Charities should put the voices of the people they support front and centre – here’s how to help them tell their stories online
Championing the voices of service users is a proven and effective way to help charities put a spotlight on the great work they do. Even if your cause is not a strongly emotional one at first glance, or you support people in an indirect way, there will always be people out there who your work has touched.
The focus on ‘lived experience’ in the charity sector in recent years has meant putting user voices at the heart of how charities run their services and build digital platforms. This can extend to the way they communicate, too, giving power to the very people your charity aims to help.
Weaving beneficiary voices and stories into your charity’s digital campaigns can:
What do we mean by including beneficiary voices? While they can be a powerful communication tool, this is about more than just highlighting statistics from groups of people you help. It means going beyond the figures to let individuals tell their stories in their own words, putting a real face to issues and giving genuine insight into the impact your work has had on their lives.
As much as you can, let people lead the conversation and showcase their own creativity. Whatever you do, just ensure you have explicit consent to share people’s content and always follow your organisation’s procedures on safeguarding in communications. Be vigilant of the mental and physical well-being of participants at all times and put them first.
Written case studies and quotes are great for people browsing your website, but there’s so much more you can do online. Why not use multimedia and social media to give service users a platform to share their personal story?
CARE France’s ’Stories from the other side of the world’ is a powerful look into the lives of seven women in different countries living in poverty, who use Instagram Stories to post about their daily life and an honest glimpse into the ups and the downs.
Young Epilepsy Society have done an amazing job of putting their young service users in the spotlight, creating their own video and social content, and hosting Instagram takeovers. The latest series of vlogs sees young people filming their own insights into what they do to stay positive during COVID-19.
Mental health charity Young Minds features guest blogs on their website from young service users and their parents and carers facing a wide range of mental health challenges, sharing advice and personal experiences. The blog posts are honest and relatable, helping to break the stigma.
The Stroke Association’s video features Zoom interviews from a stroke survivor during lockdown, coupled with that of a support worker, as part of a video explaining the importance and impact of its service during times of increased isolation. It makes for a moving watch.
Ramblers the walking charity helped people get out and about and build connection during lockdown, encouraging people enjoying the UK’s natural spaces to share photos of their outings on Twitter under the hashtag #RoamSweetRoam and help others to benefit from walking.
If you have service users with talents, why not use them? In an incredible showcase of service user creativity, disability charity Scope gave to keys to its Twitter account to sight impaired illustrator Sam Schäfer for a day. His entertaining look at life via his artwork smashes stereotypes and gives representation to the diversity of people with sight conditions.