Communications update: Vicky Browning on the power of a name

Plus: lots of toilet talk in the sector

Many charities have compelling stories about their origins.

These often involve inspiring and determined people whose passion for a particular cause gave birth to the charity and became the basis of its world-changing mission. But it can be a challenge to communicate this history to the wider public without coming across as old-fashioned. Anniversaries such as 40, 50, 80 or even 100 years feel like milestones to the people who work at that charity, but to everybody else they might appear as not much more than opportunities for pointless nostalgia.

The blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan tackles this challenge head on with its latest annual review. Presented in the form of a series of postcards ostensibly sent over the past four decades, the review manages to fuse the heritage of where the charity has been with the vision of where it is going, in a creative and accessible format.

There's plenty of toilet talk in the sector at the moment. The #justatampon campaign by Plan UK is aimed at breaking the taboo of menstruation, thereby supporting women around the world. And then there is the Incredible Quiz of Unbelievable Sh!t by the charity WaterAid, which "breaks the silence on sanitation" to emphasise that 2.5 billion people around the world still do not have access to safe, private toilets.

Campaigns such as these offer a new take on the traditional communications approach of raising awareness by telling it like it really is – as well as affording me the illicit thrill of writing the word sh!t in Third Sector.

Vicky Browning is director of CharityComms

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