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The new rules of audience engagement

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£75 + VAT pp for CharityComms charity members
£100 + VAT pp for CharityComms corporate partners
£145 + VAT pp for non-members of all types

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A year has passed since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK. To say it changed our lives beyond recognition, is an understatement. During this time, we’ve seen such extraordinary agility, tenacity, creativity and flexibility in the charity sector.

As the Government’s roadmap to ease lockdown unfolds, here we are again, thinking, planning, discussing – what direction will we take next? Will we push the boundaries, taking the best of what we’ve learnt? Or will it be “business as usual”?

It seems fitting that a year on, we should take stock and evaluate what we’ve learnt about working in communications during the pandemic and ask ourselves – have the rules of engagement changed? Indeed, have our audiences changed? How can we best reach them today where they are at?  

At this special conference, we’ll explore all things engagement in the new reality – with the latest audience behavioural insights, exploration of the comms lessons learnt, and some practical workshops on the building blocks of engagement – you’ll leave with tonnes of practical ideas and inspiration for your engagement strategies.

On the agenda

  • Audience insight trends – how people are consuming content and engaging with charities
  • Making the case for strategic communications and audience insight projects
  • Comms lessons from the pandemic – what we’ll take forward and what we’ll leave behind
  • Practical “how to” workshop on the building blocks of engagement
  • What’s an insight and how do you unearth them?
  • Keeping everyone on board – the importance of integrating internal and external comms
  • Rethinking approaches to external engagement

Your ticket gives you access to both days of great content.

Can’t join us for both days of live broadcasts? We’ve got you covered as we’ll be recording all live broadcasts and making these available to all delegates after the conference. 

Day 1

Adeela Warley 
CEO, CharityComms

Housekeeping and icebreaker

Vanessa Weddell 
head of events, CharityComms

Live talk with Q&A: Audience trends - how has engagement with charities changed during the pandemic, and where can we expect these trends to go?

Covid-19 has undoubtedly changed how we think, feel, and do. Changes that usually take decades have happened in months. So how have attitudes towards charities and charitable causes shifted in this time? Have there been any dramatic shifts in how we give, who we give to and why we give? In this talk, Tim and Secil will offer insights and explore the trends affecting charities to help you meet your audiences where they are at and going next.

Tim Harrison-Byrne 
co-managing director, nfpSynergy

Secil Muderrisoglu
head of brand research, nfpSynergy

Peer exchange: Making the case for strategic communications

During the pandemic comms teams were reporting huge demand for their services, as they became the glue holding the remote workforce together and the primary way of reaching audiences with guidance and information. But, with pressure on services, workforce, and income, we are hearing of colleagues having to reassert the case for communications.

In this session, you can talk to peers and get ideas for making the case for comms – whether you’re seeking more resources or internal buy-in for a new audience project, approach or strategy.                                           

Tea break and natter - grab yourself a cuppa
Panel discussion and live Q&A: Lessons from lockdown - collecting the jewels from the ashes

The pandemic has forced us into new ways of working and communicating with our internal and external audiences. In this lively discussion, we’ll hear from comms practitioners about the things they’ve learnt, what has surprised them, what they’ll take forward or leave behind as we enter a new phase of reality.

Julie Dodd 
director of transformation, Parkinson's UK

Athar Abidi
head of social and digital activation, British Heart Foundation

Charlotte Jackson 
associate director of engagement and communications , Parkinson’s UK

Julian Newby
sector head of media - UK, Europe, ROW, YouGov

Joe Freeman 
social and digital media lead, NHS.UK / NHS Digital

Tea break and natter - grab yourself a cuppa and network with peers
Live talk and Q&A: Taking the temperature of the sector

In this live and interactive session, you’ll get a snapshot of where your organisation is (compared to others at the conference) on a number of key communications issues. From budgets to structures and from engagement strategy to tactics. Following the session, you’ll get a visual summary of the findings helping you to benchmark and take information back to your charities. 

Chris Dessent 
managing director, Creative Concern

Faith Bulleyment
business director, Creative Concern

Raising the profile of cancer: reaching target audiences to raise funds during a pandemic

Like for so many, 2020 was the toughest in Macmillan Cancer Support’s 110-year history. Due to the pandemic, its income, coming almost entirely from donations, suddenly faced a staggering drop, and people with cancer, whose treatment was being postponed or cancelled, needed support more than ever. This talk will set out how the charity has used insight to cut through a relentless media landscape and target key audiences to ensure cancer did not become the ‘Forgotten C’, and to help raise vital funds at a critical time.

Laura Walter 
senior media and PR manager, Macmillan Cancer Support

Close and launch of pre-recorded presentations for you to watch at your leisure:
The Ramblers: adapting HQ campaigns for Welsh audiences

For charities with a central HQ and many regional offices, it can be tricky to make campaigns work for all audiences. In his talk, Brân will look at the challenges he faces in adapting national campaigns for Welsh audiences, from making sure materials are bilingual to working with colleagues in a central office who may not be familiar with the ways in which devolution impacts governance and policy structures. Brân will also offer his top tips for working more effectively with colleagues during the campaign planning process.

Brân Devey 
engagement and communications manager , The Ramblers (Wales/Cymru)

Reaching diverse communities online

When your equality, diversity and inclusion strategy is committed to giving all young people a chance to succeed, how do you ensure you’re connecting with specific community groups in a meaningful way? The Prince’s Trust has launched an online event series to equip young people with job skills and share advice for finding diverse employers, packed with real stories to inspire young people to be their authentic selves. Find out how they got it started and gain top tips for targeting specific groups online.

Donna White 
senior head of digital marketing, The Prince's Trust

What’s an insight and how to unearth them?

Strong brands are based on insights to make sure they are authentic and differentiated. Human insights to connect with our audiences. Organisational insights to ensure brands complement the corporate strategy, skills and aspirations. And sector insights to ensure the brand fits cultural trends and is differentiated.

In this talk, which was originally given at our Brand Breakfast forum, Dan will guide us through some of the tools available to identify insights from primary and desk research to market and trends analysis, qualitative and quantitative research, public omnibus, surveys, online panels and good old focus groups. The mind boggles. This presentation was originally recorded at the recent Brand Breakfast event on audience insight on a budget. 

Dan Dufour 
brand strategist, Red Stone

People first - the five pillars of external engagement

In this talk, Joe Barrell, author of Who Cares? offers a constructive challenge to the sector to raise its game and rethink approaches to external engagement. Joe walks us through some of the key components of the model laid out in the Who Cares? book. This talk was originally recorded at the Who Cares? book launch earlier this year. 

Joe Barrell 
executive director, Eden Stanley

Day 2

Adeela Warley 
CEO, CharityComms

Housekeeping and icebreaker

Vanessa Weddell 
head of events, CharityComms

Skills boost workshop: building your engagement strategy

Why does your organisation need supporters? How well do you know them? Do your communications and activities meet their needs, as well as your organisational goals? In this practical two-hour workshop, more onion’s strategists Claire Donner and Rebecca Turner will take you through the key elements of a successful engagement strategy, ways to gather and apply audience insight, and find the sweet spot where your supporters’ interests and motivations align with your objectives. Come prepared to apply, challenge and develop your own knowledge and approaches through a mix of expert input, group work and individual exercises.


Claire Donner 
senior strategy consultant, more onion

Rebecca Turner
senior strategy consultant, more onion

Tea break and natter - grab yourself a cuppa
Looking to the tourism industry – what can charities learn about engagement in 2021?

Tourism is the UK’s fifth biggest industry and third largest employer. Last year it was the first sector to be hit by the consequences of the COVID pandemic, it was hit hardest and will take the longest to recover. Throughout the pandemic we have seen organisations pivot strategies to engage and interact with audiences in extraordinary and innovative ways. Without face-to-face experiences, social media and digital marketing surged to the fore with virtual visits, online lectures and digital tours becoming the norm. In his talk, Bernard will share lessons from the sector and explore how the industry will recover by listening to what customers want.

Bernard Donoghue 
director, Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA)

Changing hearts and minds: what can we learn from the last 12 months?

The last year has been rich with insight, inspiration and intense frustration for us communicators. But what has it shown us about how communications can drive change? Nicky looks back on a year of comms belters and backfires, reflecting on what it all means and what we can learn.

Nicky Hawkins 
director of communications, On Road Media

Close and launch of pre-recorded presentations for you to watch at your leisure:
Shifting the dial: tackling stigma around mental health - lessons from 15 years at Time to Change

On 31 March 2021, Time to Change, England’s mental health anti-stigma and behaviour change campaign, closed. In this talk, we will hear about its impressive impact and the lessons learnt over 15 years of influencing hearts and minds in order to tackle discrimination at individual, organisational and community levels. Jo will share her thoughts on how Time to Change successfully reached its audiences over the course of its lifespan and how the work can, and MUST, be continued.

Jo Loughran 
director, Time to Change

Engaging Mencap’s existing and new remote workforce through the pandemic

Mencap has always faced the challenge of communicating with a large part of it’s workforce who are remote and community-based. In this presentation, Liz will talk about how the pandemic has amplified this challenge, with all teams suddenly working remotely and a front line social care workforce who need to be kept up-to-date with an ever-changing landscape of Government guidance. Discover the tactics that she and her team employed to maximise their current channels and adapt and evolve new ones. This talk was originally filmed at a CharityComms Internal Comms Special Interest Group meeting on building engagement remotely.

Liz Clyro 
head of internal communication, Mencap

Fighting for hope – how The Children’s Society worked with young people to find a brand fit for the future of a generation

In a purpose-driven world, an authentic, distinctive and unique brand purpose has become a critical foundation for success. The Children’s Society relaunched it’s brand in October built around hope – a clear and highly relevant purpose for the extraordinary times we are living in. Join Chris to find out how The Children’s Society rediscovered it’s brand purpose and personality, co-created with young people. This talk was originally filmed at our recent CharityComms Brand Breakfast event on audience insight.

Christine Phillips
director of marketing and communications, The Children's Society

Keeping people at the heart of FoodCycle

FoodCycle need to reach a wide and varied audience including corporate partners, donors, guests and volunteers. Carly will share how they put people at the heart of all their communications, have adapted their approach during the pandemic and how she will support the return to community meals in 2021; she will discuss challenges, creative solutions and her plans for FoodCycle’s future. This talk was originally recorded at the CharityComms PR Network event earlier this year on practical tips on storytelling.

Carly Shutes
head of marketing, FoodCycle

Headline Sponsors

Creative Concern is a full service communications agency that believes that creative, compelling and compassionate communications can make the world a better place. For us, great ideas and good values go hand in hand; we care about what we do and we care about what you do. 
Since we started out in 2002, Creative Concern has been dedicated to working with charities from across the UK, tackling a whole range of different creative communications challenges. From small, locally-focused charities providing much-needed services to some of the biggest household charity brands, we have helped to create and strengthen charity brands, devise effective campaigns, engage colleagues and reach out to donors and supporters. 


more onion logo

More onion is a digital mobilisation agency. We work exclusively with progressive non-profits to deliver high-impact digital communications, campaigns and fundraising through both our expert consultancy and our powerful mobilisation platform, Impact Stack. Our international team are committed activists and fundraisers who bring a passion for social change along with deep strategic, creative and technical expertise. We never lose sight of the real goal of your project – building support for real world change. We won’t just follow a brief to deliver what you’ve asked for; whether it’s engagement actions, supporter journeys or lead generation, we’ll work collaboratively with you to fully understand and deliver what you need.