Lots of you have been asking about the launch of the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s charity interest group, which launched on Tuesday with a special event at Cass Business School. I’m on the advisory board for the group, which brings together professionals with an interest in charity sector marketing to network and share best practice. The event was packed out with a good range of people from large and small charities, social enterprises, other nonprofits, agencies and freelance consultants.
Georgie Feinberg , Founder and International Director of Afrikids, and Professor Ian Bruce of Cass presented at the event and you can see the tweets from the event on the Storify on UK Fundraising. Vicky Browning from Charity Comms and Paul Marvell from the Institute of Fundraising also spoke, and were keen to express their interest in collaborating with the new CIM group.
If you’d like to find out about the next event, tweet me @zoeamar with your email address and I’ll add you to the distribution list. I hope to see you there.
Speaking of good charity marketing, my campaign of the week is CSV’s volunteer champions campaign. The aim of the campaign is to celebrate the work of volunteers past and present across the UK and to inspire a new generation of people to volunteer in their communities. I like the story it tells of how CSV has made a difference over the last 50 years. Anniversary campaigns are tricky because they can fall into the trap of being overly nostalgic, but this is just the right blend of celebrating past achievements and a clear call to action for the future.
With charities and their marketing departments under pressure, it feels like a good moment to celebrate the impact that charities can have through their volunteers and to tell their stories. The best way to do this is through good marketing. As Georgie Feinberg said at the CIM event, “A really strong marketing strategy can pull charities through tough times.”
This week I shared some thoughts in Ben Matthews’ blog post ‘How to build a high performing communications team.’ Ben’s blog contains lots of helpful tips which are particularly pertinent at the moment as many charities are restructuring their communications teams, and are aiming to get maximum value from their staff.
There are three other ideas which I would add to Ben’s excellent crowdsourced tips.
One, if you’re leading a communications team, you should never stop learning, and inspiring the people who work for you to do the same. That can only come if you keep pushing yourself and re-appraising what you and your team do, encouraging everyone to do things even better and to learn from mistakes. It’s what I always aim for.
Two, motivating your team in such uncertain times, amid restructures and budget cuts, is a big challenge for communications leaders. So don’t forget the value of good old enthusiasm and passion when taking your team with you. It may be worth more than the extra zeros that you crave in your budget. This principle is just as important if you have to pull together a multi disciplinary team from across the organisation for a high stakes communications project. One of the nicest compliments ever paid to me at work was by a colleague who told me that I had ‘galvanised his team’ when leading a big marketing project.
Three, as the comms leader you need to be a hub of ideas, useful contacts and information within the organisation. For anyone seeking inspiration in this area, read Alex Swallow’s brilliant blog about spreading power. A good communications leader will do this externally, but you need to do it internally as well. In my experience this makes an enormous difference in the way that colleagues engage with your team’s work.
What are your ideas for leading high performing communications teams?
Following the terrible events in Boston yesterday, I began to think about how I would contact my family and friends if I was in similar situation, and how I could support charities helping in the disaster response, either by donating or volunteering.
So, I was interested to see that US based nonprofit tech whizz Amy Sample Ward (@amyrsward) posted about Microsoft’s Helpbridge app on Facebook last night. The app allows people not only to send messages to loved ones to let them know that they are okay when they are involved in a disaster, but also helps users to donate to charities working on the response, or to volunteer.
Two other great services are Google’s Person Finder and the Red Cross’ Safe and Well , which allow people to help locate the missing. These were both widely used after the bombs went off in Boston yesterday.
All of these services are obviously useful to charities involved in disaster response or who may find themselves or their beneficiaries caught up in such a situation. Devastating as these events are, it is some small comfort that we have these digital tools at our disposal.
My thoughts are with those affected by the bombings.
Hands up if you’re going to Media Trust’s Go Mobile conference.
Matt Collins wrote a great blog this week on 5 ways charities should go mobile which contains lots of useful tips. It’s a subject close to my heart as I’ve blogged before about why charities may be missing out on opportunities to make the most of mobile. I’m a firm believer that charities must embrace mobile urgently if they haven’t already done so.
The Go Mobile conference looks great and I was interested to read about the closing keynote from Dan Calladine, Head of Media Futures at Carat Global Management , in which he will urge charities to ‘look … beyond distinctions of ‘mobile internet,’ and ‘mobile users.’’
This really struck a chord with me. I think that mobile is often talked about as if it is a completely separate channel, rather than one of many. Let’s look at how we all use mobile. I suspect that, like you, from morning to night, my mobile rarely leaves my side. It is completely integrated into my life. And I expect my experiences with it to be seamless. If I look at an email newsletter on my phone and click on a link, I am surprised if the site is not optimised for mobile. I expect to get SMS reminders about GP appointments and deliveries. I often watch TV whilst tweeting about it.
I’d recommend that any charities looking to make the most of mobile start with the very personal relationship which we all have with our phones. I can’t be the only one who says of my phone ‘it’s got my whole life on it.’ Charities have amazing and powerful stories to tell. Whether it’s through fundraising via SMS, text updates for supporters or mobile optimised content, mobile offers charities a unique opportunity to truly connect with people. It’s the ‘do- anything’ platform. How exciting is that?
NPC ran a very interesting event this week on the topic of whether the charity sector is weathering the storm, featuring presentations from Ben Page, CEO of Ipsos Mori, and Diana Tickell, Executive Director at Barnardo’s. I didn’t attend, but followed the event on Twitter. You can view the Storify of the event here and read NPC’s blog about the event here.
The above tweet from CFG about the event caught my eye. It’s a great summary of how communications can help charities, and why it is vital for the sector in these incredibly tough times.
I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot lately as part of my role as an advisory board member for The Chartered Institute of Marketing special interest group for the voluntary sector. I’ve got lots more to say about it as we get closer to our launch event in May, so watch this space.