Charity Digital profiles four of the charity sector’s best online communicators, who are all excelling at meeting the challenges presented by COVID-19
Engaging and innovative online communications are vital to ensuring charities can convey key messages to their communities and audiences. But over the past 12 months, communication across web pages and social media site has been especially vital, with social distancing guidance amid the pandemic curtailing face-to-face communication.
Many charities have not only met the challenge head on but have excelled, providing exciting and effective online content to help their organisation fundraise, deliver services, and influence.
Each year the best communicators in the sector are honoured in sector body Charity Comms’ Inspiring Communicator Awards. We take a look at four of the winners, who are showcasing the power of online communication in the charity sector.
Alana Genge, who leads external communications at this Scotland-based mental health charity, was the mastermind behind the #WritingtoSayHello campaign.
The campaign encouraged people to connect with each other amid the pandemic by sending postcards with ‘hello’ messages and uploading them on social media to spread positive messages of friendship.
The postcards have been available to download from the Health in Mind’s website.
Over the weekend, why don't you take a break from screens, and spend some time writing to the people in your life that you care about? \uD83D\uDC8C— Health in Mind (@Health_in_Mind) August 7, 2020
Our #WritingToSayHello postcards are a lovely way to connect with others and can be downloaded from our website: https://t.co/NHJIogQxx1 pic.twitter.com/xtKlbRH6pr
This initiative “showed how using different communication methods can help overcome barriers”, said the judges. They added: “With a creativity that shines in everything she does, when faced with the loss of face-to-face comms Alana found innovative ways to engage people.”
Other online work by Genge has included managing the launch of the charity’s online mental health service in Edinburgh, called iThrive.
Inspiring Communicators judges were particularly impressed with the “unlimited pools of creativity” from Alissa Johnson, who joined animal welfare charity Mayhew as a communications assistant five years ago and now leads on digital communication.
She manages the charity’s social media accounts, in a role that has seen her help increase its Instagram followers from 6,000 to 29,500.
Among her online campaigns amid the pandemic has been the launch of an emergency appeal to support pet owners in need. This raised £10,000 for care packages for animal owners.
She also led a social action campaign encouraging people to learn about London’s feral cat population and “do their bit in looking out for them at a time when charity capacity is reduced”, said judges.
This campaign has reached more than 250,000 people, with more than 40,000 engagements on social media, and “has been vital to supporting animal welfare", according to judges.
Smart use of human-interest stories has also been key to Mayhew’s content. This included the story of two cats found taped up in a crisp box rescued by the charity. This Instagram post alone generated more than 2,000 views.
With offices closed and staff furloughed, charity workers are facing a challenging working environment. St Barnabas marketing and communications manager Amelia Chambers is no exception.
During the pandemic she juggled managing a team that had been halved by furlough, as well as home schooling her five-year-old child, all while leading the Hospice charity’s communications.
Undaunted, she has rapidly increased the charity’s social media engagement, receiving its highest every engagement on a single Facebook post, which reached 130,000 people.
Other work that impressed award judges includes cost saving ways of using digital to communicate. This has included converting the charity’s internal newsletters into videos for remote staff and revamping its annual impact report into a video format.
We are SO proud of everyone who has completed or is in the middle of their On Yer Bike challenge for St Barnabas Hospice! \uD83D\uDEB4\uD83C\uDFFC♂️\uD83D\uDEB4\uD83C\uDFFE♀️— St Barnabas Hospice (@StBarnabasLinc) July 15, 2020
Over £8,000 has been raised through JustGiving which is phenomenal! Check out the fundraising leaderboard here: https://t.co/xlZYQZdjBc pic.twitter.com/9ibRAYUYId
Chambers also handled promotion of the hospice’s digital fundraising appeal, supporting the charity’s fundraising team that had been impacted by furloughing. This included the creation of the ‘On Yer Bike’ sponsored cycling event that raised £22,000 and used the cycling app Zwift.
“Whatever is thrown at her Amelia will look at how a situation can be fixed as opposed to focusing on the negatives,” said the judges.
Communication has been crucial amid the pandemic to tackle the threat of isolation among remote working staff and beneficiaries, who are unable to access in-person support.
Among charity workers to keep staff and beneficiaries connected that has impressed judges is Lindsay Dalton, Head of Partnerships, Development and Training at Parents Against Child Exploitation (PACE).
She has been involved in developing remote visits and “embedding a system of continuous communication to reduce isolation”, said the judges.
Dalton has also been involved in developing online learning and to create “a wider audience awareness” of the charity’s work.
This has included being responsible for writing and filming a series of webinars about child exploitation. Her work has helped quadruple the number of delegates accessing the charity’s training to tackle child sexual exploitation.
Judges praised her “determination to ensure participants had the most visually engaging online training experience”.