‘Embracing Digital’ category added to Charity Governance Awards 2017

The Charity Governance Awards 2017 are now open for entries and a new category, ‘Embracing Digital’, has been added for 2017. This new category recognises charity boards who have successfully embraced the opportunities that digital offers, and harnessed them to innovate or improve its activities. And there’s £5,000 to be won!


There are seven categories in total and charities from all sectors can be in with a chance of winning one of seven £5,000 prizes of an unrestricted grant. Read all about last year’s Awards here.

To enter, a charity must have been established before 31 December 2013 and be registered in the UK. Charities may submit a single entry into only one of the following categories:

  • Board Diversity and Inclusivity
  • Embracing Digital
  • Embracing Opportunity and Harnessing Risk
  • Improving Impact – charities with 3 paid staff or fewer (including charities with no paid staff)
  • Improving Impact – charities with 4–25 paid staff
  • Improving Impact – charities with 26 paid staff or more
  • Managing Turnaround

The deadline for entries is 23.59, Friday 13th January 2017 so enter now.

The Charity Governance Awards are FREE to enter and shortlisted entrants will receive a complimentary invitation to the official awards ceremony in London on 24th May 2017. They are organised by The Clothworkers’ Company in partnership with charity think thank and consultancy NPC (New Philanthropy Capital), volunteer matching charity Reach, and recruitment specialists Prospectus.

Good luck!

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Charities should keep digital innovation at the heart of their approach

Ahead of the Institute of Fundraising’s Innovative Fundraising in a Digital World’ conference on Monday 3rd October Michael Docherty, Director of Digital and Supporter Experience, Cancer Research UK blogs about how charities should keep digital innovation at the heart of their approach. Having worked on Cancer Chat, I can attest that CRUK definitely has their finger on the digital innovation pulse. 

Over the past five years we’ve seen drastic changes in how people interact with digital things. The average person now checks their smartphone 85 times a day, spending five hours browsing the web and using apps. Google processes a mind blowing 40,000 searches a second; it’s fair to say we live in a digital world.

The third sector is as impacted by this digital world as any other sector. In just the last year Cancer Research UK has seen a 30% increase in single donations being taken through our online payment platform and mobile traffic has grown 35% and now makes up over half of all visits to our website.

This is a world where the pace of change is very fast, changes can bring upside or downside, and occasionally those upsides/downsides can be sudden and spectacular. #Nomakeupselfie and Google’s Panda Update are examples of both which have affected CRUK.

To keep pace with the digital world and to deliver the types of experiences that people expect, we’re organising ourselves to put our focus on the main things our audiences need to do with us. Through this focus we’ve been developing capabilities that can be utilised across the organisation in serving our audiences’ needs. Some examples of our capabilities include our ecommerce , online fundraising and online communities platforms, and our new schema enabled approach to content management.

Through our audience led approach, through our new digital capabilities and by working to up skill the organisation, we’re building an environment that allows our teams to be digital first. It’s this approach and framework that lets us be innovative, giving our teams the tools to quickly try different things whilst easily measuring impact and success.

Innovation is at the heart of our approach, and to ensure we are preparing ourselves for the future we’re exploring cutting-edge technologies and experimenting with them to understand how they can support the outcomes we are trying to achieve.

We keep track of new behavioural trends driven by technology in any sector, and we look for ways to apply trends to our objectives – particularly fundraising growth. As an example, given the decline of cash on the high street we’ve explored contactless payments. We’ve also seen market-leading digital organisations invest significantly in virtual reality and have subsequently been actively exploring how we can utilise the technology. These are just two examples of future income and engagement drivers that we believe charities must explore in order to keep meeting their audiences’ needs and remain relevant.

Keeping up with the digital world requires a culture where it’s possible to test and learn, and crucially, acceptable (and dare I say it, desirable) to fail. The way we make it OK for us to fail is to do it cheaply, and ensure we learn quickly so that we aren’t making the same mistake twice. This is helping us grow towards becoming a more digitally mature organisation, where everyone has a responsibility and commitment to be innovative and put their audiences first – and we think that’s helping us keep pace with the ever changing digital world.

Michael will be chairing the Institute of Fundraising ‘Innovative Fundraising in a Digital World’ conference on 3rd October – are you on board with the changing digital world?

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Top tips for social media

This month I was delighted to be invited to present two social media workshops. The first was at Trading Aces which was organised by Andy Brady,  head of learning and research for charities & social enterprises at Anglia Ruskin University. The second was at the Small charities communications conference in London, organised by CharityComms.

The workshops were fun, although challenging! When you only have an hour, it’s tempting to try to cram in as much as you can but I focused mainly on Facebook and Twitter and tried to give practical and actionable tips for a range of expertise levels. As an accredited trainer, I would usually spend half a day to a full day focusing on social media (and even more if I could) so having just an hour was interesting! I had some really great feedback straight after the workshops and a few emails too so I’m delighted they had a good response.

As part of the workshops I put together a Ten Top Tips for Social Media handout, which delegates could take away with them to stick up at their desk. Download your free copy by clicking on the image. I hope you find it useful!


10 Top Tips for social media

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Congratulations to the Third Sector Awards winners

On Wednesday, 14 September, I attended the 12th Third Sector Awards at the Lancaster London Hotel. The awards celebrate the achievements of charities, and their partners, and was hosted by comedian Mark Watson.

This year I was a judge in the cateogies: Brand Development, Digital Innovation of the year and Annual Report and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Huge congratulations to the winners in my categories:

Brand Development: Breast Cancer Now
Digital Innovation of the year: Amnesty International UK for 360º Syria
Annual Report: Brain Tumour Trust

There were 27 awards in total – Read about all the winners here and congratulations to them all.

Personally, I was delighted that Refuge won Communications Team of the Year. I think the work that they have done around the Archers storyline and Paul Trueman’s fundraising campaign, in particular, has been phenomenal.Well done!


Photo credit: Third Sector.

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Judging the Third Sector Awards

This year I am honoured to be a judge in the Third Sector Awards. Unfortunately I cannot reveal the three categories I helped to judge but I had a wonderful morning at Third Sector’s offices in London recently with my fellow judges, reviewing the entries and making our final selections to then be shortlisted.

It was great to see lots of familiar faces, such as Rob Dyson, Morgan Martins and Reuben Turner as well as finally meeting some people in person, like Kate Sayer and Andy Hillier.

Third Sector Awards 2016

There were some really strong entries and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I hope next year a new category will be added – Digital Fundraising. I best suggest it!

The Awards take place on Wednesday 14 September at the Lancaster so be sure to follow the hashtag #TSawards to see who all the winners are.To all who entered… best of luck!

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Announcing the Charity Governance Award winners

Last night I attended the inaugural Charity Governance Awards at the Clothworkers Hall in London. The awards were organised by the Clothworkers’ Company in partnership with Reach, Prospectus and NPC (New Philanthropy Capital).

I’m delighted these awards exist as it’s important to recognise good governance. Usually the only time we hear about governance is when it’s bad and it all goes horribly wrong.

By shining a spotlight on the best of the sector, we want to demonstrate how effective governance can transform a charity and even more of the lives of its beneficiaries.

Charities were invited to apply for the awards and there was a two-stage judging process. The fourteen judges boast a wealth of experience in charity governance and the voluntary sector and included Dawn Austwick (Chief Executive, Big Lottery Fund), Tony Cohen (Chair of Barnardo’s) and Janet Thorne (CEO of Reach Volunteering).

The six winning charities will share in the £30,000 prize pot, each winning a £5,000 unrestricted grant.

The winning charities represent a diverse range of subject areas including youth work, heritage conservation, mental health support, palliative care, and community improvement. I was really impressed with what the boards of these charities had achieved and all the charities shortlisted were worthy winners but of course, there can only be one…


Board diversity and inclusivity

Leap Confronting Conflict, winners at Charity Governance Awards (photo by Kate Darkins).jpg

Improving impact – charities with 0-3 staff

Robert Thompson Charities, winners at Charity Governance Awards (photo by Kate Darkins).jpg

Improving impact – charities with 4-25 staff

Improving impact – charities with 26+ staff

St Cuthberts Hospice, winners at Charity Governance Awards (photo by Kate Darkins).jpg

Embracing opportunity and harnessing risk

Managing turnaround

Moasic Clubhouse, winners at Charity Governance Awards (photo by Kate Darkins).jpg

The 2017 Awards will open for entry on 6 October so make sure you put your Board forward.

Congratulations to all the winners and to all the Boards shortlisted!


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How crowdfunding is changing the face of social action

I am very proud to be on the panel of this year’s #FRO16 by The Resource Alliance, which is a global two-day online conference aimed at helping charities and social enterprises have access to case studies, new thinking and best practice – for free.

If you register now for #FRO16, you’ll be able to watch all the sessions for one month. Sessions include speakers from JustGiving, Storythings, Indiegogo, SolarAid, Platypus Digital, Dignity in Dying, HOME fundraising, Change.org and many more.

In association with The Resource Alliance, I’ve produced a whitepaper which looks at how crowdfunding is changing the face of social action. Download if for free, here. Follow the hashtag, #FRo16, to see what people are saying!

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An apology, a declutter and some useful links

I have been neglecting this blog and I’m sorry. However, I have very good reason… as you may know I have been freelance again since October last year and boy have I been busy. It’s been great though – I’m working on some really interesting projects with charities, businesses and start-ups and I’ve also become a regular writer for Third Sector’s Digital Hub.

I’ve also recently moved house and I was really impressed with how easy it’s been to change my contact details for the charities I support with monthly direct debits. I thought it was going to be tricky to find out how to let them know but all of them had pretty easy to find details on their websites and I received a reply within two working days. Much more efficient and far less time consuming than informing my banks, I can tell you! What was really nice was the personalised emails I received back. I particularly like this one because yes, moving is stressful!


On the subject of moving house, I suddenly found myself with so much stuff. Stuff I didn’t need so I packed up eleven boxes (yes, eleven boxes AFTER moving house) and emailed the British Heart Foundation to collect them. It was relatively fuss-free and I had them collected on the Monday Bank Holiday (no holiday for them, clearly).

A few things that have caught my attention in the past months that you may find interesting:

My charity boss’s bullying still haunts me –  Guardian Voluntary Sector Network, Confessions of a charity professional. Disturbing and distressing but a must-read. The comments really opened my eyes and so did the discussion that took place when I posted this on the Third Sector PR & Communications Network group that I manage on Facebook.

How to illustrate difficult causes and subjects – Madeleine Sugden. Madeleine’s posts are always well thought out and well researched. Take a look at her past posts too. Or better yet, subscribe.

It’s time for charities to stop wasting money on social media – Matt Collins for the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network. Oh boy did this kick off. Poor Matt had to contend with loads of tweets and comments that were really rather unpleasant. I get what Matt was trying to say and that is that social is just one part of your toolbox. There are other tools that are actually more effective (like email) so make sure you’re using all of them to their full potential and not just putting all your eggs into your social media basket.

Charity Boards are failing to adapt to the digital age -this has to change – Zoe Amar for the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network. Always insightful, Zoe makes the case that boards who ignore or don’t understand digital, do so at their peril.

Does your organisation represent more than just clutter in the eyes of your donors? – Seth Piper for The Resource Alliance. I absolutely love this post and I’m pretty certain it’s what spurred me on to do my own declutter.

I promise I will try to post more regularly. In the meantime, if you’d like to connect with me I’m over on Twitter at LondonKirsty.



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My top 5 charity campaigns of 2015

As we approach the end of the year, I’ve thought about the many charity campaigns I’ve seen throughout 2015 and have made a list of my favourites:

#SmearForSmear by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust

The cervical cancer charity launched a social campaign to raise awareness of the importance of having a smear test, during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (25-31 Jan). The idea was simple: put on some lipstick, smear the lipstick, take a selfie, share on social with #SmearForSmear and nominate a friend to do the same.

It started as purely an awareness raising campaign but a text donate call to action was soon added once the campaign seemed to gain momentum. Of course, as it followed the #icebucketchallenge and #nomakeupselfie it gathered some criticism for ‘jumping on the social media bandwagon’. Here’s my response to that claim in the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network.

I even took part myself:

#BTTCK by RNLI’s social media team

Not strictly a charity campaign but I absolutely loved the Back to the Crew Kit campaign by RNLI’s social media team. For three  whole days the five members of the RNLI’s social media team wore oil skins and lifejackets from a bygone era in order to raise vital funds for their charity. Search #BTTCK on Twitter for some hilarious pictures and videos on how they got on.

#EndangeredEmoji by WWF

Such a clever, current campaign that (deservedly) even picked up an award in the Drum Social Media Buzz Awards. The idea is that every time you use an endangered animal emoji on social media, you make a small donation to WWF to help save them from extinction.

#TheChokeables by St John Ambulance

What do you do if your baby starts choking? The aim of this campaign was to teach parents first aid directly so that they would know what to do if faced with an emergency. Social media, particularly Facebook, played a massive part in getting the video seen and shared and as a result of this campaign 45 babies were saved*

*This is from feedback given to the charity by parents.

The video has been watched almost 6 million times on YouTube alone.

#DECHOX by British Heart Foundation

DECHOX is a denial fundraising challenge where participants give up chocolate for the month of March. Not for this chocoholic I’m afraid but it was a great success for the charity. The beauty of this campaign lies in its social nature – there was a whole host of tools, such as pre-written emails, social media badges and even an ‘offline’ desktop sign. There is also a clever link between unhealthy foods and heart disease so there was a real purpose to this campaign. And boy were people proud of their medals.

I also liked how the charity took on an edgier tone of voice and in fact, this was one of the campaigns this year that sparked my article for the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network on profanity in charity campaigns.


So there you have it – my top 5 charity campaigns for 2015. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what charities come up with in 2016!

What were your favourite campaigns of 2015?

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The top 30 Social CEOs and a free guide

Last night I attended the Social CEO Awards, hosted by JustGiving. Set up by Zoe Amar and Matt Collins, and now in its third year, the awards celebrate CEOs who are using Twitter to actively engage with their supporters and beneficiaries, discussing key issues and raising awareness of their charity.

The full top 30 are listed in this Guardian Voluntary article.

This year there were three new categories: Senior Leader, Trustee and Rising Star. Congratulations to all the winners!

If you are a CEO wanting to get started on Twitter, or improve your social skills, then download this free guide: Digital Leadership: how to survive and thrive as a social CEO.

The guide has been produced by Zoe Amar and Matt Collins and features advice and tips from Zoe, Matt, Rob Hayter of TPP Recruitment and myself. I offer tips on how CEOs can fundraise on social media and share examples of CEOs who are using Twitter brilliantly to fundraise – like Polly Neate, CEO of Women’s Aid who took part in the Mont Ventoux Climb and raised over £2,000 for her charity.

If your CEO is not convinced about the benefits of being on social media, download the guide and leave it on their desk!

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