My first conference with Charity Comms was everything I needed it to be. I’d followed their social media account for a while, was consistently keeping up with the hashtags of the latest events – but it wasn’t until late summer that I got my membership in place. The Small Charity Conference was an ideal starting point – especially as a team of one. It was fantastic to be a room filled with people in similar working situations to me, who completely understood my frustrations and could articulate them so well. What I also loved most, was the underlying theme throughout the whole day that STORIES are the best way in which all of us should be communicating our charities impact. And I loved that.

Below are some haphazard notes and tweets from throughout the day. I hope you enjoy.

The Lightning Talks

Finding Your Voice in a service-oriented charity
(By The Advocacy Project – Judith, CEO)

  • People won’t fund you if they don’t trust you. And they won’t trust you if they don’t KNOW you. – This is why #charitycomms is important!
  • Focus on the user VOICE, not the services
  • Find service users, staff, volunteers, beneficiaries to communicate FOR us
  • Can be cost effective as well as values aligned very easily

Stories over Stats –
(By The Trussell Trust – Ewan Gurr, Scotland Network Manager)

  • As soon as you say “Imagine this…”, you encourage your audience to visualise the story more clearly. It gives the context and image of the kind of people that we work with and the work that we do.
  • If you can get into someone’s heart you can get into their pocket – wink, wink
  • Stories over statistics, names over numbers, faces over figures
  • Stories are the strongest communications asset we have
Communications Matter –
(By Youth Music – Sophie Appleby, Communications Manager)

  • They merged communications with fundraising – Not sure I agree with this for a charity our size, though!
  • Doing the same work but speaking about it differently and more clearly
  • Putting the stories of case studies at the forefront – taking out the jargon.
  • Produced 18 strong 1,000 word case stories that they use and adapt

Raising Your Online Game –
(By Equation – Chloe Cheeseman, Campaigns and Marketing Coordinator)

  • User focus website redesign on a ‘budget’
  • Up to £12,000. Recruit web designer and UX designer at a discount –  That is still £12,000 more than a lot of small charities have to invest in their websites…
  • Look at competitors site, look at your users and their needs, create the personas, choose testers for these personas

Breakout Sessions

Session 1 – Communications Strategy (w/ John Grounds)

  • Integrated Comms – Brand, Strategy and Narrative
  • The leadership of the organisation (CEO/Directors/Exec) need to lead a CLEAR strategy, this then informs the Comms Strategy. Without a strong Org Strategy, how can you deliver a sound Comms Strategy?

Session 2 – Making the most of the media (w/ Namrata Chowdhary)

  • People hear (and see) what they want to hear (or see)
  • Authenticity, Audiences and Audacity – A fine line between all of these, and all are important
  • Recognising the media outlets that will have the right reach for YOUR specific output.
  • STOP thinking of your story as boring to a broad audience and think of it as VERY interesting to a niche audience – and then target them specifically.
  • Build up a relationship with a journalist by sending them relevant press releases to their job role

Session 3 – Website (w/ Bertie Bosredon)

  • Digital – It needs to be something so easy even an ‘old person’ can use it
  • It’s not ‘just a website’ – it’s your whole digital presence with all platforms and third parties included
  • PRIORITIES: – Mobile friendly, a good CMS and a strong donation system
  • Focus on Anayltics, Data transfer, Search Engines, Email, Social Media
  • Strategies: – Vision, Culture of the organisation, skills, processes, user engagement
  • Mobile Friendly: Why? Half+ traffic is on mobile, not always people ‘on the move’ either. Need to be able to see content clearly and make easy donations
  • You should be looking at Google Analytics at least once a week, not once a month or quarter. Set up your dashboard to see what you want to see easily.
  • Get a confirmation reply for a donation straight away, then a ‘thank you’ email, personalised and with a name the next day. It feels more real, especially if signed off by a person.
  • Have a strong thank you page (maybe a text box that says ‘what prompted you to donate today?’)
  • Make sure your website is fast to load (crop images to correct sizes)
  • Email is still the best channel to convert to the website
  • Ensure that users have to enter email to get pdf – to capture their data
  • Facebook is best social media platform for conversions

Closing Talk

Storytelling – Drawing on emotion (w/ Stephen Follows)

  • Three Truths About Stories – We all enjoy stories (deep down, on a primal level), stories affect us (we feel connected and personally involved), stories inspire action (far more than logic or reason)
  • When telling a story, think “would a cave person understand this?”. Tap into their primal needs.
  • Five Elements that make content more shareable:
    • Practical Value: Tap into your audiences’ inner caveman
    • Social currency: Make people look good when they share
    • Triggers: Tap into familiar items to trigger associations
    • Public: Being seen to share, and feel included
    • Emotion: When we care, we share
  •  Three Main Plots:
    • The Challenge Plot (David v Goliath)
    • The Connection Plot (Connecting across insurmountable barriers – Titanic, Shawshank, Lady and the Tramp)
    • The Creatvity Plot (McGyver, Home Alone, Die Hard)

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