It’s been confirmed that it will now be a matter of legal requirement for charities to explicitly set out how they plan to protect the more vulnerable when it comes to fundraising tactics.
This places a huge pressure on causes to consolidate their communication methodology and to be sure their strategy is as cast-iron as it possibly can be.
For me, as a charity specialist who has worked with a number of national and regional bodies focused on fundraising, the last few weeks of this topic being spotlighted has been particularly busy.
CEOs and fundraising directors have been calling me in for strategy support – not for added knowledge and direction in ‘how’ to shift their fundraising approaches, but in how best to convey their intentions and activity to their loyal donors.
The best charity heads and fundraising teams understand that it isn’t just a matter of them stepping in line with the newly planned legal demands.
Instead, it is about them addressing the current impact that has been had upon the charity sector as a whole, since the story around the death of Olive Cooke (the 92-year-old poppy seller) first broke.
Without a doubt, the sector has been rocked by the revelations.
It’s far too early to show any degree of statistical evidence as to whether enthusiastic charitable supporters and donors have become more reluctant in the wake of the news debate, but we can be sure that the public army of regular ‘givers’ will have taken note.
So, as PR and marketing advisors to the charity sector, what can and should we be telling them at the current time?
How best can we add our expertise to their dilemmas?
Ensure they know the facts and are clear on their part in the debate
There’s little point in trying to advise a charity client in a circumstance where they’re unclear on whether they did use the referenced fundraising telephony service (or another like it).
At the earliest possible opportunity, it’s imperative that the charity is clear with themselves and with a PR advisor about what activity has been carried out – when and for how long – which may have been considered to be within the kind of tactics being discussed.
Stress the importance of communication over silence
Some charities could be inclined to say as little as possible and await the storm around the issue to pass.
Any PR advisor worth their salt would emphasise the need for communication to the appropriate audiences.
Whether or not the charity ‘wants’ to say anything at the current time, we can be sure that public opinion is affected by what they’re reading in the press.
Silence will only suggest guilt or arrogance.
Remember social media is a channel read by a large percentage of supporters
It’s one thing to thing about any need for press releases and considered statements, but for many supporters and donors, the way they’ll be keeping informed of a charity’s ‘position’ is through its social media channels.
Carrying a statement via a twitter feed and facebook post can be a good way of reaffirming that the charity is actively considering its part.
Be helpful to the media in both proactive and reactive ways
Some of my clients were immediately asked for comment from newspapers and broadcasters about their personal part in similar fundraising tactics.
But, even if a charity is not directly contacted by the media, there is ample opportunity for the organisation to reacquaint themselves with journalists and kindly offer appropriate commentary.
In any case, it always helps to have had a statement prepared by a PR advisor or inhouse marketing team.
Emphasise clear communication across their internal team too
There’s little use in relaying the right messaging to the media and external supporter groups, while neglecting to tell your own staff where you stand and what the position is.
It’s critical that internal communication is considered in cases such as this, and that staff are well aware of the organisation’s ‘line’ and their intended next-step activity.
For more marketing or PR support or tips, or to discuss future projects, contact Deborah on 07974 359001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org