Put storytelling 'front and centre' of mass-participation events, says Children in Need chief

Simon Antrobus tells Third Sector's Fundraising Conference it is this that drives engagement and support

Simon Antrobus
Simon Antrobus

Charities should put storytelling and authenticity "front and centre" in mass-participation events if the events are to be successful, the chief executive of BBC Children in Need has told Third Sector’s Fundraising Conference.

Simon Antrobus told the conference this afternoon that mass participation-events needed to have a clear message to engage the public.

"Sometimes some of the smallest ideas can generate great results," he said. "The real thing for me is it has to feel authentic and inspiring.

"We talk a lot about storytelling, and the idea that you can inspire and engage people by telling a story, because that is the thing that drives engagement, participation and support for our charity."

For that reason, Antrobus said, it was not always necessary to have a large team running an event to get public participation, but it was about "the cut-through and messaging".

He said: "The ask is so important, because you have that opportunity only one or two times. Our storytelling needs to be front and centre and absolutely clear."

Antrobus said he felt that charities had to make sure people were made to feel like they were "not just donors", and added that "we want them to feel like they are part of the Children in Need family".

Charities have to communicate the "big message" in a relatively short space of time, he said, because "when you are telling these things, it needs to be told in two or three minutes to inspire people to engage".

Succession planning for events was also vital, said Antrobus, because "all good things sadly come to an end", particularly events fronted by celebrities, which "sometimes become reliant on a celebrity’s personality".

Antrobus said: "You have to accept there is a lifetime around them. You have to think about what is the next big thing to get involved in."

Charities also needed to think digitally, he said, and ensure content was shareable online and in person.

"It has to be something people want to get involved with and engaged in, something that is exciting," Antrobus said. "There’s lots of competition."

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