Vicky Browning: What is the value of communications?

As she leaves CharityComms to head Acevo, our columnist explains why comms is not a luxury

Vicky Browning
Vicky Browning

This is my last column as director of CharityComms. By the time it's published I'll be about to begin my new role heading Acevo, the membership network for charity leaders. So what do I want the outgoing director of CharityComms to tell the incoming chief executive of Acevo about the value of communications?

First, in lean years as well as times of plenty (should they ever come again), communications is not a luxury. Don't put off investing in communications until your finances improve: think about how effective communications can help your bottom line.

Without properly resourced marketing and communications, charities will miss out on growth opportunities and chances to engage more fully with beneficiaries, donors, staff and other stakeholders, and could put their reputations at risk. And get integrated: mutually supportive, cross-organisational communications give you more bang for your buck.

Talking of bucks, chief executives need to be reminded that investing in communications is not the sole reserve of big charities with big budgets. A well-spent £500 can mean as much to a small charity as a £5m budget to a £50m organisation.

Expect a strong business case from your comms colleagues to show how their work will help deliver your organisation's strategy and objectives, how it will build and protect your brand and reputation and how it will tell the engaging stories that encourage support.

Chief executives that really understand the benefits of investing in communications will reap the rewards.

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