User-centred approach will generate greater impact, says Comic Relief boss

Samir Patel says the more organisations put people front and centre, the greater impact they can have

Samir Patel
Samir Patel

Working in a user-centred way will allow charities to create greater impact, according to Samir Patel, chief executive of Comic Relief.

Speaking at the think tank NPC’s virtual summer reception yesterday, Patel said user-centred working should be viewed as a philosophy, rather than something that charities needed an incentive to do.

Patel, who joined the charity in March, said his background in digital technology and user interface design had taught him the methods and frameworks to design and innovate in a way that put the user at the centre.

“It’s a philosophy that I’ve seen continually work across any sector, any situation; the more you put people front and centre, the more you design around people, the better things tend to go and the greater impact there is,” he said.

User-centred design originated with product design, but Patel said he believed “those principles can certainly be applied more broadly”.

At Comic Relief, he said the aim was to “think about what it is we’re offering and how we’re taking into account the people that are going to use it – and that’s both on the impact side and on the donor side.

“I just believe only good things can come from that.”

Patel went on to say that he believed that Comic Relief needed to work out how to “intrigue” those who might not be interested in social change through its cultural and entertainment events, such as Red Nose Day.

“The opportunity is in how culture can drive change – we’re an organisation that historically has dealt with big cultural moments like Red Nose Day or sporting events,” he said.

“That is a force for social change, and it’s also about meeting people where they are.

“If someone is watching broadcast television and doesn’t want to hear about gender justice, we have to take on that challenge and say, actually, how do we intrigue this person and just pique their interest enough that they do want to hear more?

“That ability to use culture for change and Comic Relief’s ability to do that is very strong.”

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