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Annual Review 2020

Highlights and activities

Our key achievements and challenges over the past year, plus the CharityComms statement of accounts for 2019-2020

Sarah Clarke

Sarah Clarke


Sarah Clarke is Head of membership at CharityComms, looking after all things membership as well as overseeing many of our data and partnerhsip projects. 

Section 1


Adeela Warley

Adeela Warley

CEO at CharityComms

Adeela joined us as CEO in Feb 2017, having previously been a CharityComms trustee and Head of communications at Friends of the Earth.

Mark Russell

Mark Russell

Chair of Trustees at CharityComms

Mark was appointed as CharityComms Chair in March 2019 and has previously been Chair of the Cleft Lip and Palate Association.


A year of challenges, resilience and support

In our introduction to last year’s report, we recognised the role of communicators on the frontline – helping charities steer their way through a volatile and complex world. Little did we know then that that volatility and complexity would intensify, and we would find ourselves operating in the context of a global pandemic.

Charities have felt the impact acutely, operating as we do across society and often working alongside the public sector, providing services, and ensuring resilience and support when and where people need it most.

Stepping up to the challenge

We are proud to say that CharityComms has stepped up to this challenge, alongside our members. We continued to build on strong foundations in 2019-20, increasing the diversity of the team and the Board, implementing governance best practice, growing membership further, delivering more events, building more digital capability in our platforms, and continuing to share and create content to support our members.

We were therefore able to retain significant reserves (in excess of our reserves policy of £261,000, equivalent to 6 months support costs), which has proved vital to our response to the current, difficult situation, and delivered a smaller than budgeted deficit for this financial year, of £21,384.

Adapting our content and platforms

Towards the end of this reporting period, CharityComms was able to use these foundations and adapt quickly to Covid-19 and the lockdown measures, and the pressures faced by the sector. We did this by helping to build sector consensus, as well as representing our members’ interests, and by ramping up our support to members using new platforms and content especially relevant to communicators – from crisis management, to internal communications and lobbying.

We have also continued to do the day job, helping members and other charities continue the shift toward digital communications and capacity, showcase their impact on beneficiaries, and build trust and engagement across their stakeholders and supporters. 

Adverse effects and revised budget planning

But, like many of the charities that we support and represent, we are not immune to the adverse effects of Covid-19 and the lockdown measures introduced by the government. As we moved events from face-to-face to digital platforms in March and April, our income from events was impacted, and 2020-21 will prove to be a challenging, as well as a rewarding year.

Our revised budget planning means we will be drawing substantially on our reserves in 2020-21 – a course of action encouraged by the Charity Commission, and a decision we have taken in recognition of the responsibility we have to support and champion communications and communicators during an extraordinary period. A period when the very best work of communicators’ work will be having the greatest impact of all.

As a going concern, then, we are comfortable that CharityComms is in a relatively stable position, but we envisage more work will be required to adapt our operating and income model over the coming year, as we adjust our events programme and pricing, and protect services to members.


Building, sharing and growing

Charities have never been more needed, and we feel CharityComms has never been more important to its members.

This report highlights the way in which we have continued to build member services and share best practice, growing a network of communicators supporting each other and sharing knowledge which will serve us all well as we venture through the next phase of the pandemic.

We thank all our members, supporters, and contributors, without whom our work would be impossible. We must also thank the Trustees and CharityComms team, who continue to create a friendly, supportive, and professional community for our members, with energy, innovation and resourcefulness.

Section 2

Objectives and activities

Why we’re here and what we’ve achieved this year

Our vision

We enable every charity to value and use effective communications for a better world.

Our purpose

We champion the value of communications and continually improve the quality of communications by connecting and inspiring our community.

Our goals by 2023


More and better resources will be available to help charity communicators improve their skills and the impact of their work.


Communications will be recognised across the sector as an integral part of the effectiveness of charities.


Charities will have SMT/senior board representation from communications (i.e. an equal voice at the top table).

The planning and delivery of charities’ communications is aligned with their brand and organisational strategy.

CharityComms’ theory of change


communications create change


charities create change


charities that communicate better, create better change

Headlines from 2019-2020 on how we’re working to create change for our members


  • Deficit of £21,384 as we continued to invest in services for our members.
  • Reserves maintained at a healthy level of £345,075 – well above our reserves policy threshold.

96% of our members believe ‘learning from best practice’ is their most important membership benefit followed by free seminars at 95%.

organisational members

individual members

corporate partners

90% of members rate “feeling more connected to the sector” as one of the most important aspects of their membership and 78% listed “networking with other comms professionals”.


Mentoring scheme

The matching service we run exclusively for our members to support their professional career development. This service continues to be more vital than ever and in 2019-2020 we matched 228 people working in comms with a mentor.

97% of our conference delegates and 92% of our seminar delegates rated our events positively.

events delivered face-to-face and online

event delegates

91% of our conference delegates and 88% of our seminar delegates said that they acquired new knowledge or enhanced skills relevant to their job after attending a CharityComms event.

Digital benchmark

  • Our Digital Benchmark participants now number 68 – so even more members can track and improve their digital performance.

  • The Digital Benchmark also won the “Most effective use of data” category in The Drum’s 2020 Digital Advertising Awards, with our Digital Benchmark partner agency, upriseUP.

“A worthwhile investment, access to lots of really interesting and useful stats that help make informed comparisons against peers, sharing of insights more generally and can help when building business cases for digital investment.”

Room for improvement

  • 80% of members would recommend CharityComms to others working in the sector – which we would like to see move closer to 100%!

  • The average score for how well-informed members felt about their benefits was 5 out of 10.

  • Digital Benchmark – we know not all participants are currently using the benchmark to its full potential, so we are working on improving our onboarding and reporting process and creating more user guides.

Section 3

Public benefit

How we deliver our services to members

The trustees confirm that they have complied with the requirement set out in the Charities (Accounts and Reports) Regulations 2008 to report on how they have carried out their charity’s purposes for the public benefit, and have complied with their duty to have due regard to the Charity Commission’s public benefit guidance when exercising any powers or duties to which the guidance is relevant.

A unique community

CharityComms was established to promote the efficiency and effectiveness of charities, not for profit organisations and voluntary organisations, for the benefit of the public throughout the UK, by the provision of resources to optimise their communications.

In short, we exist to help our members and others communicate more effectively, more efficiently, and to the benefit of all stakeholders and beneficiaries.

To do this, we have created a unique community of communicators willing to share with and learn from each other. We use a membership model to do this, although some of our resources are open to all.

Our free or low-cost resources, skills and best practice sharing and training, and unrivalled access to data and insight, are all aimed at raising the standard of communications across the charity sector. The following summary of our significant activities demonstrates how we deliver both our mission and our public benefit.


Section 4

Charitable purpose

How we work to raise the standard of communications 

At CharityComms, our aim is to connect, inform, empower, and inspire comms professionals in the charity sector. We are working with our members and the wider communications community to raise the standard of communications in not-for-profits, to enable them to deliver their world-changing missions more effectively. 

From our membership scheme and events to our best practice guides, reports, support for professional development and web and social media content, we aim to listen and respond to our members to deliver a service that meets their needs and exceeds their expectations.






Section 5

Business Plan

1 May 2019 – 30 April 2020

Focus for the year (Business Plan 1 May 2019 – 30 April 2020)

Improving our systems
Development of our key membership relationship tool (Salesforce); the creation of a member portal; data cleansing and systems integration (between finance systems, CRM, and website).


Continuing to provide better service and access through digital
Develop and test website specialist hubs to support an explicit learning approach, enable continuous improvement, cross-purpose content and improve accessibility and usability.

Best practice governance
Implementation of our Governance review recommendations, and improvement of finance procedures, controls and reporting, and HR policies.

In March 2020 when the Covid 19 health crisis arrived and lockdown started, trustees and staff agreed a new contingency business plan, budget and KPIs with a focus on:

Moving our 2020 event programme into an online format, as well as adding additional workshops to the programme to help meet the needs of members.

Supporting our members (and the sector) through the Coronavirus crisis with timely and relevant content and signposting; and ensuring our mentoring programme could work in an online format.

Completing our website refresh to better showcase our offering and the brilliant content already in the Knowledge Hub.

Keeping relationships positive and collaborative with charities, members, corporate partners, sponsors, and freelancers as we navigate the Coronavirus crisis. Bring these groups together for vital information sharing and networking opportunities regularly.


Ensuring members understood better the value of their membership and our role in championing the value of strategic communications.

Section 6


Bringing our community together

Sarah Clarke

Sarah Clarke

Head of membership

Sarah is Head of membership at CharityComms, looking after all things membership as well as overseeing many of our data projects and reports. 

Supporting our comms community

Our membership community is our greatest asset and our primary concern is to support this community of communications professionals, which includes organisations that are charities and not for profits, corporates that include Third Sector focused agencies, and individuals.

This year our focus has been on inspiring and sharing members’ stories, enabling the community to support each other and feel part of a bigger team, building a new online community platform offering support through peer networking, sharing and mentoring.

organisational members

individual members

corporate partners

“Being a corporate partner of CharityComms has been extremely valuable for us. We have received a lot of interest from the non-profit community through being listed as a CharityComms supplier and we signed a new client just weeks after joining!”

– Corporate partner, June 2019

Listening and responding to feedback

We’ve found new and more frequent ways to listen to member needs, conducting unique and insightful surveys that we use to inform everyone in how to communicate better. And we created and shared relevant resources, guides and knowledge across areas we know from feedback were important to members, including mental health and well-being. At our AGM in October 2019, we also welcomed four new Trustees nominated from our membership base and elected by members. 50% of our Board Trustees were voted for by members.

We have transformed our face to face events portfolio into a compelling, innovative and more accessible online experience and introduced an on-demand service to increase access to our great content. We have also championed our members, continuing to hold our ‘Inspiring Communicators Awards, and running #MeetAFreelancer and #NeverMoreNeeded campaigns.

“Firstly just to say thank you, for all your and your colleagues’ work at CharityComms, because it’s really helped feel connected and part of something bigger, at this time – the webinars and updates have been really timely and helpful.”

– Organisational member, April 2020

Making connections

90% of members rate “feeling more connected to the sector” as one of the most important aspects of their membership, according to our members survey from Jan 2020, while 97% listed “learning from best practice” and 94% cited “gaining new ideas and inspiration” as being one their main membership benefits.

Creating an online community

We had been scoping the creation of a new online communicators community from late 2019 and fully launched our new network in March 2020, offering members a chance to network with each other as well as share ideas and inspiration and access member-only resources.

“It’s really nice to think I have a whole other community to turn to with any questions – so please keep up your great work too!”

“Loving the look and feel of the new platform by the way. You guys have done a great job of getting content on so that we’re not walking into ‘an empty room’ :)”

New members of our online community

Room for improvement

We also know that there’s lots of room for improvement – 80% would recommend CharityComms to others working in the sector (which we would like to see move closer to 100%!) while the average score for how well informed members felt about their benefits was 5 out of 10.

#MeetAFreelancer campaign

Our #MeetAFreelancer campaign launched on 27 March 2020 to highlight the fantastic work of our individual freelance members.

The campaign is ongoing, and we also plan to incorporate videos for freelancers and our corporate partners to help promote their services more widely to the charity sector.


“I secured a new client as a result of your ‘meet the freelancer’ initiative. A couple of ex-colleagues RTd your tweet, which led to one of their connections getting in touch with me about support with brand messaging and marketing support. So, thanks!” 

– Freelancer member

Promoting the value of communications

Remaining connected to our members and asking for regular feedback ensures not only that we can provide the most relevant and effective events, content and services, but that we can continue to promote the value of comms at all levels within the wider charity sector. Our 2019 Salary and Organisational Culture Report tells us that more than half of charity communicators feel communications were more valued over the past year with more respondents feeling their current role is helping to progress their long-term career (74%, up from 71% in 2017).

Perceived value of communications is not just an important indicator for the sector, but for individuals: our survey told us that those who feel communications is becoming less valued are 174% more likely to change jobs in the next six months than those who think it has become more valued in the last year.

“I think we’ve seen the increasing professionalisation of communications as a discipline – and increasing respect given to communicators as professionals – over the last few years. Which is very welcome!”

– Manager/Lead

Continuing to adapt and respond

As the charity sector continues to adapt and respond to external factors, we will continue to listen to our members and work with them to provide the best possible service that we can.

“I am really impressed with everything CharityComms is doing at the moment.”

Corporate partner, April 2020

Section 7

Mentoring scheme

Offering peer support and career development

Lally Wentworth

Lally Wentworth

Mentoring manager

Lally looks after our mentoring matching service, making sure that both mentors and mentees get the best experience from our scheme.

A unique matching service

Our mentoring scheme continues to be one of our most appreciated and utilised membership benefits for our organisational members, with 228 mentee applications and 206 matches with mentors made during the year 2019-2020.

Sharing knowledge and experience in this way proves to be rewarding for both parties, and we receive as much positive feedback from mentors as we do mentees. We take care to match people, topics and challenges and are always on hand to support the process.

matches made

  • 69 matches in 2017-2018
  • 197 matches in 2018-2019
  • 206 matches in 2019-2020

Who applies for the scheme?

Officers and managers from our network are those most likely to seek a mentor. Applicants come from charities of all sizes, but those working for charities in our largest charity band (>£10million) are most common.

Applicants work in a broad range of comms divisions, with the most frequent applicants coming from PR or digital/media teams.

Comms division of applicants in 2019

  • digital / social media 29% 29%
  • creative / editorial / film / brand / content 5% 5%
  • media / PR 24% 24%
  • fundraising 1% 1%
  • marketing 12% 12%
  • campaigns / policy / public affairs 11% 11%
  • membership 2% 2%
  • general comms 16% 16%

Comms division of applicants in 2020

  • digital / social media 21% 21%
  • creative / editorial / film / brand / content 7% 7%
  • media / PR 17% 17%
  • fundraising 2% 2%
  • marketing 9% 9%
  • campaigns / policy / public affairs 7% 7%
  • membership 9% 9%
  • general comms 18% 18%

What our mentees say

“I enjoy my discussions with my mentor, they are helping me think about how to juggle the needs of being a senior leader in the organisation with the demands of the day-to-day Comms grind! I appreciate his insight and ideas and am really grateful to CharityComms for facilitating the scheme and the introduction.”

“My mentor provided excellent mentoring to me at a challenging crossroads in my career. She is a good listener and adviser, and she created a safe space for me to discuss my concerns, my successes, and my failures! I am very grateful for my mentor’s guidance this past year and I will use it going forward to continue to seek to achieve my career goals.”

Themes of mentoring objectives

Objectives from applicants tend mostly to be about being in a new job role and ‘stepping up’, and wanting a mentor to talk through the challenges. We have lots of applicants wanting to brainstorm what their next steps might be and how to get ahead in their charity communications career. Applicants also want to discuss specific comms challenges and leadership of comms teams.

Main themes of applicants in 2019

  • new role or promotion 18% 18%
  • specific comms challenge 26% 26%
  • combined new role and specific challenge 19% 19%
  • career progression 27% 27%
  • leadership or people management 9% 9%

Main themes of applicants in 2020

  • new role or promotion 27% 27%
  • specific comms challenge 12% 12%
  • combined new role and specific challenge 14% 14%
  • career progression 36% 36%
  • leadership or people management 11% 11%

What our mentors say

“It helped me develop my leadership and mentoring skills that I can use with my team.”

“I feel that the placement with my mentee was considered and that I could offer help in the areas that they were particularly keen on focussing on.”

Section 8


Inspiring, sharing and networking

Vanessa Weddell

Vanessa Weddell

Head of events

Vanessa is responsible for our events portfolio, overseeing more than 70 events each year.

Hanna-Mariam Chowdhury

Hanna-Mariam Chowdhury

Events officer

Hanna works on our networking groups and special interest groups.

Emma Wickenden

Emma Wickenden

Senior events producer

Emma gathers content and speakers for our major events, including our annual digital conference.

Lauren Haizel-Cobbina

Lauren Haizel-Cobbina

Events and membership assistant

Lauren helps to organise and manage our events portfolio, working on logistics and communications. 

Offering inspiration and best practice

Our events programme continues to offer inspiration, best practice, and support to communications professionals of varied seniority levels, comms specialisms and geographical locations.

This year we ran 70 events (including seminars, conferences, special interest groups, UK-wide groups, workshops, and networking events) attended by nearly 4,400 charity communications professionals.

These events continue to be a key benefit of membership, and we use our special insight into the sector and communications issues to ensure content, speakers and resources are what members need.

in-person and online events


This year we ran 70 events (including seminars, conferences, special interest groups, UK-wide groups, workshops, and networking events) attended by nearly 4,400 charity communications professionals.

These events continue to be a key benefit of membership, and we use our special insight into the sector and communications issues to ensure content, speakers and resources are what members need.

“Got a lot out of this day and it was very helpful to meet with other comms professionals working in a small charity setting. I came away encouraged to hear that many people face the same challenges of limited time and budget and are still finding creative ways to produce valuable communications. Many thanks to all involved for organising such a great programme.”

– delegate at our Small Charities Conference

Small Charities Conference

We brought 118 small charity members together for the Small Charities Conference in June 2019. We also helped 81 small charity members learn vital media messaging skills via two free workshops this year.

Special interest and UK-wide networking groups

We continued to run, and our existing special interest groups for brand, PR and media, creative, internal comms, digital and campaigning professionals our UK-wide group events, supporting communicators in Wales, Scotland, SW, NW, and the Midlands.

“I always find it reassuring when I go to the @CharityComms #CharityDigital meetups. Yes, I am prioritising the right things. Yes, loads of other people have similar frustrations. Yes, there are ways to overcome the challenges. I am re-inspired just when I need it! Thanks as always.”

– attendee at one of our Heads of Digital network events

Wellbeing resources and support

Recognising the growing importance of the wellbeing of comms professionals, we held a dedicated seminar and launched a new Wellbeing Guide to support the communications community.

Career and leadership events

We held a brand-new conference on Getting Ahead in Your Comms Career in June. We also held two series of Stepping into Comms Leadership workshops to support those looking to make the transition into senior leadership. Hack Yourself, Learn to Lead and Leadership Readiness rounded out our career support events programme

“This was the best CharityComms event I’ve attended yet. It’s opened up a big conversation in our organisation about mental health and wellbeing and actions are already being made by senior leadership to improve staff wellbeing – thank you!”

– delegate at our Wellbeing in charity communications Seminar, December 2019

Charity Digital Conference

We welcomed 332 delegates at our Charity Digital Conference in November 2019 – our six-stream programme was a big hit, as were keynote speakers Bruce Daisley, author, and vice president, EMEA, Twitter, and Greg Owen, Co- founder, iwantPrEPnow.

Engagment strategies conference

We held our largest ever event in April – an online conference on Engagement strategies for charities in a Coronavirus dominated world and beyond. 731 people registered to attend the event, and we reached a wide audience across the UK and abroad too.

“Informative, interesting and utterly inspirational! Top class speakers who were engaging and entertaining. I have waxed lyrical about this conference to my colleagues and managers and am already using what I learned and the contacts I made to foster change. The conference has given me a renewed passion for upping our digital anti! I’ve already asked if our whole team can attend next year as my only frustration was not being able to attend all of the brilliant range of breakout sessions.”

“Felt really smoothly run, well curated and always interesting – particularly impressive seeing how much bigger you’ve grown it this year. And a good mix of sessions for different levels of knowledge/seniority.”

Delegates at our Charity Digital Conference, November 2019

Events feedback

97% of our conference delegates and 92% of our seminar delegates rated our events positively.

91% of our conference delegates and 88% of seminar delegates said that they acquired new knowledge or enhanced skills relevant to their job after attending a CharityComms event.

“I just wanted to feedback that I think the whole event was brilliant! Fantastic moderating and chairing, great organisation using really flexible tech and a really interesting and inspiring panel as well as such great offline content. Thank you so much, I came away feeling encouraged, inspired, heard and comforted that I am not alone with some of these challenges! Many thanks again…how do I sign up to the next one?!”

“Thought provoking. Bursting with insight and care. Thanks so much. Biggest and best Zoom I’ve ever been in.”

“Hats off to @CharityComms for the planning and great logistics (not to mention the content) of their #CCEngagement conference. A brilliant example of digital best practice in action.”

– delegates at our Engagement strategies for charities in a Coronavirus dominated world and beyond Conference, April 2020

Thank you!

We’d like to say thank you to Sarah Cutress, our Membership and events officer, who left us in 2019.

Section 9

Digital content

From a revised website design to new look reports on wellbeing and organisational culture

Christine Fleming

Christine Fleming

Head of digital content

Christine is responsible for managing our digital content across the website and social, as well as leading on digital development and projects.

Adel Hanily

Adel Hanily

Digital content officer

Adel is the digital content officer at CharityComms, leading on all of our social media.

Throughout 2019-2020 CharityComms continued to work hard to produce digital content to inspire and motivate members.

Championing effective and thoughtful charity communication across the sector, we worked with a range of sector peers to produce over 100 new articles for the Knowledge Hub, add two new Best Practice Guides and new look reports on Wellbeing and Salary & Organisational Culture, add additional content to the existing FilmKit guide and develop new ad hoc resource pages.

Working to improve content and increase viewers

In headline terms, all the work to improve digital content across the site led to a 3.8% growth in page views across the site in 2019-2020 compared to 2018-19 – taking this number up to 639,678. As well as a 4.7% increase in Knowledge Hub specific views from the previous year’s 190,845 to 215,514.

All of this was achieved in what was a particularly challenging year for the digital content team including major capacity issues and of course the advent of Coronavirus towards the end of the year which led to a rethink of all of our content.

Knowledge Hub views (+4.7% from 2019)

website users (up from 165,295 in 2019)

page views (+3.8% from 2019)

CharityComms focus in the last 12 months has continued to be to create valuable free content to a rising number of readers. We have sought to add value and improve the member experience by providing excellent content that is widely promoted through eNews and our social media channels and have seen users on increase from 165,295 last year to 187,574 this year.

New best practice guides

A particularly strong source of traffic for us has been the two new format Best Practice Guides that were added in 2019/2020 and the previous two we released the year before – all of which featured in the top 10 most popular articles on our site.

The Wellbeing Guide in particular has been a top performer for us this year with some 7,791 page views since launching in September 2019.

Twitter followers

eNews subscribers

Growing our digital communities

In terms of our other digital communities, the subscriber numbers for our eNews mailout continued to remain high with over 9,000 individuals signed up to eNews at the end of the year, and our Twitter following grew from 42,166 in 2018-2019 to over 45,000 by the end of 2019-2020.

Aside from the range of content we delivered in 2019-2020, towards the end of the year we were also working hard behind the scenes preparing for the relaunch of our podcast service and the delivery of the new look website refresh – both of which were completed in the first quarter of 2020.

Molly Clarke

Molly Clarke

Thank you!

We’d like to say thank you to Molly, our former digital content officer, who left the CharityComms digital team during 2019-2020.

“Another fantastic blog focusing on all things charity communications, CharityComms features articles and podcasts from many guest experts on topics such as branding, marketing analytics, online fundraising, campaigning and storytelling. Its charity case studies are worth a browse, as well as its frequently updated guides and reports.”

– Charity Digital News listing us as one of 16 excellent digital resources for charities

Section 10


Connecting charities and journalists

Stacey Kelly-Maher

Stacey Kelly-Maher

Digital projects officer

Stacey looks after our Digital Benchmark, supplier and freelance directories, AskCharity and jobs board, as well as working on special data projects such as our salary survey.


Making media connections

AskCharity is CharityComms’ free media matching service, helping journalists and other bodies find the right charity to talk to when they want information or guidance. It aims to ensure media stories are well researched and can draw on the relevant data and personal experiences of those affected.

Engagement with AskCharity has continued to grow throughout the year and particularly since lockdown started in March 2020. April’s increase in the number of charities signing up was 74% above our 2019 monthly average, with just over 3,700 charity contacts currently listed. Journalist requests were up 51% on last year’s monthly average and we currently have more than 4,200 journalists registered.

increase in charity sign-ups in April 2020

charity participants during 2020

journalists registered with our service

We have worked with our corporate partners and others to share resources such as media trackers and consultancy time, free messaging and training workshops for our members.

We have also been working on making sure the service is as effective as possible and a data cleaning exercise has so far resulted in an 80% increase in journalist sign-ins in April 2020 compared to 2019.

Section 11

Digital Benchmark

A unique collaboration helping charities improve their online performance

Stacey Kelly-Maher

Stacey Kelly-Maher

Digital projects officer

Stacey looks after our Digital Benchmark, supplier and freelance directories, AskCharity and jobs board, as well as working on special data projects such as our salary survey.

Comparing and evaluating data

The Digital Benchmark is a service CharityComms provides to members, where charities share data anonymously in order to improve everyone’s performance.

The Benchmark continues to provide crucial data and evidence for our 68 charity participants to support strategic thinking and their investment in digital.

We were proud and delighted to win in the “Most effective use of data” category in The Drum’s 2020 Digital Advertising Awards with our Digital Benchmark partner agency, upriseUP.

Other nominees this year included agencies working on projects with John Lewis, ITV, the Financial Times and Ralph Lauren.

“I love the filters. I think this has made the report a much more valuable insight into how we should be performing for an organisation of our size/income/sector and allows us to benchmark accurately.”

“It has helped inform the business plan for the redevelopment of our new website and will help us develop our new web and digital strategies.”

Updates and future improvements

Feedback from participants has told us that developments such as improved filters and more visual representation of data has helped their user experience.

87% of participants say that they would like a regular key findings report and we also know that not all participants are currently using the benchmark to its full potential, so we are working on improving our onboarding and reporting process and creating more user guides.

The next update of the benchmark will include speed increases and a fuller e-commerce roll-out, as well as improved case studies and user resources.

“It’s a useful resource that can help you establish the ‘digital health’ of your charities. It can also provide practical evidence for your strategic decision-making, objectives and KPIs and give context to evaluations.”

“It’s a really useful way of measuring what you’re doing against competitors and now that you can filter a lot of it by team sizes, budgets or sectors it’s become much more helpful.”

“A worthwhile investment, access to lots of really interesting and useful stats that help make informed comparisons against peers, sharing of insights more generally and can help when building business cases for digital investment.”

Thank you!

We would like to thank digital marketing agency, upriseUP, and digital expert, Bertie Bosrédon, for their invaluable advice and assistance with the benchmark so that we can provide the best possible product for participating charities. 

Section 12

Partnerships and collaboration

The positive impact of #NeverMoreNeeded

Working together to increase our impact

CharityComms has always worked with others to increase efficiency, reach and impact.

We work with corporate partners, freelancers, other sector bodies including the Media Trust and the Small Charities Coalition to maximise access to learning and development. This approach is one of the key pillars of our new organisational strategy 2020 -2023.

Covid19 has had an existential impact on the charity sector. Charities have worked tirelessly to continue their work and to be part of a fair and just recovery.

CharityComms has played a key role, working in coalition with sector bodies to create the #NeverMoreNeeded campaign. We have led the communications work, developing a powerful narrative, website, and case for support. 

Although outside this period, in June 2020 we secured a one-off grant from the Lloyds Foundation of £20,000 to support the sector wide communications effort and CharityComms is managing this grant on behalf of the sector. Additional donation of £2,000 has so far been received from participating organisations.

Estimated social media reach of #NeverMoreNeeded

#NeverMoreNeeded on Twitter
#NeverMoreNeeded campaign
#NeverMoreNeeded campaign
#NeverMoreNeeded campaign
#NeverMoreNeeded campaign

Section 13

Report of the trustees

Structure, governance, management and financial activities for 2019 – 2020

Joseph Fadahunsi

Joseph Fadahunsi

Finance and governance manager

Joseph leads, delivers and develops the finance and governance management functions at CharityComms.

Our trustees

Kirsty Marrins

Kirsty Marrins

CJ Marshall

CJ Marshall

Mark Russell

Mark Russell

Lucy Devine

Lucy Devine

Jessica Abelscroft

Jessica Abelscroft

Chrystyna Chymera-Holloway

Chrystyna Chymera-Holloway

Pip Gardner

Pip Gardner

Justin Driskill

Justin Driskill

Katherine Hall

Katherine Hall

Financial review

Financial position

The year reported a total income of £738,267 (£793,326 in 2019), including membership and events income, legacies and donations. We spent £759,651 on charitable activities and supporting our members (2019: £741,956), leaving a deficit at year end of £21,384 (and a surplus in 2019: £51,370).

Reserves policy

The charitable company retained its reserves policy in the year. This is at the same level as 2019, reflecting six months of our current staffing and support costs.(estimated at £261,000). The total net assets of the charitable company are all classified as unrestricted reserves and stand at £345,075 at 30 April 2020. The reserves policy of the Charity is therefore met.

Going concern

The financial statements have been prepared on a going concern basis. The deficit of £21,384 shown in the accounts was slightly less than our budgeted deficit for the year, reflecting improved performance on income and costs.

However, towards the end of the period and as lockdown happened, we were required to adapt face to face events into virtual, online events, changing our operating approach and income model. The impact of a revised events programme and income model, and the pressure on budgets of our Members, represent the most significant threat to our ongoing financial health. With healthy reserves, though, it was the Trustees’ opinion that now was the time for CharityComms to step up, continuing to invest in services and be there in our Members’ hour of need. We have therefore approved the draw down, if required, of nearly half our reserves in the financial year 2020-21, in order to maintain services to our communications community at a time when good communication is more important than ever.

CharityComms has also revised its budgets and operational plan based on the impact of Covid 19 in this financial year, using assumptions on reduced events income and a drop off in membership renewals. At the time of writing these assumptions have proved to be conservative, and we enjoy strong membership renewal but need to focus on new models for income generation from online events.

In short, the revised budgeted income and expenditure is considered sufficient, alongside an agreed drawdown on some reserves, to allow the charity to  continue as a going concern.

Risk management

The trustees have a risk management strategy which comprises:

  • a quarterly standing item on the Board agenda reviewing key risks and policies
  • the establishment of policies, systems, and procedures to mitigate those risks identified in the risk register
  • the implementation of procedures designed to minimise or manage any potential impact on the charity should those risks materialise
  • for a period during the Covid-19 lockdown, more frequent Board meetings reviewing specific KPIs and indicators associated with key risks, including income reductions and membership renewals.

This work has identified that financial sustainability is the major financial risk for the charity. A key element in the management of financial risk is a regular review of available liquid funds to settle debts as they fall due, daily review of banking activities, and active management of membership and events debtors and creditors balances to ensure sufficient working capital.

Further mitigation has involved the monthly review of prepaid subscriptions of membership fees and events places to ensure that the receipts are accrued prudently as income deferred and thus provided for as current liabilities in the accounts.

Attention has also been focused on non-financial risks to ensure the health and safety of staff at work. The charity has in place a non-contributory EAP scheme through Assured Health, provides extra guidance on safer ways of working from home, engages in regular assessments of staff wellness and wellbeing via weekly team virtual meetings and activities. These risks are also managed by ensuring accreditation is up to date, having robust policies and procedures in place and regular awareness training for staff working in these operational areas.

Structure, governance and management


The charity is controlled by its governing document, the Memorandum and Articles of Association, and constitutes a limited company, limited by guarantee, as defined by the Companies Act 2006.

The governing document was reviewed in the year to ensure it remains fit for purpose, in tune with changing regulations in time and cover the objects for which members strongly identify with. The overhaul of the governing document was achieved in liaison with our legal advisers and approved at our AGM in October 2019

Following a review of our Governance Manual in 2019 we have adopted this as an action document to support a culture of best practice and continuous improvement within the charity.

Changes to our trustee board

The following changes have been made to our trustee board during the year:

  • Hanif Leylabi stepped down as trustee and vice chair on 10 October, 2019.
  • Clive Gardener, stepped down as trustee on 10 October, 2019.
  • Stephen Critoph stepped down as trustee and treasurer on 1 April, 2020.
  • Pip Gardner – appointed 10 October, 2019
  • Justin Driskill – appointed 10 October, 2019
  • Kirsty Marrins – appointed 10 October, 2019
  • Curtis-James Marshall (Vice Chair) – appointed 10 October, 2019

Decision making

The charity is run by the board of trustees, which sets and monitors strategy and policy. The board receives quarterly reports of all the activities of the charity. A minimum of one full strategy review meeting is held each year.

In recent times and in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the board meets more frequently to review the currency of the situation against set KPIs and to provide necessary support to the team to ensure that the team’s new working culture is effective and efficient.

Induction and training of new trustees

New trustees receive an induction pack drawing information from the various Charity Commission publications signposted through the Commission’s guide “the Essential Trustee”.

Trustees receive the following governing documents: our Governance manual, Memorandum and Articles and the latest financial statements and management accounts, the organisational strategy and annual business plan including the financial budget. The respective documents which cover:

  • The obligations of trustees, the CEO and senior management team
  • The main documents which set out the operational framework for the charity including the memorandum and articles
  • Resourcing and the current financial position as set out in the latest published accounts
  • Future plans and objectives, vision and values
  • Trustee training programme, including self-learning, external training, and peer support to ensure high performance and continuous learning
  • Additionally, new trustees are invited and encouraged to proactively familiarise themselves with the charity and the context within which it operates.

Key management remuneration

The board of directors, who are the charity’s trustees, together with the senior management team constitute the key management personnel of the charity and are in charge of directing, controlling, running, and operating the Trust on a day to day basis. All directors give of their time freely and no director received remuneration in the year. The pay of the senior staff is reviewed annually and normally increased in accordance with average earnings. In view of the nature of the charity, the directors benchmark against pay levels in other charities of a similar size.

Reference and administrative details

Registered company details

Registered Company number
06210121 (England and Wales)

Registered Charity number

Registered office
2-6 Tenter Ground
London E1 7NH


Jess Ablescroft
Chrystyna Chymera-Holloway
Stephen Critoph (Treasurer) – resigned 1 April 2020
Lucy Devine
Justin Driskill – appointed 10 October 2019
Clive Gardiner – resigned 10 October 2019
Pip Gardner – appointed 10 October 2019
Katherine Hall
Hanif Leylabi – resigned 10 October 2019
Kirsty Marrins – appointed 10 October 2019
Curtis-James Marshall (Vice Chair) – appointed 10 October 2019
Mark Russell (Chair)

Senior managers and company secretary

Senior Managers
Title: Chief Executive Officer
Name: A Warley
Appointment/Resignation: 20.2.17

Company Secretary
J O Fadahunsi

Independent examiner, bankers and legal advisers

Independent examiner
30 New Road, Brighton
East Sussex BN1 1BN

The Co-operative Bank PLC
Business Direct, PO Box 250
Lancashire WN8 6WT

Legal Advisers
100 Wood Street
London EC2V 7AN

Independent examiner's report

I report to the charity trustees on my examination of the accounts of the Company for the year ended 30 April 2020.

Responsibilities and basis of report

As the charity’s trustees of the Company (and also its directors for the purposes of company law) you are responsible for the preparation of the accounts in accordance with the requirements of the Companies Act 2006 (‘the 2006 Act’). Having satisfied myself that the accounts of the Company are not required to be audited under Part 16 of the 2006 Act and are eligible for independent examination, I report in respect of my examination of your charity’s accounts as carried out under section 145 of the Charities Act 2011 (‘the 2011 Act’). In carrying out my examination I have followed the Directions given by the Charity Commission under section 145(5) (b) of the 2011 Act.

Independent examiner’s statement

Since your charity’s gross income exceeded £250,000 your examiner must be a member of a listed body. I can confirm that I am qualified to undertake the examination because I am a registered member of Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales which is one of the listed bodies.

I have completed my examination. I confirm that no matters have come to my attention in connection with the examination
giving me cause to believe:

  • accounting records were not kept in respect of the Company as required by section 386 of the 2006 Act; or
  • the accounts do not accord with those records; or
  • the accounts do not comply with the accounting requirements of section 396 of the 2006 Act other than any requirement that the accounts give a true and fair view which is not a matter considered as part of an independent examination; or
  • the accounts have not been prepared in accordance with the methods and principles of the Statement of Recommended Practice for accounting and reporting by charities (applicable to charities preparing their accounts in accordance with the Financial Reporting Standard applicable in the UK and Republic of Ireland (FRS 102)).

I have no concerns and have come across no other matters in connection with the examination to which attention should be
drawn in this report in order to enable a proper understanding of the accounts to be reached.

Colin Young
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
Galloways Accounting
Atlas Chambers
33 West Street
East Sussex

Financial activities

Statement of financial activities

Notes 2020 unrestricted fund 2019 total fund

Income and endowments from

Donations and legacies 2 £21,708 £18,789
Charitable activities 5
     events £197,993 £252,396
     membership benefits and services £480,738 £466,050
Other trading activities 3 £35,921 £54,280
Investment income 4 £1,907 £1,811
Total £738,267 £793,326

Expenditure on

Raising funds
Other trading activities 6 £25,384 £17,770
Charitable activities 7
     events £430,060 £427,461
     membership benefits and sevices £304,207 £296,725
Total £759,651 £741,956

Net income /(expenditure)

£(21,384) £51,370

Reconciliation of funds

£366,459 £315,089
Total funds brought forward £345,075 £366,459

Balance sheet

Notes 2020 unrestricted funds 2019

Fixed assets

Tangible assets 13 £20,112 £14,323

Current assets

Debtors 14 £122,876 £217,631
Cash at bank and in hand £493,425 £476,727
£616,301 £694,358


Amounts falling due within one year 15 (£291,338) (£342,222)

Net current assets

£324,963 £352,136

Total assets less current liabilities

£345,075 £366,459

Net assets

£345,075 £366,459


Unrestricted funds £345,075 £366,459

Total funds

£345,075  £366,459

The charitable company is entitled to exemption from audit under Section 477 of the Companies Act 2006 for the year ended 30 April 2020.

The members have not required the company to obtain an audit of its financial statements for the year ended 30 April 2020 in accordance with Section 476 of the Companies Act 2006.

The trustees acknowledge their responsibilities for:

(a) ensuring that the charitable company keeps accounting records that comply with Sections 386 and 387 of the Companies Act 2006 and
(b) preparing financial statements which give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the charitable company as at the end of each financial year and of its surplus or deficit for each financial year in accordance with the requirements of Sections 394 and 395 and which otherwise comply with the requirements of the Companies Act 2006 relating to financial statements, so far as applicable to the charitable company.

Cash flow statement

Notes 2020 2019 as related
Cash flows from operating activities:
Cash generated from operations 1 £27,284 (£29,860)
Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities £27,284 (£29,860)
Cash flows from investing activities:
Purchase of tangible fixed assets (£12,493) (£3,489)
Interest received £1,907 £1,811
Net cash provided by (used in) investing activities (£10,586) (£1,678)
Change in cash and cash equivalents in the reporting period £16,698 (£31,538)
Cash and cash equivalents at the beginning of the reporting period £476,727 £508,265
Cash and cash equivalents at the end of the reporting period £493,425 £476,727

Notes to the cash flow statement

1. Reconciliation of net income to net cash flow from operating activities

2020 2019 as related
Net income for the reporting period (as per the statement of financial activities) (£21,384) £51,370
Adjustments for:
Depreciation charge £6,704 £4,284
Interest received (£1,907) (£1,811)
Decrease/(increase) in debtors £94,755 (£123,521)
(Decrease)/increase in creditors (£50,884) £39,818
Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities £27,284 (29£,860)

2. Analysis of changes in net funds

at 1 May 2019 Cash flow at 30 April 2020
Net cash £476,727 £16,698 £493,425
Cash at bank and in hand £476,727 £16,698 £493,425
Total £476,727 £16,698 £493,425

Notes to the financial statements

1. Accounting policies


Basis of preparing the financial statements
The financial statements of the charitable company, which is a public benefit entity under FRS 102, have been prepared in accordance with the Charities SORP (FRS 102) ‘Accounting and Reporting by Charities: Statement of Recommended Practice applicable to charities preparing their accounts in accordance with the Financial Reporting Standard applicable in the UK and Republic of Ireland (FRS 102) (effective 1 January 2019)’, Financial Reporting Standard 102 ‘The Financial Reporting Standard applicable in the UK and Republic of Ireland’ and the Companies Act 2006. The financial statements have been prepared under the historical cost convention.


Going concern
At the time of approving the accounts, the trustees have a reasonable expectation that the charity has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future. Thus the trustees continue to adopt the going concern basis of accounting in preparing the accounts.


The trustees have taken steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 measures as much as possible, at the date of approval of these accounts the charity has sufficient resources to continue for the foreseeable future and therefore continues to adopt the going concern basis in preparing its financial statements.


All income is recognised in the Statement of Financial Activities once the charity has entitlement to the funds, it is probable that the income will be received and the amount can be measured reliably. Donated facilities are included at the value to the charity where this can be quantified and a third party is bearing the cost. No amounts are included in the financial statements for services donated by volunteers. Membership income is recognised in the period to which it relates. Event income is recognised when the conference takes place.


Liabilities are recognised as expenditure as soon as there is a legal or constructive obligation committing the charity to that expenditure, it is probable that a transfer of economic benefits will be required in settlement and the amount of the obligation can be measured reliably. Expenditure is accounted for on an accruals basis and has been classified under headings that aggregate all cost related to the category. Where costs cannot be directly attributed to particular headings they have been allocated to activities on a basis consistent with the use of resources. Fund-raising costs are those incurred in seeking voluntary contributions and do not include the costs of disseminating information in support of the charitable activities.


Governance costs
Included in governance costs are the costs associated with the governance arrangements of the charity. Costs include independent examination, legal advice for trustees and costs associated with constitutional and statutory requirements.


Allocation and apportionment of costs
Support and governance costs are recharged to charitable activities based on estimated usage, dependent on the type of expenditure.


Tangible fixed assets
Depreciation is provided at the following annual rates in order to write off each asset over its estimated useful life.
Computer equipment – 25% on reducing balance
Website – 25% on reducing balance


The charity is exempt from corporation tax on its charitable activities.


Fund accounting
Unrestricted funds can be used in accordance with the charitable objectives at the discretion of the trustees. Restricted funds can only be used for particular restricted purposes within the objects of the charity. Restrictions arise when specified by the donor or when funds are raised for particular restricted purposes. Further explanation of the nature and purpose of each fund is included in the notes to the financial statements.


Pension costs and other post-retirement benefits
The charitable company operates a defined contribution pension scheme. Contributions payable to the charitable company’s pension scheme are charged to the Statement of Financial Activities in the period to which they relate.


Termination benefits
Termination benefits are recognised immediately as an expense when the charity is demonstrably committed to terminate the employment of an employee or to provide termination benefits.


Debtors and creditors receivable/ payable within one year
Debtors and creditors with no stated interest rate and receivable or payable within one year are recorded at transaction price. Any losses arising from impairment are recognised in expenditure.


2. Donations and legacies


2020 2019
Donations £21,708 £18,789


Donatiions relate to benefits in kind provided within the year by upRise toward the Digital Benchmark project/service.


3. Other trading activities


2020 2019
Sponsorships £35,921 £54,280


4. Investment income


2020 2019 as restated
Deposit account interest £1,907 £1,811


5. Income from charitable activities


2020  2019
Events £197,993 £252,396
Membership benefits
and services
£480,738 £466,050
Total £678,731 £718,446


6. Other trading activities


2020 2019 as restated
Purchases £25,384 £17,770


7. Charitable activities costs


Direct costs Support costs
(See note 8)  
Events £373,462 £56,598 £430,060
Membership benefits
and services
£235,032 £69,175 £304,207
Total £608,494 £125,773 £734,267


8. Support costs


Management Finance Information
Other Governance Totals
Events £12,504 £2,395 £8,723 £27,411 £5,564 £56,598
Membership benefits
& services
£15,283 £2,928 £10,661 £33,503 £6,801 £69,175
Total £27,787 £5,323 £19,384 £60,914 £12,365 £125,773


9. Net income/(expenditure)


Net income/(expenditure) is stated after charging/(crediting):


2020  2019
Depreciation – owned assets £6,704 £4,284


10. Independent examiner’s remuneration


2020 2019
Independent examiner’s remuneration £4,284 £4,284


11. Trustees’ remuneration and benefits


There were no trustees’ remuneration or other benefits for the year ended 30 April 2020 nor for the year ended 30 April 2019.


2020 2019
Trustees’ expenses £837 £522


12. Staff costs


2020 2019 as restated
Wages and salaries £396,735 £368,229
Social security costs £39,149 £33,998
Other pension costs £18,589 £10,854
Total £454,473 £413,081


The average monthly number of employees during the year was as follows:


2020 2019
Staff 12 11


The number of employees whose employee benefits (excluding employer pension costs) exceeded £60,000 was:


2020 2019
£60,001 – £70,000 1 1


Total redundancy / termination payments amount to £nil (2019: £3,327) and are related to a statutory redundancy payment to staff.


13. Tangilble fixed assets


Computer equipment Website   Totals


at 1 May 2019 £9,513  £52,339 £61,852
Additions £4,879   £7,614 £12,493
at 30 April 2020 £14,392  £59,953  £74,345


at 1 May 2019 £4,951 £42,578 £47,529
Charge for year £2,360 £4,344 £6,704
at 30 April 2020 £7,311 £46,922 £54,233

Net book value

At 30 April 2020 £7,081  £13,031 £20,112
At 30 April 2019 £4,562  £9,761  £14,323


14. Debtors: amounts falling due within one year


2020 2019 
Trade debtors £100,949  £194,962
Prepayments and accrued income £21,927  £22,669
£122,876  £217,631


15. Creditors: acounts falling due within one year


2020 2019 as restated
Trade creditors 19,034  19,625
Social security and other taxes 9,154  7,417
VAT 12,103  25,126
Other creditors 3,181  2,945
Accrued expenses 2,600  2,250
Deferred income 245,266  284,859
Total 291,338  342,222



Deferred income refers to advance payments received by the charity for products or services that are to be delivered or performed in the future. Membership income is invoiced annually and recognised in the period to which it relates. Deferred income in relation to membership fees total £225,722 (2019: £254,289). Also included in deferred income are amounts of £19,544 (2019:£26,570) which relate to events that had not taken place before the year-end.


16. Movement in funds


at 1.5.19 Net movement in fundx at 30.4.20
Unrestricted funds
General fund £366,459  (£21,384) £345,075
Total funds £366,459  (£21,384) £345,075


Net movement in funds, included in the above are as follows:


Incoming resources Resources expended Movement in funds
Unrestricted funds
General fund £738,267  (£759,651) (£21,384)
Total funds £738,267  (£759,651) (£21,384)


Comparatives for movement in funds


at 1.5.18 Net movement in funds at 30.4.19
Unrestricted funds
General fund £315,089  £51,370  £366,459
Total funds £315,089  £51,370  £366,459


Comparative net movement in funds, included in the above are as follows:


Incoming resources Resources expended Movement in funds
Unrestricted funds
General fund £793,326  (£741,956)  £51,370
Total funds £793,326  (£741,956)  £51,370



17. Related party disclosures


There were no related party transactions for the year ended 30 April 2020.



Detailed statement of financial activities

Income and endowments

2020  2019
Donations and legacies
Donations £21,708  £18,789
Other trading activities
Sponsorships £35,921  £54,280
Investment income
Deposit account interest £1,907  £1,811
Charitable activities
Events £197,993  £252,396
Membership benefits & services £480,738 £466,050
£678,731  £718,446
Total incoming resources £738,267 £793,326


2020  2019
Other trading activities
Direct costs £25,384  £17,770
Charitable activities
Wages £396,735  £368,229
Social security £39,149  £33,998
Pensions £18,589  £10,854
Conference costs £151,985  £160,385
Membership costs £2,036  £7,913
Support costs
Insurance £3,129 £233
Postage and stationery £2,434  £1,059
Advertising £14,886  £6,010
Consultancy fees £1,200 £3,830
Accountancy £6,138 £26,330
£27,787  £37,462
Bank charges £5,323 £4,743
Information technology
Website maintenance £4,988 £4,463
Computer support £14,396 £19,202
£19,384  £23,665
Information technology (other)
Telephone £521 £477
Computer software £1,322 £1,105
Staff expenses (including recruitment costs) £15,945 £28,207
Rent £36,000 £29,000
Memberships & subscriptions £422 £737
Computer equipment depreciation £2,360 £1,030
Website depreciation £4,344 £3,254
£60,914  £63,810
Governance Costs
Trustees’ expenses £837  £522
Independent examiner’s remuneration £2,780  £2,250
Legal fees £48  £35
Governance consultancy £8,700  £10,320
£12,365  £13,127
Total resources expended £759,651  £741,956
Net (expenditure)/income (21,384) £51,370

Thank you!

We’d like to say thank you to our trustees Hanif and Clive who stepped down at our AGM in November 2019.

Hanif Leylabi

Hanif Leylabi

Clive Gardiner

Clive Gardiner