I am a podcast addict. Every morning I open the podcast app on my phone and check for new episodes. My obsession knows no bounds and I am following more podcasts than ever before.
A recent survey from the fundraising platform Enthuse found that 30 per cent of charities were using podcasts for digital fundraising, and a further 26 per cent were trialling them.
The RNLI recently launched its 200 Voices podcast ahead of its 200th anniversary in March 2024 and has achieved 49,000 downloads to date.
The podcast shares stories that reflect the RNLI’s history, featuring survivors, volunteers, lifeguards and celebrity supporters such as the actor Timothy Spall. It aims to demonstrate the breadth of the RNLI’s achievements and how it has saved and changed lives.
Rory Stamp, RNLI’s strategic content manager, says that the intimacy of the podcast experience offers “someone’s voice: their accent, emotional emphasis and choice of words goes straight into your ears – something that a web or print article can’t always achieve”.
Stamp also highlights the breadth and versatility of podcasts, which include everything from “multi-voice documentaries about crime and very personal journeys through difficult times, through to witty banter about sport and serious interviews about current affairs”.
Whatever your cause, podcasts can tell the story of what you do and why it matters. Cats Protection is launching a new podcast, Cat’s Got Your Tongue, in November.
The show will feature celebrities such as comedian Russell Kane talking about their positive experiences of cat ownership and will also offer expert advice about cat welfare and behaviour.
Alice Hammond, Cats Protection’s celebrity and influencer relationship manager, explains that podcasts offer benefits for charities, including “the soft influence of weaving messaging into entertaining, authentic editorial content, as well as having a new vehicle to engage our celebrity supporters and creating relevant new content for our own channels”.
And podcasting is not just the preserve of large charities. Pause, the charity that supports women who have experienced or are at risk of children being removed from their care, started its In a Mother’s Mind podcast to highlight the mental health impact on its beneficiaries.
The podcast was the charity’s first co-produced creative project. Fi Gilligan, Pause’s communications officer, explains: “Women who work with Pause are so used to being extensively questioned by professionals. A main goal of our podcast was to disrupt this usual dynamic. Rather than being interviewed, it is the women who ask the questions.”
Podcasts can be a powerful way to centre lived experience, and you could reinforce this by providing a transcript of the recordings to make them accessible.
They also offer a light-touch way to engage your audience. The Directory of Social Change’s Charity Questions podcast answers any question that listeners submit, covering anything from fundraising to policy to queries about chief executive Debra Allcock Tyler’s dog, Arthur.
José Blázquez, DSC’s marketing and product development manager, explains that the main aim is to “bring in guests who are experts in different areas of our sector and can provide high-quality answers to our listeners’ questions clearly and engagingly”.
This kind of informal engagement can be a good way to build a community around your brand.
There are many charity podcasts to explore. But what surprised me when researching this piece was how few charities seem to be advertising on other podcasts.
I also rarely hear charity leaders as guests on mainstream podcasts outside the sector. Why don’t we see more charity leaders on Diary of a CEO (the leadership podcast), or The News Agents (which focuses on current affairs), both of which have large audiences?
Podcasts can be a great tool for influencing and campaigning. Creating your own podcast and appearing on others could help your charity reach a whole new audience.
Zoe Amar is founder of Zoe Amar Digital