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News & announcements 1,216 views Jul 20, 2016
Targeted support for small charity communicators

 

Jess is event planner for CharityComms, the membership network for communications professionals working in UK charities.

At CharityComms we recognise that smaller charities face different communications challenges. How can you keep up with developments and trends across different communications disciplines when you cover them all? Who do you turn to for input and feedback when you're the only comms specialist in your organisation? And how do you make time for strategy when you may be the only one around to deal with the day-to-day?

That’s why we’re delighted to announce the launch of our first dedicated small charities conference on 23 September. This will enable communicators from smaller organisations to connect with peers and access advice and shared experience on how to deliver comms impact with very limited resources. We’ve kept the cost as low as possible to make it accessible – just £80+vat for the full day for CharityComms members, £100+vat for non-members and £160+vat for corporate partners.

See the full agenda and book now

Understanding the comms needs of small charities

Last year, we conducted a survey of small charity communicators to help us better understand their needs. Here’s what we learned:

‘Small’ is a relative term

While the majority (64%) were from charities with income between £100k and £1m, 24% were at charities with over £1m turnover. A surprising 7% were from charities with over £5m turnover, but who presumably still considered themselves ‘small’.

The NCVO’s Almanac classes a charity over £1m as ‘large’. We’ve targeted our event where we feel we can provide the best support, crucially to organisations which have at least part of a role specifically dedicated to communications. So our ‘small’ charity category encompasses incomes from £100k to £2m, though we reckon any charity of any size with just one person (either full or part-time) doing all the comms work also fits the bill.

Training budgets are often the stuff of dreams

Two-thirds of our survey respondents depend completely on free support. A quarter had attended no learning outside the office in the last year, and 30 respondents (27%) had attended no training, events or networking at all. This included charities in all size categories, including over £1m. One in three said they learn via networking with peers.

Small charity communicators feel isolated

Many of the people we spoke to said they felt the lack of a peer group, or of colleagues who understood their work. Said one, ‘I don’t have anyone to bounce ideas around with. My colleagues expect mine to be the last word on communications.’

Skills are missing across PR and digital – and time is always short

The most frequently mentioned skills gaps were press and media relations, digital and social media skills and communications strategy, followed by the challenges of getting internal support, and of course, lack of time and resource.

Targeted help

We’ve developed the agenda for our small charities communications conference on 23 September in response to what we’ve learned, offering: 

  • Expert sessions on some of the key areas raised in our research: strategy, PR, digital, brand and more
  • Structured peer knowledge exchange using the Open Space model (sometimes called ‘unconference’ or ‘Birds of a feather’ sessions)
  • Inspiring ‘Lightning talks’ from small charities doing great comms work on a shoestring


What else does CharityComms have to offer small charities

  • The CharityComms website has extensive free resources, including best practice guides to social media, crisis communications and more, and we’re looking at developing an online directory signposting good quality free or low-cost online resources and training opportunities.
  • We’ve recently been awarded funding to provide free media training to small charities. More info on this in due course as we take this initiative forward.

Find out more about the CharityComms Small charities communications conference

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Get your charity’s voice heard by Duncan Hatfield