Interview: Simon Morrison

The Institute of Fundraising's marketing and communications director talks to John Plummer about campaigns that mix the serious and the playful

Simon Morrison
Simon Morrison

- Is voluntary sector communications different from other sectors?

There are funding challenges, so the job must be done professionally and at good value. You don't have the luxury of extra staff, so you tend to get more generalists in the team.

- What PR challenges are there to working for a membership body?

We represent everyone, from fundraising directors at charities with turnovers of £150m a year to sole fundraisers who have other jobs. It's about recognising different audiences and understanding what they want.

- Is social media particularly useful in achieving this?

It's certainly growing in importance to us. The average age of fundraisers is lower than in many other professions, so they tend to be early adopters. We have seen a massive increase in the popularity of Twitter and LinkedIn over the past six months. We will have a new website next year that will enable people to personalise the content they receive.

- Which campaigns have impressed you recently?

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Fish Fight campaign aims to reform fisheries policy and change consumer behaviour: it has a clear focus that has captured people's interest. Movember, the moustache-growing event, has also impressed me: it's playful, with a serious message.

- What advice would you give someone starting a career in communications?

Always know your audience and consider what they want, and how they would want to be communicated with. Then plan what you do and evaluate it.

- Why don't more charities engage in direct action like Occupy London Stock Exchange?

It has got a bad reputation - all too often it leads to allegations that it's politically motivated or about violence. It would be nice to see this kind of protest become more community-focused, with families involved.

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