Vicky Browning: We don't need megabucks to change public attitudes

#changedbycharity is an opportunity for the sector to speak up for itself, says the director of CharityComms

Vicky Browning
Vicky Browning

It's received wisdom that targeting communications at the general public is a mug's game unless you have bottomless budgets. So you might be forgiven for thinking that the Understanding Charities Group's objective of improving public understanding of modern charities is unrealistic without the backing of a megabucks campaign.

But isn't the general public just another word for people? And as UK charities employ more than 800,000 people, aren't we all part of the general public? We might be charity workers, but aren't we also charity supporters, volunteers and beneficiaries? Haven't we had our lives beyond our working days touched in any number of ways by charities and the work they and we do?

We all know how media coverage of the sector in 2015 was dominated by negative stories. #changedbycharity is an opportunity for third sector folk to talk about how their worlds have been improved by charity. It's a chance for charities to speak up for ourselves rather than wait for someone else to do it for us (we've all heard - or contributed to - the complaints about the dearth of spokespeople willing to stand up for the sector in the national press).

Some 800,000 voices talking about how charity has changed their world for the better would make a powerful sound. And start spreading that to the 15 million volunteers who give their time to charity at least once a month (check this out online in the NCVO almanac at, let alone the beneficiaries who have benefited from all that commitment, and surely we have a counterbalance to the negativity. I know I've been #changedbycharity. Have you?

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