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Charity Communications – why they matter & when to use a consultant

Charity Communications – why they matter & when to use a consultant

July 2015

by Julian Demetriadi PhD FIH MHOSPA


What is the point of charity communications?                               

  • Provide information to beneficiaries and users of charity services
  • Market charity products – courses, publications, resources, branded items & memorabilia
  • Lobby and campaign on relevant issues
  • Inform targeted audiences about your work
  • Thank and update donors
  • Prove to future donors that you are worthy of their support – news, financial management, who else is supporting the charity
  • Receive unbiased editorial in the form of news items, feature articles or media comment

How is it done?

  • Think simple first: phone, letter, email
  • Banners, fliers, brochures, publication inserts
  • Targeted and general newsletters (including e-communications) – to donors, beneficiaries, public
  • In-house magazines
  • Advertising/advertorial
  • Editorial/media conferences
  • At charity and community events
  • Press releases and follow-up
  • Podcasts and video presentations
  • Blogs, Tweeting, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media

Who does it?

  • Chief executive and programme heads
  • Trained and specialist staff
  • Volunteers
  • Consultants

Why would we use a consultant?

  • For impartial, honest, bespoke advice on what needs to be done for your particular charity
  • To give your charity the benefit of a comprehensive media distribution list (e.g. Cision) that includes all trade, provincial and national media
  • To establish the credibility of your charity
  • To impart to staff and trustees an understanding of what constitutes a good news story, feature article, and general media opportunities – whether for print, social media, or TV and radio
  • To put together a communications programme (including all relevant social media) and train new or current staff members, whenever they lack the skills for a particular communications project
  • To assist in the launch of a new or short-term campaign (e.g. capital campaign, emergency funding)
  • To give a professional introduction of new projects/programmes and staff – especially more senior executives, programme directors and new trustees – to internal and external constituencies
  • For immediate, expert communications support during an external crisis – e.g. safeguarding scandal, public employment dispute, loss of major funding, significant change in strategy, headquarters move

Things to look for in a communications & marketing consultant:

  • A strong rapport – it is vital for you to have confidence in your consultant and feel free to have frank exchanges with him/her
  • Experience, honesty, and enthusiastic references
  • The ability to listen and a willingness to ask you hard questions
  • A working knowledge of the latest and most effective forms of communication
  • Someone who does not make grandiose promises for which there is no guarantee of success, such as filling every seat at your event or increasing attendance in your programmes by an unrealistic percentage. Rather, a consultant should be using his/her skills to identify and implement the correct method for each communications objective that you have mutually agreed
  • Also make sure, when hiring an agency, that you are comfortable with the staff member assigned to your charity

© CommunicationsPoint Ltd 2015






















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