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  • 16 Oct 2018
    Your charity does amazing things. You know this, we know this – but do your potential donors or volunteers know this? While it is true that we live in an increasingly visual world, it is important not to underestimate the enduring power of persuasive writing. It (literally) pays to spend time on crafting your copy. Your browser does not support the video tag. In this blog I give six essential copywriting tips to help you raise awareness and bring in funding for your cause. Know your audience Before you put digit to key, the most important question should always be ‘who am I writing for and why?’ We all care about different causes. In most cases our interests are dictated by our characteristics and life experiences. Think carefully about what demographic you are writing for and how best to engage, gain the trust and motivate this audience. Harness the power of human stories Mastering the art of emotional engagement is vital for any copywriter, none more so than for those of us working with and for charities. One of the most effective ways to do this is through focussing on human stories.  Try to find a simple, memorable story that encapsulates the work that your organisation does and the impact it makes (to a charity marketer this should be the holy grail). Whenever possible, try to include direct quotes from your beneficiaries or clients. This not only makes your copy more emotionally engaging but also helps to build trust with your audience. Choose your stats wisely While an excessive use of numbers may be a turn-off, carefully chosen and positioned statistics can both hook readers in and motivate them to act. Statistics can be used both to show your charity fully understands an issue and to succinctly convey the impact of your own work.   Keep it simple When we are passionate about a cause, it is tempting to tell people everything about the need for our work and the impact we make.  Equally, for lovers of words, it may be frustrating to be told to tone down your language. However, with attention getting shorter, complex arguments and florid prose are better kept for elsewhere. Ask yourself what your reader really needs to know and be ruthless with the rest. Spend time on your subject line We’ve all done it. Worked for hours honing our perfect piece of copy and then quickly cobbled together a subject line or title. However, as the tabloids have proven year on year out, a bold, controversial or catchy headline can make a huge difference. Infact, this is why professional headline writers exist! A good starting point when writing title or headline is to follow the ‘4 R’s’: Urgent, Unique, Useful, and Ultra-specific. Time and tailor your ask Think of each paragraph you write as part of your reader’s  journey, a journey that leads to your call to action. Charities too often describe their groups’ activities and then tag on a quick, loosely related call-to-action at the end. If we want people to donate, volunteer their time, or share our message, you need to consider when the most effective time will be to ask for their support (i.e. at what point your reader will be most motivated to act). Sometimes, this may be at the start to instill a sense of urgency; other times it will come towards the end after having made a robust argument for your cause. And remember, the call-to-action itself should be as  simple, persuasive and specific as possible. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Writing great copy will always be as much about magic as maths. However, following these six tips will go a long way to helping you attract the supporters, donors or fundraisers you need!    Was this blog helpful? Why not check out the following blogs too: 5 of the best free design tools to help your charity shine 3 Charities To Have On Your Radar For Social Media Inspiration
    7222 Posted by Lewis Garland
  • 19 Dec 2016
    On 16th December, to coincide with Local Charities Day, we released our second annual Local Charity and Community Group Sustainability Report. Using data from a survey of 598 local charity representatives carried out of the summer, this report provides a fascinating insight into the state of the local voluntary sector as we approach 2017. The last year has seen a continued escalation in demand for the services of local charities. Coupled with ongoing volatility in the funding landscape, this has left many groups fearful for their long term survival. The report finds that: Just 46% of local charities are confident they will be able to sustain themselves over the next five years. 67% of groups were still predicting stagnation or a downturn in their financial position over the coming year. 78% of groups predict an increase in demand over the coming year, of these groups just 18% feel that they are sufficiently resourced to meet this demand. Reductions in staff numbers pose a  serious problem, impacting on the continuity of services and affecting overall skill levels. 76% of respondents had seen a reduction of staff over the last year. 60% of respondents know of one or more local groups that have been forced to close in the last year. 77% of charities do not believe that they have the skills to run a successful fundraising campaign. Download the Full Report Here We conclude our report by laying out a number of recommendations for the coming year and beyond. We are particularly concerned about the urgent need to bring sustainable funding sources in the sector and to address the continued overreliance on under or unskilled staff. We hope that the results of this report will not only inform our own work over the coming year but also inspire other stakeholders in government, business and civil society to tackle the challenges facing the local voluntary sector.    
    6978 Posted by Lewis Garland
  • 09 Sep 2019
    The nights are drawing in, the leaves are colouring, the air is beginning to cool, children are yelling on their way to school, advisers are skulking in Westminster Hall, and it turns out your team’s big summer signing isn’t the new Messi after all. Autumn is officially here! Each season comes with its own set of fundraising opportunities. In this blog we highlight a few events for you to hang your fundraising hat on this Autumn. 22nd September (week of) - Harvest Festival This ancient festival (coinciding with the Harvest moon, the full moon closest to the autumn equinox) celebrates the end of the harvest season. Traditionally linked with charity, particularly sharing food, this is a great opportunity for poverty focussed charities and community groups to highlight their vital work. 27th October - Diwali Diwali, the 5 day Hindu festival of lights celebrates both Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and the triumph of good over evil (I’m sure we can find a fundraising angle there). This festival, celebrated by 1 billion people worldwide including Jains, Sikhs and Newar Buddhists as well as Hindus, gives ample opportunity for some South Asian themed fundraising fun – from food and fireworks nights to lantern making workshop. 31st October - Halloween  When the spirits rise with ghastly cries, and the maggots crawl from hollow eyes, and the hairy-legged spiders creep and the reaper comes to help you sleep… Halloween provides an excellent opportunity to hit those fundraising ghouls! This year the 31st is also (the latest) Brexit day - draw connections as you wish. Read our Halloween blog for some ideas to help you make a little money from the night of the macabre 2nd November - Day of the Dead Día de Muertos, a Mexican tradition celebrating departed ancestors, gets bigger and bigger each year here in the UK. Why not throw a Day of the Dead fundraising party – complete with  face-paints, sugar-skulls, decoration, libations, salsa rhythms and tasty tostadas? 5th November – Bonfire Night Remember, remember the 5th of November ...  Who doesn’t love wrapping up warm, writing your name (as if you write anything else) in the cool air with a sparkler, and watching the night sky come alive with colour? A stall selling hot food and drinks and marshmallow sticks would go down a treat! I hope these ideas give you some food for thought. Let us know about your group's autumn fundraising plans and, as ever, we’ll be happy to share your fundraising events and feats in our blog, newsletter and across our social media channels. 
    6885 Posted by Lewis Garland
  • 12 Jul 2019
    It is a known fact that the UK has seen a spike in youth violence, particularly knife crime, over the last couple of years. Sadly, the news has become all too familiar: another grinning picture of a lost kid, another grieving parent’s pleas for the violence to end, another youth worker discussing the impact of local government cuts, another politician with a soundbite playing to his or her agenda. Most of us, read these ‘by-numbers’ articles, feel a pang of sadness, anger or guilt – and then move on with our lives, much as we do when we hear about a famine or war in the global south. Sometimes however the reality of the situation is driven home a little harder. Last year a 16 year old was shot-dead one road from my house in Tulse Hill in South London. On this occasion it was impossible to ignore the deafening-silence of the neighbours and friends stood behind the police tape. Then, just a matter of days ago, my friend’s son, who is 15, was threatened at knife-point and interrogated about whether he had any gang affiliation. This happened just yards from his house - in broad day-light. My friend’s voice trembled as she told me that, what made this so hard was that this had happened in the very place that both she and her son had been brought up – the place they call home. Nowhere felt safe anymore. Like thousands of young people in London and across the UK, my friend’s son is now approaching adulthood in a state of fear and faces stark questions around how to remain safe in this environment. Of course, there is not single cause or single solution. The government, police and schools undoubtedly have huge roles to play, particularly when it comes to addressing the underling socio-economic issues at play. However, in many cases it is the people living and working in the affected communities who have the best understanding of the dynamics on the ground and therefore the best solutions for tackling these issues at the local level. At Localgiving we work with grassroots organisations across the UK who work tirelessly, to tackle youth and gang violence and its multiple causes. Many of these groups have been set up by people who have first-hand experience of these issues, some by parents of victims and some by former gang members themselves. These groups are embedded in their communities and are therefore, not only acutely aware of the specific dynamics of the situation in their area, but also find it far easier to gain access to, and the trust of those they aim to help. This is a particularly important factor, given that many of the communities most adversely affected by the uptick in youth violence have also experienced a break-down in trust with police and local authorities. The type and level of support offered by these grassroots groups varies considerably. Many services are tailored to the specific needs of the young people they work with and communities they work in. Some groups provide peer-to-peer support, some provide safe spaces for healing, some help secure safe, stable housing and provide their young people with training and education opportunities. One thing they all offer however is hope. Hope that there is a way out of the current cycle of violence and evidence of the tangible difference that people can make in their own communities – even when faced with the most painful and seemingly intractable social problems. Below are some of the amazing groups on Localgiving who work to tackle youth violence and its causes.  Jags Foundation (Croyden, London) Real Action (Kensington, London) St. Matthews Project (Lambeth, London) Aik Saath - Together As One (Slough) The New Cross Gate Trust – “carrying knives costs lives” campaign (London) Safe (Oxford) Newark Youth London (Newark London) Prospex (Islington, London) Copenhagen Youth Project (Islington, London) Lambeth Action for Youth (Lambeth, London) C2C Social Action (Northampton) Fitzrovia Youth In Action (Camden, London) Fast Project (Battersea, London) Sports4Health CIC (London) The Reasons Why Foundation (London) The Jan Trust (Haringay, London)
    5622 Posted by Lewis Garland
Tips & guides 2,988 views Aug 19, 2019
People Before Stories: Working With Beneficiaries' Narratives

The best charity campaigns are often based on beneficiary narratives. The personal stories of those who have been affected by the issues we address or who have benefitted from our support can be moving, inspirational and add a sense of real urgency to a campaign.

However, while these stories are elixir for us charity fundraisers and marketers, we must remember that they are loaned not owned.

In many cases our beneficiaries are highly vulnerable people, be it asylum seekers awaiting a decision or young people who have recently escaped gang life. Ensuring the protection and wellbeing of those people who have lent us their stories should always be our priority.

In this blog we look at some of the actions we can take to ensure that our beneficiaries and their stories are treated with the sensitivity and respect they deserve.

  • People before stories: Always begin by considering the level of need and life situation of the people whose stories we are telling. However proud we are of what we have achieved, or however perfectly their story fits our campaign goals, if the individual is in a vulnerable situation, or a focus on their past could have any negative impact, we may want to reconsider using their story.
  • Get (Informed) consent: People can only really be deemed to have consented if they fully understand what they are consenting to. We should ensure the people we are working with know how and where their stories and images will be used and that they are aware of any potential repercussions.
  • Use their own words: Being given the opportunity to tell your story can be hugely empowering. However, by equal measure, losing control of one’s story can be damaging.We should try to give our beneficiaries the platforms and opportunity to tell their own story, in their own words.  
  • Protect identities: We must think carefully about what measures should be taken to protect the identities of beneficiaries. Depending on the circumstances and vulnerability of the person we are working with, we may look at changing their names and voices or using actors or illustrative images.
  • Stay positive: The same story can often be told in different ways. Charity campaigns too often paint their beneficiaries as passive victims who were in need of ‘saving’. While the whole point of most campaigns is to show our impact – this should not be done in a way that dismisses the agency of our beneficiaries.
  • Remain media aware: If our beneficiaries are open to talking to the press is vital that we fully prepare them for interviews and that we accompany them if required. Moreover, we need to try to ensure that we only work with sympathetic, trusted journalists and media outlets. Whatever measures we put in place, there is always the potential to lose control of a story and we must be ready to react and provide all necessary support to our beneficiaries in these circumstances.

While working with beneficiaries’ stories, of course, comes with challenges – this should not prevent us using them. Not only are real-life stories more engaging and persuasive than anything we could produce from our desks but, I would argue, the ‘nothing about us without us’ principle obliges us to put their stories at the centre of our work whenever we can.

It is simply a matter of making this our mantra: people must always come before stories.

For more marketing and fundraising tips and guides, why not visit our Resources Page.