This week saw the 15th NFPTweetup and, as usual, it did not disappoint. A network of charity enthusiasts from across the sector, coming together to share knowledge and opinions, and inspire and motivate each other to think differently and try new things. I mean, what’s not to love?
There was so much that got my brain buzzing and I could write pages and pages of my thoughts on it – but for now I wanted to share a couple of my topline observations.
1) The “theme” for the Tweetup was content – and the speakers were talking about either how their organisation generates and uses content, or who they see in the sector creating good content. I came away with a really obvious observation: what set apart the examples we saw were their appropriateness and relevance. The info and stories that we saw examples of were “fit for purpose” and congruent with the audience they were aimed at. For me the starting point shouldn’t be “we have this good story, who should we tell it to?” but “what do we share with this audience to inspire them and engage them?”. Far too often, I think, charities rely on a story for whatever reason (“it’s a comms objective this year / people love it / I can’t be bothered to find another one”) rather than seeking appropriate new content.
2) Following on from that, the channel should be led by the content and by the audience. We saw a lot of great examples of people using the internet and social networks to connect and engage, and they work really well for those individuals in that way. But we shouldn’t stop working hard on the old ways too. Lesley Pinder held up Charity: Water as a fab example of engaging supporters by SHOWING them how their money helps. And they do, and it’s brilliant. Their videos are excellent. But shouldn’t we all be striving to impart that connection, that real world “look how you are helping” ethos into all of our comms? Sure, it’s easier to show that transparency, passion and commitment in a video – but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do so through more traditional channels – harder, yes, but not impossible.
3) Authenticity is crucial. On so many levels. Lucy from Childs I Foundation spoke to us about how she had set out on the journey of setting up the charity, and she was inspirational – and a massive part of that was because of her personality. Not just because the charity is awesome (which it is) and not just because the content was moving and meaningful (which it was) but because Lucy talked to us, from her heart, about her journey. Lucy struggled to work the slideshow at the beginning; she talked to us about being so nervous that she had lockjaw on the way to a meeting; she told us of her former life as a TV presenter working in reality TV and how that links in to what she does now (providing content that regularly engages 10million people is no mean feat, despite how sniffy some are about reality TV!). We warmed to Lucy because she wore her heart on her sleeve, and there is nothing more engaging than an amazing story told in a real and human way.
4) Passion is inspiring. Lucy epitomised passion when talking about her cause and so did everyone else up there at the Tweetup. One of the key reasons I have made the move to charity rather than agency recently is because I want to feel that passion. At an agency, I found too many things diluting that, and whilst I did care passionately about my work and the causes, I didn’t live them like I really wanted to and like I see so many others in the sector doing. I know that if I care, really care, about my cause, about the beneficiaries, and about the work, I will do a better job and I will engage and inspire people to give more. I KNOW that the cause is amazing but I’m fortunate not to have any close to home direct experience of the issues I now fundraise for, so the emotional resonance for me hasn’t yet hit. I really, really want it to. So my focus over the next few weeks is to learn as much as I can about the amazing work that my charity does; to look up real-life stories of the people who have been touched by it – survivors and the not-so-lucky; to find out other ways I can help (and by the way, drop me a line if you want to buy raffle tickets!!). If I can feel even a quarter of the connection that Lucy’s mum at Child’s I Foundation – who turned down a decently paid job to remain in her voluntary post at Child’s I) then I will be an infitely better fundraiser than I am right now.