Communications update: Vicky Browning on the campaign giving smartphones to Ebola survivors

Plus: the charities 'throwing money at the problem' of social media

Allowing the people that charities help to tell their own stories in their own words has always been a powerful approach. A new campaign tackling the stigma of Ebola in west Africa combines this principle with technology. Although many people have survived Ebola, the virus continues to spread because of a lack of information, and survivors face rejection by their communities.

The Unicef-backed campaign #ISurvivedEbola gives smartphones to survivors in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone so they can connect with each other, share advice and keep the world informed. Next to effective treatment, preventing further infections is vital, says Unicef. "#ISurvivedEbola provides this information in highly entertaining forms, including the testimonies of survivors," a spokesman says.

A report from the software and services supplier Blackbaud says charities struggle to use social media effectively. It says: "Most not-for-profits felt they did not meet expectations in executing their social media efforts in the past year. More than 60 per cent rated themselves lower than seven out of 10 on a scale of effectiveness. To increase effectiveness, about half of respondents plan to put more financial resources towards social media in the next year."

Data from CharityComms' own Digital Benchmark (a syndicate of charities that pool data to compare their digital performance in comms and fundraising) shows that just 54 per cent of charities - and only 33 per cent of small ones - have social media strategies. Shouldn't developing a coherent strategy come before throwing more money at the problem?

Vicky Browning is director of CharityComms

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