As I reflect on my years’ work consulting various charities throughout the world, here are some of the most important communication lessons I’ve learned.
- A good communication campaign should contain three elements:
A detailed Understanding of your audience
Who are your audience? Where are they? How old are they? What are their interests and what do they do for a living? The more you know about your audience the easier it will be to reach them on and offline. Please don’t say everyone as you will end up wasting money. Check your Facebook and Google Analytics to get a steer on all of the above. How does the data match your assumptions about who you need to talk to?
What do you want to do? Get campaign signatures? Raise millions? Change behaviour. It’s not enough to raise awareness (and I don’t really know what that means to be honest). Be ruthless about what you are aiming for and don’t stop until you get it.
Communications of milestones and outcomes
Think of No Make up Selfie and how CRUK constantly updated donors on how much they raised, ultimately reaching £8 million in 6 days. They also talked about what they would do with the money and how it would help them fund 10 new clinical trials.
- Communications can and should be used to maximize impact
As we begin to rely more on digital as a society then we have to move towards using digital comms to demonstrate impact in real time. Who really reads annual reports anymore? For example Street League have developed an amazing online impact dashboard which enables users to interact with real-time data about the young people it is supporting. It’s a really smart idea which I think shows the way impact report needs to go. It has to be a conversation with donors, not just broadcasting achievements. This has the added benefit of helped donors feel much more involved and emotionally invested in your cause.
- Fundraising will look very different in the future
Here in the UK, fundraising regulation has been reformed, and that plus the new GDPR regulations and an ageing population of direct debit donors means that charities are going to have to work harder to keep raising income.
However I’m excited about the possibilities. I think charities need to:
- Work out how to reach young people. Look at how Corbyn used digital channels to galvanise millennials during the election. The results were impressive: 59% of 20-24 year olds voted. 5% of the under 40s voting for Labour, Labour focused on positive, policy rich content, bringing 2.4 times more traffic to Labour’s site than the Conservatives attracted to theirs over the last 28 days of the campaign. Young people are hard to reach on social media as they are sophisticated consumers. They worked with influencers such as Stormzy and had an army of grassroots supporters developing content. I’d like to see more charities following these approaches.
- Look at how they can use bots. Donors want simple, informal, real time interaction with charities. For example, check out UNICEF’s use of these for U Report, designed to give young people a voice. This bot, on Twitter and Facebook Messenger, polls followers (called ‘U-Reporters’) asking for views on a variety of issues, with the aim of crowdsourcing ideas and experiences from young people. Its hoped that the data will assist in influencing policy. As far UNICEF has built a community of 3 million young people to do this.