Focus: Communications - Magazine a success, claims NSPCC

When the NSPCC launched a glossy magazine about parenting earlier this year, critics wondered whether it was an appropriate use of the charity's funds. Three issues in, however, and evidence suggests that Your Family has been enormously popular.

"We were confident it would do well, otherwise we wouldn't have launched it," says John Grounds, director of communications at the NSPCC. "But it has done better than we hoped."

The charity has yet to carry out an official evaluation of the title, but Grounds explains: "We have had a lot of feedback from readers, so we have a good idea of what people like about it.

"It seems to be exactly the sort of thing the readers have been looking for. We deliberately wanted to avoid sounding like we were preaching and wanted to create a relationship of equals. People like the fact that's it's not patronising and enjoy the tips from other parents. The fact that it's free helps too."

Your Family is quarterly and is available from 400 branches of Woolworths across the country. It is contracted out to independent publisher Redwood, with an editorial board comprising NSPCC employees, including Grounds.

It is a slick magazine that is obviously not produced on a shoestring, although Grounds refuses to reveal the production costs.

"Our objective with Your Family is to break even." he says. "But its value as a method of communication means it already justifies what we have spent on it."

The NSPCC is not the first charity to recognise the value of producing a magazine. Shelter's Roof celebrated its 30th birthday recently. Save the Children, however, has opted for a more mainstream approach by revamping its in-house title, World's Children, to look more like a consumer magazine.

However, the NSPCC is the first to produce a publication aimed at a much wider audience, rather than at supporters and employees. It might seem like an option that is open only to wealthier charities, but more and more are saving on print costs by producing online magazines.

Alternatively, it might be worth considering a collaboration, suggests Grounds. "Charities could think about working together to produce something like this," he says.

indira.das-gupta@haynet.com.

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