Adeela Warley: Strategic communications decisions required

Charities should think hard about joining a crowded calendar of awareness events

Adeela Warley
Adeela Warley

The 2019 diary is already looking crowded. As well as big national and sporting events, almost every day of the year seems to have a cause attached. Mark your card for World Wetlands Day (2 February), World Day against Trafficking in Persons (30 July) and Foster Carer Appreciation Day (11 October).

The trend for awareness and giving-themed dates has been supercharged by social media.

We might share cynicism of the commercial equivalents that often encourage indulgence (British Pie Week, National Curry Week and so on), but for the not-for-profit sector cause-related days can provide a genuine hook for supporter engagement and an urgency for action.

The crowded calendar should prompt us to check our rationale before boarding the bandwagon. Taking part requires genuinely strategic decisions. How does it help deliver organisational objectives? How can it unite us in a shared endeavour?

That means working across functional silos (campaigns v comms, fundraising v brand and so on) to create a shared narrative, not a competing basket of asks. It also matters to set realistic ambitions capable of galvanising staff, volunteers and supporters, and to own the measures of success and a passion for honest evaluation and applied learning.

Pipe dream or recipe for success? I’d vote for the latter because it’s about working together to achieve our causes. This Valentine’s Day I look forward to ditching the hearts and chocolates to help save one of the world’s endangered apes on World Bonobo Day.

Adeela Warley is chief executive of CharityComms

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