If I post a picture of a cat, will you read this?

I read this article today by Hadley Freeman in The Guardian, Comment is free on how no one will notice when the world ends because we’re so distracted by pictures of cats on the internet (and other things like a dress that’s blue/black/white/gold/who actually cares).

Speaking of cats… (well, I did promise you a picture if you read this – I think it’s praying for our souls).

Cute-Cats-cats-33440930-1280-800

My first reaction was: She has a point.

#TheDress trended on Twitter for two whole days. It’s had numerous articles written about it, including the BBC, The Independent etc, yet the atrocities of the world continued – Boko Haram posted a video of an execution, an opponent of Putin was murdered in front of the Kremlin not to mention ongoing conflict in Syria. But people weren’t really talking about that, were they? Are we so consumed by fluff on the internet that we’re forgetting to shout out about injustices or take action to stop atrocities?

Personally, I don’t think so. Actually, I think the ‘fluff’ is sometimes just what’s needed to take our minds off these atrocities – just for a moment. Not to forget, not to pretend it’s not happening but to give ourselves a break from the awfulness of the world and have a laugh or a ‘ahhhh’ or a ‘I think it’s white and gold’ moment.

And this made me think about charities.

There are so many charities who deal with stories of child abuse, of addiction and what that does to a person/family/society, stories of people with incurable diseases, stories of bullying, self-harm, depression, suicide… imagine if that’s all these charities ever talked about?

Would you listen?

I can guarantee you wouldn’t. You’d unfollow them on Twitter, hide their posts on Facebook, unsubscribe from their enewsletters and worse – stop supporting them.

And that’s why it’s so important to balance your communications. I know that sometimes charities find it difficult to have light-hearted posts (that aren’t about fundraising) because they think that it’s detracting from the seriousness of their work.

It’s not.

It’s the charities that are able to talk about all manner of things in the appropriate tone and voice, at the right time, that are so successful in their communications. Examples of these charities are: Cancer Research UK, Mind, Refugee Action, Anthony Nolan, Macmillan, War Child to name a few. In fact, I loved this from Macmillan:

My 2014 highlights

2014 HIGHLIGHTS

It’s that time of year when we look back over the last twelve months and celebrate our highlights. For me, it’s important to acknowledge the successes during the year and to set goals for the year to come. These have been my professional highlights this year (in no particular order):

I became an accredited trainer and have delivered training on behalf of Media Trust throughout the year.

Rob Dyson asked me to become an admin of The Third Sector PR and Communications Network – a hugely helpful network for advice, discussions or sharing resources. If you’re not a member yet, what are you waiting for?

I was an official blogger for the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention – three days of great presentations and the opportunity to catch up with fellow charity folk.

I landed my current role doing a job I love for a company I’ve long admired.

My blog post on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign was CharityComms most read article of 2014. Thanks to Anastasia Emmanuel from Indiegogo for her top tips!

I became a regular contributor for the Guardian Voluntary Sector and I was quoted in the actual Guardian. (My husband joked we should frame the article. I haven’t gone that far yet…)

Presenting with my colleague Deborah at Media Trust’s Art of Engagement conference has definitely been a highlight, particularly as I don’t like public speaking!

And talking about public speaking… I also presented recently at the IoF’s Regional Special Interest Group for Community Fundraising and it was great as there was a lot of discussion and debate. I was followed by Teri Doubtfire who delivered a fantastic presentation – I’ve definitely taken some tips on presenting from her!

I’ve been a Trustee at the Small Charities Coalition for just over a year now and I’m really excited at the direction the charity is moving in.

Enrolling on Google’s Squared Online course – I’m only just over half way through. It’s been challenging but I do love a challenge…

So, what am I looking forward to in 2015?

Hopefully to pass Squared Online!

To help my team at work to reach our targets.

To retain my CharityComms ‘most popular post’ title (ideas for a popular blog post topic will be gratefully received…)

But generally… to work hard, to step out of my comfort zone, to say ‘yes’ more than ‘no’, to do the things that scare me and to just be happy.

What have been your highlights this year?

Tis the Season to be jolly (and safe)

Today is the International Day of Action to Eliminate Violence Against Women. At our last Sole Communicators group, that I run with CharityComms, we heard from national domestic violence charity Refuge about their Don’t Cover it Up Campaign. It was really eye-opening, from a creative campaign perspective (the campaign was hugely successful) but also from an information perspective – there were some shocking statistics. I have written a blog post for CharityComms about the campaign, which you can read here.

I was delighted today to receive an email from Emerald Street to say that they are supporting Refuge this month by donating £1 for every new subscription they receive in December. Emerald Street is a free newsletter from the Stylist team that is sent to your inbox daily so why not sign up today and support Refuge

Christmas is usually a happy time for families but sadly not for the 2,800 women and children that Refuge helps on any given day through their refuges, independent advocacy and community outreach services. Help them reach more women and children who are trapped in abusive relationships by signing up to Emerald Street or by donating here. Let this New Year be a new start for them….

 

Some very exciting news….

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I have been appointed* as a Trustee for the Small Charities Coalition! The charity is a networking, mentoring and support organisation for small charities and is committed to helping staff, volunteers and trustees access the skills, knowledge and resources that they need to best serve their cause.

Small Charities Coalition

For those who know me, you will know that I embody the charity’s mission wholeheartedly. With first-hand experience, I understand the challenges of working in a small charity and that is why I started the Sole Communicators group with CharityComms, over a year ago now, to give sole communicators a space to network with peers and share knowledge.  It’s also a professional development opportunity to develop their skills through our themed events with speakers from the sector. The next one takes place on 5 November with Helen Jones from Refuge who will be talking about their Don’t Cover It Up campaign.

I also believe in giving back and sharing your skills with others on a one-to-one basis, which is why I have mentored small charities through Media Trust’s Media Matching service and I’m currently a CharityComms mentor.

I really can’t wait, in my capacity as a Trustee, to help the Small Charities Coalition spread the word about the vital work that they do to empower small charities and trustees with the skills they need to best serve their charities and, most importantly their supporters.

Alex Swallow, Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition, has written this brilliant blog post for Third Sector. I urge you to read it.

*There is the small formality of meeting the Board before being formally appointed