Communications: Oxfam Live to target new supporters

Oxfam is hoping that its Oxfam Live events will attract new as well as existing supporters for the first time this year.

A total of 18 Oxfam Live events will be held across the UK from April to June, timed to follow on from the charity's I'm In campaign, which called for a million people to pledge their support to end poverty.

The events, known as Oxfam forums until last year, when they received a 'facelift', are intended to give supporters the chance to question key figures within the charity and voice their opinions.

"Although everyone has always been welcome, we didn't really publicise the forums to non-supporters before," said Louisa Lyne, senior internal communications executive at Oxfam. "We'll be putting up posters in our shops and sending out emails to advertise them."

Directors from all of Oxfam's divisions will be speaking at the events, including representatives from India, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Barbara Stocking, director of the charity, will also be taking questions at selected venues.

The events serve a similar purpose to that of an annual general meeting in a membership organisation. "It's all about accountability and gives people the chance to find out more about what we do," explained Lyne.

"There are so many ways in which people can support us apart from the three traditional methods of campaigning, volunteering or donating money.

We find that people always come up with novel ideas at the events - and, although policy changes can only happen after thorough research, they do influence the way we do things."

In this way Oxfam Live aims to reinforce the message of the I'm In and Make Poverty History campaigns - that ordinary people can make a difference. The events will also have more of a local focus this year, in order to encourage people to set up their own supporter groups within their local communities.

The events will also include sessions on Oxfam's emergency programmes and workshops.

Lyne added: "The feedback we get shows people find face-to-face contact really valuable, especially with international staff."

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