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Four communications lessons from collaborative campaigns

9 July 2021

Pooling your resources with other organisations to raise money or awareness can help you reach and inspire new audiences.

It can also be a great way to achieve a successful charity communications campaign on a tight budget. And, of course, right now, budgets are tighter than ever because of the pandemic. (In 2020, according to researchers Pro Bono Economics, charities faced a £10.1 billion funding gap.)

Many charities have come together to work with other organisations on specific campaigns with a clear call to action. They are working with others to do more with less, cut costs, speak louder and communicate a united front to supporters.

So, what are the main lessons charity communicators can learn from recent prominent collaborative campaigns?

  1. Lesson: Unite behind a compelling personal story
    Campaign: NHS Charities Together

Captain Sir Tom Moore was the face of NHS Charities Together fundraising. His challenge – to walk 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday – captivated the public and helped raise nearly £33 million for NHS Charities Together. The membership organisation and the NHS charities it represents united to support Captain Tom. His story became a focal point for their fundraising during the pandemic, helping the public to connect with these charities.

Keep an eye on the fundraising your supporters are doing – on social media and by inviting them to update you. Help to tell their personal story in your communications and to the media so you can reach more donors. If you’re a membership or umbrella organisation, encourage your members and partners to also publicise compelling personal fundraising stories.

2. Lesson: Come up with a creative campaign hashtag
Campaign: #NeverMoreNeeded

Good collaborative campaigns make the most of each organisation’s social media reach and creative hashtags extend that impact. #NeverMoreNeeded brings together organisations that support the charity sector, from CharityComms to Charities Aid Foundation and Children England to Volunteering Matters. The campaign call is for more UK government funding and support for charities following the pandemic because “they save, protect, support and enhance lives” – and now they are #NeverMoreNeeded.

The hashtag is simple shorthand for a more complex cause. That means influencers and collaborators can easily include it in their social media posts and audiences can get to grips with the key point of the campaign. It’s a rallying call for charities across the sector – both large and small – and the wider public. They are using the hashtag to champion the causes they care about and want to survive the pandemic.

3. Lesson:  Convey clear “why now?” messaging
Campaign: 20 for 20

“Cancer doesn’t stop for Covid.” That was the clear message of the 20 for 20 campaign. For this, 20 lesser-known cancer charities came together to ask people to fundraise over 20 days in autumn 2020. This included Brain Tumour Research, The Boom Foundation and ALK Positive UK.

Supporters need to understand why organisations involved in a collaborative campaign are working together – and why now. Organisations involved in 20 for 20 presented themselves as a “collective”, addressing this point directly. They admitted that it was “a first” that they had come together and explained the reason – that more cancers are going undiagnosed and untreated in the pandemic.

4. Lesson: Consider working with partners outside the charity sector to extend your reach
Campaign: Covid Community Campaign

Collaborative campaigns aren’t just about charities joining forces with other charities. Working with other organisations, with similar objectives, can help you reach different audiences. For the Covid Community Campaign, food poverty charities The Trussell Trust, FareShare, Magic Breakfast and Social Bite linked up with London councils and the Mayor of London to raise money for their causes. That meant coverage for the campaign on all the partner websites and social media channels during the critical Christmas fundraising period. It also provided a rich and diverse source of content, from case studies to spokespeople, for campaign assets.

Collaborative relationships

Research is key if you have an idea for a collaborative campaign and are looking for other organisations to work with on it. Find out if the objectives of the organisations you’d like to partner with align with those of your own charity. You could do some desk research or contact someone in their communications team to organise a meeting.

If starting a collaborative campaign feels daunting, think about getting involved with one that is already up and running. If there’s not an established way of joining the collaboration, you could try contacting the communications manager of one of the main players to discuss getting involved.

Ultimately, collaborative campaigns are built on good working relationships. This is outlined by those behind the #NeverMoreNeeded campaign in their top tips on working in partnership. Get the relationships right and successful collaborations could help your charity do more when you work with others.

Read more

Beyond numbers: the long-term impact of coronavirus on charities and why collaboration is so important

Your collaboration is missing something vital – trust me


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Image: Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Trina Wallace

copywriter and editor, freelance

Trina Wallace is a copywriter, editor and communications consultant with around 14 years’ experience in the charity sector. She has worked with over 70 charities, including Cancer Research UK, Rethink Mental Illness, Alzheimer’s Society and Oxfam. Trina specialises in writing audience-focused communications that inspire people to take action.