Top charity use of trending news stories

Now, newsjacking has been around for ages and charities have been taking advantage of trending hashtags, or news, in both good and bad ways – mostly good.

Recently, I’ve noticed one charity that seems to have nailed it.

They have clearly thought their key messages through and they are reaping the benefits – their latest one, which focussed on the news story that skinny jeans could be bad for your health (oh dear, Hipsters) had 74 Retweets.

So who is it?

Here’s one for National Kissing Day.

But best of all? These ones for Game of Thrones.

I think these are wonderful examples of how to take advantage of trending hashtags, in a meaningful way. Have you spotted any others?

This is how to thank your supporters

I’ve been a supporter of Child’s i Foundation for years now (I’ve written about them loads of times on this blog). Today I received the loveliest ‘thank you’ video from them, which they have kindly allowed me to share. You see, the video is a private link on YouTube so only those with the link can see it, which means it’s just for me but because it is such a wonderful piece of charity content, I just had to share it with you.

Child’s i is a small charity making a big impact.

I hope this video inspires you when you next thank a supporter. Think about how you can make them feel special, like this video makes me feel.

The best group you’ll ever join

I’d like to introduce you to the best group on Facebook for people who work in the charity sector in PR or Comms (although just ‘charity’ will do really as we talk about a whole host of topics). The Third Sector PR and Communications Network was set up by Rob Dyson of Whizz-Kidz and the group has grown to over 2,100 members.

Third Sector PR and Comms Facebook group

Members can post questions, ask for advice, share relevant content or even post jobs. Recently we had a great debate about Binky Felstead being paid by Barnardo’s to promote their retail shops.

The best thing about the group is that you can post a question and get answers in minutes. It’s also a great way to network and get some peer to peer support. So if you’d like to join, send a request! Please take a look at the pinned post and send me a private message if it’s not clear from your Facebook profile that you work in the sector. This is to avoid spammers.

My 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?

The best and worst letter I’ve ever received

My husband and I share a love of dogs. As we rent our flat, we’re unable to have a dog of our own. Although, even if we did own a property, I’m not sure we could have a dog just yet as we both leave home early in the morning and are not home until around 7pm.

One of the first birthday presents I gave my husband was sponsoring a Dogs Trust dog in his name. Every year my husband receives birthday, Christmas and even Valentine’s cards from his sponsor dog, Shane.

Then he received this letter.

Letter from Dogs Trust

Shane had passed away.

I’m not ashamed to say I cried my eyes out. I’m even tearing up just writing this. Yes we never got to meet Shane but he had been our sponsor dog for years. Pictures of him are on our fridge. He’s the dog we never had.

But this post is not about losing Shane, it’s about how Dog’s Trust handled that communication to us. It’s a sad letter but a lovely one too as it talks all about Shane – what kind of dog he was, how he was loved and cared for by the Dogs Trust staff (sadly Shane never found a forever home) and how he would genuinely be missed. And I completely believe every word.

Now of course Dogs Trust doesn’t want to lose our monthly donation so they’ve chosen another dog for us to sponsor. They’ve given us the option to choose another dog or amend our sponsorship and have given us a telephone number should we wish to call them.

So meet Lollipop.


Lollipop will now be our new sponsor dog and we’re looking forward to receiving our first Christmas card from her and supporting her (and other dogs like her) through our continued sponsorship.

I believe that charities can, with well written and sensitive communication, turn a sad (or bad) situation in to a positive. This letter is a great example of that.

Free writing masterclass for charity people

The Sentence Works is holding its first masterclass on 20 June in Brighton and those who work in the charity sector can come along for free!

Topics the masterclass will cover include:

• How to write crisp, punchy sentences
• How to begin and end a document effectively
• How to structure a document in a logical way
• How to write to length
• How to write in plain, simple English to make your work more readable
• How to cut out unnecessary words to make your writing clearer
• The most common grammar and punctuation mistakes and how to avoid them in future
• Hints and tips to improve the spellings that give you nightmares.

So if you’d like to learn how to become a more confident writer and communicate your charity’s message more effectively, then this course is for you. The course will be run by a qualified trainer with more than 25 years writing experience for national newspapers and magazines. Email Judy at to request a place and be sure to say which charity you work for.

Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention – three days of inspiration!

I am very excited to announce that I am an official blogger for the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention, taking place from 7-9 July at the Hilton London Metropole. I will be joined in my blogging duties by Matt Collins and Lisa Clavering – so in good company indeed!

The theme this year is ‘Proud to be a fundraiser’ and along with presentations there will also be social events, such as speed networking, and masterclasses. As a Trustee of the Small Charities Coalition, I am beyond delighted that one of the masterclasses is Focus on Small Charities. Guess which one I’ll be going to!

Sessions that have particularly caught my eye are ‘What fundraisers can learn from rappers’, ‘Small charities – how to use your size to your advantage’ and ‘Living the dream with mobile’.

Take a look at the programme for the three days here and if you would like to come along, book by 25 April to receive the Early Bird discount. Hope to see you there!


Brands, take note! This is how you do Social

Man tweets brand, brand replies. Nothing unusual there right? Wrong. This is one of the best Twitter exchanges I’ve ever seen (read the whole exchange here) and well done David for showing that brands can have a sense of humour!


What can brands learn for this?

  • don’t be afraid to let your social media person/people show their personalities
  • broadcasting messages is boring… have conversations instead (even silly ones)
  • take advantage of these kinds of spontaneous situations. Had a funny/odd tweet? Don’t ignore it… be creative! Like David….
  • take a risk (but be sensible) – waiting for sign-off on tweets will kill the exchange dead. Sometimes you’ve just got to (salmon*) roll with it