The BBC channels £97m a year to good causes, either through direct appeals or the grant-givers Comic Relief, Sport Relief and Children In Need. Its local radio stations generate £2m annually, the weekly Radio 4 appeal more than £1m, and the monthly BBC 1 programme Lifeline more than £300,000. Money also comes from the annual Blue Peter appeal, the TV series Restoration, the newly launched BBC Wildlife Fund and, increasingly, interactive TV phone voting. As BBC charity appeals adviser, Diane Reid is in the thick of all that activity.
She helps to formulate BBC policy on appeals, as well as guiding decisions on which charities get airtime. This involves advising an independent appeals board of voluntary sector representatives who consider charity tie-ups. They look for financial solidity, public appeal and, for UK-wide broadcasts, national reach or scope for replication. Radio 4 appeal slots can make a huge difference to small charities, some of which have scaled up their activities as a result.
Fundraisers hoping to get their charity on air should tell their story and make it real, she advises. "I remember an obscure disease charity applying to us and at no point explaining what the disease was and its impact."
Those who secure a slot can maximise the opportunity, she adds: "It's what you make of it."
As well as having media experience, Reid has also worked in the charity sector. After 22 years as a BBC producer and director, she realised that, rather than make programmes about charity work, she wanted to participate. She became a Comic Relief fundraiser, moved on to a fundraising role at charity HTCP, then became director of the Community Media Association. She is a trustee of learning disabilities charity L'Arche. "I know what it's like to worry about funding," she says.
Reid wants to bridge the gap between broadcasting and charity. Public service broadcasting and the voluntary sector have a natural affinity, she says. Both sectors attract committed people, and interpretation of the appeals guidelines also helps the BBC deliver its public service remit.
- 'Making Elephants Sneeze - fundraising through broadcast coverage' is at 11.15am tomorrow.
2006: Charity appeals adviser, BBC
2004: Director, Community Media Association
2003: Director of fundraising and communications, HCPT - the Pilgrimage
2002: North-west regional fundraising manager, Comic Relief
1990: Senior producer/director religion and ethics, BBC
1987: Series director, Antiques Roadshow, BBC