Third Sector Excellence Awards: Communications Team

The Scout Association overhauled its communications team and boosted fundraising income into the bargain.

Scout Association communications team
Scout Association communications team

Criteria:
For a team that has worked together to achieve or exceed its targets

Judging panel:
John Palmer, director of marketing and communications, the Scout Association (Note: John Palmer stood down from the deliberations after it became clear that the Scout Association’s entry was among the finalists)
Baroness Jill Pitkeathley, chair, Office of the Third Sector Advisory Board
Mike Wade, director of fundraising and communications, National Deaf Children’s Society

Finalists:
Beatbullying
British Red Cross
The Scout Association

Winner: The Scout Association
The 33-strong communications team of the Scout Association has been revolutionised in the past four years.
Until 2004, the Scouts admitted they had a poor image, despite a new logo, uniform and programme. So the team set about changing the public perception of the Scouts as being outdated or unfashionable.
This involved far-reaching changes in the team itself, including a requirement for each member to take a personality assessment and share the results with others. According to the charity’s entry for the award, this has engendered an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding. Regular staff meetings and bi-weekly debriefs from senior management allow junior staff to understand the strategic direction being taken by the charity.
Team away-days and training are regularly arranged and specific training schedules are drawn up for each member, added the charity’s entry. Major projects involve staff and
volunteers, including brainstorming days and regular meetings. Blue-sky thinking is encouraged throughout, and external agencies are often invited to provide outside views.
The entry says a completely new fund-raising campaign team was recruited, which increased its annual income from £700,000 to more than £5m in 12 months. Commercial partnerships, including with Sainsbury’s and Rolls-Royce, brought in extra income. The judges were particularly impressed by the way press coverage of the Scouts moved from being 20 per cent positive to 50 per cent positive.
One of the judges, Mike Wade, said: It seems they realised they needed to understand each other and see where the whole team was going. They developed an atmosphere of mutual respect, using the bi-weekly debriefs and getting the whole team together for brainstorming. Nor were they afraid to bring outsiders in to provide an external challenge. There is a sense of success coming through the whole application.
Baroness Jill Pitkeathley, another judge, said: The team had huge success in fundraising targets, including levels of awareness.

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