The past few years and their accompanying lockdowns have both necessitated and highlighted the need for charities to be able to communicate their messaging effectively. Cutting through the sheer volume of online and media content to reach service users, potential funders, engage young people, recruit volunteers, crowdfund and raise awareness of their services has never been more vital. Recognising this, John Lyon’s Charity has been funding communications capacity building initiatives with partner, Media Trust – one of the UK’s leading communications charities that specialises in supporting charities, underrepresented communities and young people have a voice – since 2015.
Volunteer Films Initiative
The Volunteer Films initiative sees 10 charities each year hand-matched with professional film makers, who volunteer their time, skills and creative expertise to create powerful 3-minute films that bring the charities’ stories to life. Films are designed to respond to the needs of the charities, whether to raise awareness of their services, recruit volunteers or fundraise – often all three. A number of the films have gone on to achieve Bronze, Silver or Gold at the Smiley Charity Film Awards, such as Doorstep Library Network’s film:
Communications Capacity Building Initiative
Since 2017, the Charity has also been investing in a dedicated Communications Capacity Building initiative that sees Media Trust upskill 20 charities each year. Charities each receive a one-to-one communications audit from Media Trust’s consultant, which considers their communications needs – both internally and externally – and are used to develop tailored strategy and a series of masterclasses that address training needs across the cohort. Masterclasses are delivered by Media Trust’s network of highly skilled communications professionals and cover subjects including organisational messaging, digital campaigns, social media, getting into the media (news outlets), digital fundraising and film-making. Long-term support and training is also provided in the form of matching an experienced volunteer communications professional to support the development needs within each charity, over at least six months.
- “Oliver’s (consultant) knowledge and perspective were a huge help for us to look at the bigger picture for our organisation. We were able to cover areas that suggested we could really transform our organisation for the better, and it made the team feel very motivated and in many ways, excited, about what we can be doing for the future.” – Barnet Carers
- “Having a person external to the company looking at all our communications and reflecting how successfully (or not) they achieve our aims is absolutely brilliant. Even after one session we now know so much more about what we need to do.” – Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre
- “Having dedicated, professional support from an organisation who understands the comms challenges many small charities face due to limited resources, budget and experience is really welcome – and helpful. Thank you!” - Pirate Castle.