Regulation with Rosie: The importance of propa speling

The Charity Commission's Rosie Chapman on the importance of propa speling.

There are many different schools of thought when it comes to public relations and marketing. Yet principles seem to be wholly academic when it comes to some of the material produced by charities and, in fairness, across much of Whitehall.

Three-page press releases; self-referential blogs that tell us nothing new; spelling mistakes on recruitment ads. These are some recent examples I've seen of material that undermines the effectiveness of charities.

An ability to communicate in a clear and accessible way is the essential foundation that everything is built on, from public accountability to successful funding applications.

Highly skilled researchers may produce evidence that will advance a charity's cause and raise public awareness - but not if the researcher can't write for a wider audience.

The trend towards specialisation has increased the sector's overall professionalism, but made it less likely that a researcher or policy adviser will be an expert drafter as well. Charities must be able to communicate the importance and impact of their work to funders, supporters and the public. Failing to do things properly at this stage can make a mockery of all the money that has been spent so far.

Good charities review their employees' skills just as they review their trustee boards. Where there are gaps, they plug them, either via recruitment, targeted volunteering initiatives or by using the services of the many training providers out there.

Times are tight in the charitable sector, as everywhere else. But failing to ensure a reasonable standard of written communication is a false economy charities cannot afford.

 - Rosie Chapman is executive director of policy and effectiveness at the commission.

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