Top content tools you need to know about

If you work in communications, social media or marketing then you need to know about these free tools to help you create eye-catching content.

Design

Canva is a free design tool that allows you to create amazing graphics for all your social media and marketing needs. They have a whole host of great features, such as uploading your own images, adding filters, making elements transparent, adding text over images and free illustrations and elements to help you create infographic-style designs. I use it lot for my personal travel and food blog but here’s a Facebook cover photo I created for the Third Sector PR & Comms Network Facebook group.

third-sector-2

What’s also great about Canva is that it has templates for Facebook cover images, Twitter images, Pinterest posts etc so no need for you to look up the exact dimensions. Best of all? Canva for work, which is a paid version with added features, is free for charities – just contact them to enquire.

Notegraphy makes your words look beautiful so that they stand out. Download the app on the App store or Google Play and get writing. Here’s a video to explain how it works:

Images

To create great graphics, you need high quality images. It’s always best to use your own but sometimes that’s not always possible. Here are my favourite go-to websites for high resolution images that allow you to use them as you like – crop, filter, add text etc and no need to credit the photographer: Unsplash, Gratisography, Pexels, Pixabay and Morguefile.

Infographics

If you have a lot of interesting data that you’d like to turn into an infographic, take a look at HubSpot’s free infographic templates. They are PowerPoint templates which you can edit. You can use your own colours and fonts to ensure it’s on brand.

Not free but Piktochart offer charities pricing at $39.99 for  year. They have 400 templates of Infographics that you can edit and customise. Also included are stock photos (if needed) and industry-specific icons.

Gifs

Gifs are moving images that can help add an element of fun into your social media posts. Twitter has a really handy gif feature built in, powered by Gify, where you can use keywords to search through thousands of gifs. CRUK’s Drylathlon Twitter account uses Twitter gifs a lot as it fits in with their cheeky tone of voice:

But what if you want to make you own? Make A Gif is a free tool that lets you make gifs from photos or even video. So why not get experimenting with gifs of an event or even your staff?

What tools do you use? Leave a comment below!

 

 

Do something good this #GivingTuesday

It’s #GivingTuesday – a day where the public is urged to ‘do good stuff’ for charity as it falls after the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

#GivingTuesday is by the team at Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and this is only its third year – but the stats are impressive:

  • in 2015 £6,000 a minute was raised for UK charities
  • A World Record was broken for the most money donated online in 24 hours
  • #GivingTuesday is run in over 70 countries around the world.

#GivingTuesday is not just about raising money.

Here are a few ideas for how you can take part in #GivingTuesday that doesn’t involve money:

  1. Write for Amnesty – send some words of comfort to Nazanin, a charity worker imprisoned in Iran (the charges remain a secret) and sign the petition to free her.
  2. Simply tweet  – tweet using #TweetForShelter and British Gas will donate £1 to Shelter (up to £25,000).
  3. Become a volunteer – Beanstalk is just one charity calling for people to volunteer their time to make a difference.

4. Give the gift of listening – this is a lovely idea from Samaritans. Do you have a friend, family member or colleague who needs a friendly ear? Take the time to listen to them. It could save a life.

5. Nominate a local cause – supermarkets, such as The Co-op are looking for local causes to support so nominate a local charity.

6. Become a trustee – charities need strong and effective boards so make a huge difference by becoming a trustee for a cause you care about. Find opportunities on Trustee Finder.

7. Spread the word – if you support charities, why not tweet or share on Facebook why you support them and help raise awareness of their cause.

‘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!

charity-governance-awards-2017

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!

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?

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

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!

refuge-team

Photo credit: Third Sector.

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!

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…

Winners:

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!

 

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!