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Our survey with Media Trust reveals the challenges you are facing

7 April 2020

It’s an existential crisis – I’ve heard this phrase a lot over the last few weeks applied to the very real threat the Coronavirus has made to the survival of the voluntary sector. But it’s only now I’ve given myself the time to ask what does this phrase really mean? Google tells me an existential crisis is the moment we question whether our lives have meaning, purpose or value – when we might ask what is the point of my work? what if we didn’t exist?

The sudden absence of our work has already affected many of the people we support – whether it’s shelter to get off the street, a foodbank to feed a family, a carer who visits each day, our ability to operate has already been sorely tested and impacted on people’s lives.

For charity communicators – the question why does my charity exist? is far from theoretical. We’re the ones who insist on an answer and lead on crafting the compelling story of our organisation’s work which grabs attention and drives understanding, loyalty and engagement. But this job is even harder right now.

We’ve been hearing how life has changed for you, one internal comms manager said, “ I feel like I haven’t stopped for weeks.” From supporting CEOs to lead from the front to crafting difficult messages about furloughing staff or the loss of face to face services – it’s been an incredibly busy and demanding time.

We know that you are being flexible and innovative, overcoming barriers and seizing opportunities but that you need practical support, knowledge and inspiration. That’s why the Media Trust and CharityComms partnered up to survey the sector about the main challenges you and the wider charity community are facing so we can help tailor and deliver the support and resources you most need in the weeks and months ahead.

What did you tell us?

Well, strikingly 20% of respondents felt they didn’t know what resources are available, so we see this as an opportunity to promote existing resources, make them easier to find and find new ways to address the challenges you identified.

View the results PDF

Meanwhile the top three comms challenges charities identified they are facing are supporting beneficiaries who would normally have access to face to face services, producing digital content (such as films, vlogs, infographics) and moving services online.

We will work hard to bring you advice and resources on all these topics and connect you with expert advice from our freelance and agency partners and mentors.

Working in partnership is very much part of CharityComms DNA, unlocking the incredible knowledge and generosity in our sector through peer to peer learning. So we’ll also be showcasing and connecting you with charities already making these shifts, so that you can learn and apply knowledge at speed.

From the British Tinnitus Society piloting their first online support group, to Age UK using social media to reach older audiences, to the One Cancer Voice Group where 19 cancer charities are working together – adopting a collaborative, agile and test and learn approach is key.

As we come to terms with our new reality and strive to identify our comms priorities, let’s be hopeful, pragmatic and ambitious. CharityComms is working tirelessly to support and champion you because we know that outstanding communications sit at the heart of all great charities and that the world is a better place because you exist.

The Survey results and our Coronavirus resource page.

Photo: Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels

Adeela Warley

CEO, CharityComms

Adeela has over 20 years’ experience in charity communications across multiple skills and functions: strategic planning, market research, media, PR, events, brand, publishing and digital. Before joining CharityComms, she led the development of organisational communications, brand and audience strategies for Friends of the Earth, putting them at the heart of the charity's campaigning success and supporter engagement.