ClearlySo offer a great way to stay up to date with all the latest developments in the world of social business and enterprise.

ClearlySo

Third Sector

The well-used Third Sector blog is a platform for the views of charity experts and practitioners, as well as the magazine’s editorial team.

Third Sector

PR Moment

PR Moment contains a summary of Good and Bad PR highlights – worth a quick read while the kettle’s boiling – as is the PR ideas of the year.

PR Moment

Allison Ogden-Newton

And lastly, for now, Allison Ogden-Newton offers some thought-provoking articles on social enterprise, public service delivery and life as a charity CEO, drawing on her roles at the World Child Cancer and the Transition Institute.

Allison's blog

Let us know what you think and share your blog suggestions with us @amzpr.