A daily challenge for charities is to show the positive difference they make to justify their existence. We should be well placed to respond clearly and confidently because we invest so much in crafting our mission, vision and values and persuading our teams and trustees to embrace and live these.
Too often, though, good intentions remain assertions languishing in once optimistic strategy documents. We struggle to turn the fruits of our labours into messages and behaviours that shape our audiences’ experiences, and to leave the public with clear insight into the good we have done and will do.
Companies often seem more at ease constructing simple, compelling stories of a better world. For instance, small green-energy suppliers offer increasingly affordable clean energy, curbing climate-changing fossil fuels in the process. The fast-food giant McDonald’s puts stories of UK farmers to the fore, encouraging customers to visit its suppliers. Even allowing for the sizeable budgets involved, companies seem to have no difficulty creating routes to fulfil people’s hopes.
Hans Rosling’s Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think is a challenging read for those seeking to balance good news with bad and facts with empathy. It says that when people wrongly believe nothing is improving, they lose confidence in measures that do work.
Communicating hope and charting progress is our business. That means communicating both the latest incremental successes and the bigger changes over time. It’s also the best way to sustain support for the next big push.
Adeela Warley is chief executive of CharityComms