Brown will seek media support for charities

Dominic Wood

Chancellor Gordon Brown will urge Britain's biggest media moguls to provide more pro bono work to ease the desperate need of charities for communications skills.

Brown will host a February breakfast meeting, set up by the Media Trust, at 11 Downing Street. Many of the UK's most powerful figures in TV, print, radio and advertising will attend.

Media Trust chief executive Caroline Diehl said she hoped the presence of the Chancellor would "inspire support for the Year of the Volunteer, both editorially for the Community Channel and through staff volunteering initiatives for charities".

Last September, all five terrestrial broadcasters, BSkyB and others declared their support for the not-for-profit Community Channel, owned by the Media Trust. The outcome of the Chancellor's meeting should provide a measure of how far that support extends.

The trust's call to action follows its recent survey of communications managers at 150 small and large charities, which found that 30 per cent had received no communications training at all.

The survey also unearthed anecdotal evidence to suggest that when corporations fund charity projects they are rarely interested in giving cash specifically to communicate that project.

Most of the charities canvassed for the survey said they wanted training to be subsidised at source so that grants were not needed.

Diehl estimated that the trust would access funding packages from the Home Office's Active Communities Unit to deliver funding for the capacity-building needs before April.

In the meantime, she said, the Government's Change Up fund had to address the problem urgently because the fund's capacity-building hubs do not earmark resources for communications training other than the specialised kind relating to information technology.

"With the Charities Bill emphasising the need for charities to be accountable, communications should be top of their agenda, not bottom, " Diehl argued.

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