Campaigning, influencing and better, more effective communication with stakeholders is a key priority for charities. The task can seem overwhelming, but the tools and processes we have summarised here will strengthen your organisation’s impact and help you to be more visible, current and transparent.
Guernsey charities have a wonderful platform in the local press and media which give them a strong voice that will make a difference to people in our community.
The experience of charities means that it is right that they should have a strong and assertive voice. Often they speak for those who are powerless, and cannot make their case themselves. Sometimes charities confront extreme social injustice, which they will want to tackle head-on. The work that charities do, and the major role they play in public life, is something they should be proud of.
Charity Commission, CC9 speaking out guidance on campaigning and political activity
Developing audience-focused communications that deliver a range of aims at the same time will result in stronger impact and greater outcomes for your organisation, but it’s not simple; even the language and support tools can feel confusing. We recognise that almost every organisation will somewhere on a journey towards a great communication strategy. We have brought together some of the key elements some that you may already have, others that you will want to refresh, and some that you may not yet have considered.
The Design Process
How clear is your message?
Does every part of your organisation, volunteers, staff, and the board, have the same understanding about what you do and how you do it? Do they use the same language to describe it? If ‘yes’, great. If ‘no’, you could create a “boilerplate” statement. A “boilerplate” is the organisation’s standard description about itself. It will include your vision, mission and key deliverables. It will be your ‘elevator pitch’ in those conversations where you have to succinctly describe what you do. A boilerplate statement should always be used when communicating with the press, when distributing information on social media, and when making bids and business proposals.
Tips on writing your boilerplate statement
- Collect all of your organisation’s historic statements and communications; consider what has changed and what you most want to carry forward.
- Do include any social media links. hashtags or straplines that you want associated with your organisation.
- Keep it short and succinct; be meticulous and self-critical.
- Don’t use jargon, don’t exaggerate, and never make statements you can’t prove.
Need help to define and develop your Mission and Vision Statements?
- How to define Inspiring Mission and Vision Statements
- Communications Planning template - Need help getting your message organised
- How to write a brilliant press release - Need help getting your message to the press
Useful tools and publications
Collect signatures for online petitions. Its free and simple to use and will help you both to raise awareness of your issue and gather momentum for your campaign.
YouTube Social Impact
Charities Programme helping you amplify your message using video.
Create your own designs, apply for a free charity account, upload your logo, fonts and brand colors and save your design budget for the really difficult things.
Plan your social media up to 30 posts in advance across all of your platforms.
Social Media Toolkit
Provides a grounding not just in fundamentals and tactics but also shares inspirational case studies from across the not for profit sector.
Charity Commission Guidance on Campaigning
There is some great information in this document, you will need to read around the UK Legal Guidance.
One voice, CharityComms’ Best Practice Guide to integrated communications, produced in partnership with GOOD Agency, is a practical guide to getting buy-in for integrated comms and how to roll out the practice across your organisation.
A template for you to commission design work, considering all of the possible questions ahead of time in order to get an accurate quote and lowest possible cost (It’s the changes that blow the budget).
How strong is your brand?
Your brand is your organisations identity, it probably includes your logo, the font and colours you use and even your strap line or mission statement if that’s something you use frequently.
So how strong is your brand? If you’ve no idea how to answer that question, check out this excellent and quick Brand Effectiveness Scorecard. It will create a visual report and let you know how well your Brand is serving your charity – indeed, you may learn that your brand is actively getting in the way of your success.
If you would like to create some brand guidelines, Inkbot Design have created a good summary. Brand guidelines tend to get overlooked, so creating tools that help people to stay on brand – thus ensuring that your organisation is presented to the world in a consistent and professional way - can be a really quick win.
Some practical shortcuts include using Canva a design tool with a free sign up for charities that will enable you to simply produce your own branded goods in house. It provides a wide range of design features including logo design and infographics as well as formats for social media.
Microsoft have a huge range of tools and support that will enable you to create business document templates, email signatures including Creating Power Point Master Slides, Business cards, Letterhead, Brochures, Presentations, or Labels.
Are You Social?
This guide takes you through all of the basics: what each of the different platforms and sites are, how to plan content, how to register, and how to start a conversation. The Next Steps guide will help you to think about campaigning, raising money, integrating your communications, crisis planning, and measuring success.
76% of all internet users are using some form of social media. More than one third of people already prefer using social media rather than the telephone for customer support, and most expect a response within an hour — if not faster. This trend is only likely to grow. Charities both large and small will need to scale up their communications at a time when they have fewer resources. Social media is one answer to that challenge.
Megan Griffith Grey, Head of Digital Marketing NCVO
“Being present is not enough,” says Charity Comms. “You need to be active, engaging and purposeful” In other words, know your audience and make a plan!
The Scouts took a healthy Facebook following of 30,000 and grew it to 70,000 truly engaged fans in six months with no advertising spend at all. The Scouts worked to plan content for each group they wanted to reach. Their reach grew over 1,000% because they stopped broadcasting messages and made an effort to really listen to their audience. With every post they learned more about their members, which made then able to produce better content.
One of the best content techniques they found is to ask members targeted questions and reflect the best answers they got back on the channel. It involves the audience and really makes them feel like part of the community.
Managing your social media
Once you have your social media up and running and a communications plan in place, you may find it helpful to have a single platform that enables you to publish your content across lots of social media networks at once. There are lots of options available, but Hootsuite with its free entry plan is a great starting point. They also offer discounted rates for non-profits if you decide you need greater functionality.
If you are using social media, make sure you have a social media policy.
Don’t neglect your website
Even though we are increasingly focused on social media, a great web site is still the key to promoting your organisation online.
The best charity websites have several things in common:
- They use excellent imagery and graphics to create instant impact
- They have clear calls to action, encouraging users to support the charity by making a donation, volunteering or signing a petition
- They have informative menu options, making them easy to navigate
- They have compelling stats and/or infographics to show the impact of the charity’s work
- They use a clean and clear design, without too much text
Ensure that your website is accessible to all
Every website owner wants to attract as many visitors as possible. In order to do this you should make sure that your website is accessible to all. There are over 13,000 people in Guernsey with a disability which could affect how they interact with your website. This could include impairments which are vision- or hearing-based, motor-skills which could make mouse and keyboard use difficult, or photosensitive and cognitive disabilities.
A simple checklist to ensure accessibility on your website:
- Can you navigate your using your keyboard alone?
- Does it work on mobiles, tablets and desktop computers?
- Is all content easily accessible?
- Do your images have descriptions (text will allow a screen reader to describe the image)?
- Are your forms accessible?
- Do you have a good contrast between foreground and background colours?
- Does your site ‘break’ when you increase the text siz
- Does your site work with a screenreader?
While designing your site for accessibility is hugely important, you should bear the same considerations in mind when creating content. Keep in mind that — just as your site should be usable by anybody — your content should be understood no matter who discovers it. This means paying attention to relatively minor things, from always fully writing out acronyms to making sure you give all your links unique descriptive names and anchor text.
Test the ‘understandability’ of your site by asking someone to look at it for 10 seconds and then asking them what your site is about.
The Foundation can arrange for Access Consultants to review organisations’ communications free of charge. If you would like more information, contact the Development Officer on 723426.
Campaigning with and for your stakeholders
Campaigning can, and should, be something that trustees consider as a means of achieving your charitable purposes. If trustees decide that they should campaign on a particular issue they should seek to do so effectively and accountably.
Megan Griffith Grey, Head of Digital Marketing NCVO
NCVO have produced a good guide to campaigning and influencing, and an excellent template to help you plan your campaign.
Developing audience-informed communications will result in stronger messages and greater impact for your organisation. There are lots of ways to gather views, from holding an event to sending out a survey.
How to create a survey
Who will complete the survey?
Before you write your survey, you need to know who will be filling it in. This could be:
- Members of your group
- Users of a service
- Everyone attending an event/course/activity
Persuading people to complete your survey
It can be difficult to get people to fill in surveys, so it is worth thinking about a few strategies to persuade people. Having a survey that is short and easy to fill will make this a lot easier.
Writing the questions
- Keep your survey as short as possible
- Only ask questions that you really need to know about
- Use clear and simple language - avoid jargon, slang or technical terms
- Put straightforward questions at the beginning of the questionnaire, and more sensitive or complex questions towards the end.
- Give options for “don’t know” or “not applicable” where relevant.
- Only ask for people’s names and addresses if you really need them, as asking for personal information may put people off completing the questionnaire. Any personal information you collect about people must be stored securely, and only for as long as you need it. For more help see GDPR in Guernsey.
Designing your survey
The layout and order of your survey will affect how many people take the trouble to complete it. Here are some tips to make a survey that is clear and easy to fill in.
Give clear instructions on how to complete it and how to return it to you. Say how long the survey will take to complete.
Test your survey on a couple of people and ask them:
- how easy it was to fill in
- if all the questions were clear
- how long it took them to complete
- if they understand the purpose of the survey
Will everyone be able to read and understand the survey?
There may be people who need the survey in a different format because, for example, they don’t read English or have a visual impairment. Consider offering people a range of ways that they can fill in the questionnaire, such as:
- With a volunteer interviewer
- With an interpreter
- Written in another language
- Written in large print
The easiest way to collect together all the responses is to use a website such as Office 365 Forms, Survey Monkey or Wufoo. Compare the packages carefully. Most offer a free package but they are very difficult to extract data from. Even if you have used paper questionnaires, you can enter the responses into a website and it will interpret answers or produce graphs and charts of your data, which will make it easy and quick to understand.
Managing a communications crisis
The third sector has seen its fair share of negative media attention over the last few years. Of course, this will never happen to you, but, just in case, here is a useful Guide to managing a media crisis Crisis Communications for Charities Charity Comms.