The news is a constant source of information for the general public and as news stories shine a light on different topics, charities are able to benefit from the increased awareness of the issues they are trying to solve. In this episode of On the Same Landing Page our head of advertising, Astra Newton, talks about how our different charity guests have used the news to promote their cause and increase donations for their beneficiaries.
Hello and welcome to a very special edition of On The Same Landing Page. So this podcast is a little bit different than usual. I’m your host as ever Astra Newton, head of advertising at Web Presence. But today, instead of interviewing a guest, we thought we would collate some of the best bits from our charity podcasts over the last 12 months. And so these are the parts that I’ve picked out that I’d like to call “using the news to get charity views”. You’ll see why soon enough.
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To find out more, please go to our website. www.webpresence.digital/charity-ads. If you are an eligible nonprofit, please fill out the form on our website, we will do a free eligibility check for you and get in touch about how we kickstart this funding application for you. We will also discuss how we can help you utilize the grant and make the most of it so that you really see a return on investment. Thank you for listening. Now on with the episode.
Our first clip comes from a very special guest, Jake Criswick, who is the CEO of Play It Forward, a charity that uses sports to engage young people in Zambia. Shifting your focus to hone in on the need for your services as times change is something that charities have to do all the time and Jake talks a little bit about how he does this by using the news trends of the time.
COVID was a real threat, globally. But it did mean that the people who were getting treatment weren’t able to get it because they didn’t have the services, and weren’t able to get them to them because they were closed. And clinics may be reprioritising vaccinations for COVID over HIV medication.
So yeah, I think that’s one of the challenges. And also I think it’s just where funding trends go. And unfortunately, I think as I said before, in the nineties, there was a lot of narrative and story around HIV and AIDS and everyone was talking about it and this new disease came through and that probably lasted to the early 2000s.
But kind of now times have kind of moved on and there are other things that come to light, whether that’s kind of conflicts in Ukraine and Russia and whatever, like so many more things that grab people’s attention. So it’s difficult to kind of show your story and say, you know, still there is a real issue here, but we’re working with the community to see how we can overcome that.
Sure I guess that kind of like re-shifted the focus a bit then because obviously, you might have concentrated more on like the health side of things before and HIV with one of the facets. Are you kind of trying to push that more into the limelight now with it raising? Is that one of the key things you’re working towards?
Yeah, exactly. And I think, you know, there are lots of charities in Zambia doing amazing work and in a sense, you have to find your niche. You have to find look at the community that you’re working with, you know, where is the need. And often that changes. It could be kind of nutrition and access to water and sanitation facilities, which is still huge, hugely important in rural communities, but kind of where we work in more kind of urban communities in Livingstone, particularly where you’ve got populations with lots of travel and truckers and lorry drivers coming through. Unfortunately, those kind of transient workers lead to increased HIV and AIDS rates in the communities.
Our next guest, Louise from Rainforest UK, talks about her charity benefitting from moving news agendas. The climate crisis becoming more of a widely pressed issue on the global agenda and how this is actually helping them to generate more funds from private and corporate donors. But how are receiving these inquiries is helping them to raise awareness on the less known issues that they advocate for too.
But as a result, of the climate going further up the global agenda? We’re definitely getting more attention from those private donors. So those private pots of money that people want to put towards climate action. So the big trusts and foundations that exist that have, you know, like Jeff Bezos, who’s brought together a bunch of trusts and foundations to try and plug some money into the climate crisis, like, yeah, organisations like that, we’re getting sort of more attention from those kinds of bodies, having more conversations about the work that we do and how they
can help us and the impact that they can have by, you know, funding our work. And I think it’s also really wonderful to see at the COP26 and then this cop as well, there was more conversation around indigenous people and local communities who are on the front line of deforestation and the need to funnel funds and support directly to them.
And obviously, we are sort of the channel that can get those things to those people and we have those partners on the ground and we have those networks and that historical connection. And I think one of our strengths definitely, and one of our USPs are our partners on the ground. So for that reason as well, we’re gaining traction and we’re getting more attention.
And I think a big piece of work for us as well is just sort of really solidifying what it is that we do in the public consciousness. So if you hear Rainforest Foundation and you think you think the trees, you think the rainforest conjures up that image in your head. Yeah, I think we need to really embed ourselves as a human rights organisation first and foremost, and then as part and parcel of that comes environmental protection.
Emily, who sits on the board of Bikeability, a government-funded road safety cycling initiative for children, talked about how often the media wants to talk to them or get involved with them off the back of a tragedy. Usually when somebody has been hit by a car on a bicycle, which directly goes against the pro-social message that they’re trying to send. So unlike Jake, who worked with the news cycle, Emily is flipping it on its head to push their own agenda.
There is like a bit of a call for reaching for the negative in a storyline because it does get the attention and that is kind of what will work. How do you balance knowing that with keeping your integrity as a charity and not going down that path?
So this is something that Bikeability, we take an awful lot of care and attention to. We want to always avoids over-dangerising language around road safety and road danger because it puts parents and children off from then being allowed to cycle. So we’ve deliberately moved our strategy to talk about this being a life skill and confidence building and enabling people to cycle rather than talk about road safety in danger.
When it comes to media, the only media we will get cover coverage for and or they will ask us on to is if there’s been an accident. And that’s when they then want commentary and how to avoid that. We don’t talk about avoidance. We talk specifically about these are the skills and the experience and the confidence that we will teach you so that you are better able to deal with any road condition that is face to face with you.
And that’s what the evidence says about our programme. But I will never go on and say to parents, don’t put your children to cycle on the roads. Help and support your children to cycle on the road with our top Tips. And this is how that you can how you can do it in the most confident and enabling way.
Speaking on behalf of Action For Children, Katie talks about how this doom and gloom in the media can actually bring charities into Spotlight and can help with fundraising in the immediate interim after something newsworthy, but not necessarily good has happened. She discusses how nonprofits can capitalise on this without exploiting the beneficiaries.
Like you said it does disproportionately, especially out of the frying pan, into the fire after the pandemic. And now into a cost of living crisis and it does disproportionately affect young people. So the work that you do is so important, but in a way, it’s like kind of better now. I don’t know, I might be generalizing, but obviously, lots of people are using the cost of living in crisis, like in their own advertising as charities. You guys are as well to say, look, we need this money more than ever. Now. Do you see a spike? Obviously, some people are still wealthy enough to give them after things like this at the cost of living. Does that actually increase fundraising for a little bit until it sort of slips down again?
I think it can shine a light on the need for something. I mean, we have an incredibly saturated charity sector in the UK. And again, without sounding crass, I do think causes come in and out of fashion, depending on what the media are talking about at the time or depending on what celebrities are supporting which charity at the time. And so you do have your moments in the spotlight as a charity. And I think as a charity, what we need to do is, is maximize those moments without being crude and without taking advantage of the beneficiaries. Because at the end of the day, as a charity, yes, we’re here to fundraise, but we’re actually here to deliver is our case for support. And that’s ensuring that young people have a happy childhood. So there is that fine line between, yeah, sort of taking a story that’s in the media and running with it and really kind of and I think it’s what, you know, as charities is what we used to do in, in the olden days.
You know, you did see a lot of sob stories. I remember some of, you know, some charities with a TV appeals where they you know, they were hard to watch. And I think it’s finding that balance. And it is a huge challenge in fundraising because sometimes what you want, say, is a fundraiser because, you know, it will really strike someone hard and perhaps get them to put their hand in their pocket, actually flies in the face of what you’re trying to deliver for your beneficiaries.
That’s all for this edition of the podcast. If you are interested in hearing what any of these fantastic representatives of charities have to say, then do go back and listen to their episodes, which you can find On The Same Landing Page on Spotify and on YouTube. And as always, stay tuned. We will keep recording these with other charities and have more advice in the future. Thanks.