Adeela Warley: The power of change narratives

Narratives that offer solutions and positive futures can open the space for conversation and accelerate progress

Adeela Warley

It is heartening to see political attempts to stifle campaigning backfiring. The latest Sheila McKechnie Foundation Campaigner Survey says the so-called war on woke has reconnected charities with their founding purpose and emboldened campaigners to speak out. 

The targeting of charities in the firing line, such as The RNLI and the National Trust, and their response, has seen spikes in public support, donations and membership. Other charities blazing a trail include Imix, which is changing the conversation around refugees and migration, and Mermaids, which is creating bold and impactful gender rights campaigns to counter narratives intended to undermine its work.  

Meanwhile, Find the right words is an inspiring global campaign by the charity Stamma working with Wikipedia to counter negative public perceptions and reshape the language around stammering. 

Campaign communicators know that narratives play a critical role in our lives: shaping how we think, feel and act. Every day we see that truth has become a contested space, and conflict the easy default on issues as diverse as the colonial past, poverty, health, refugees, ageing and climate change. 

Helping charities understand how narratives work, equipping them with the tools to disrupt and replace those narratives that hold us back and perpetuate inequalities, and sharing their successes, are imperative for our sector. 

Why? Because it is increasingly clear that traditional models of charity communications are struggling to unite and engage public support at scale or with the urgency needed. 

Creating narratives that offer solutions today and positive futures from what is on offer can open the space for conversation and accelerate progress towards the societal changes we seek.

Adeela Warley is chief executive of CharityComms

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