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Vicky Browning

Author profile

Vicky became CEO of ACEVO, the charity and social leaders’ network, in January 2017, helping to empower our inspiring sector leaders to make the biggest difference they can to their beneficiaries, their organisation and to society. Vicky was previously CharityComms’ director for nearly seven years.

Leading the way for innovation
28 March 2019
It’s no secret that to remain both relevant and sustainable, organisations must be willing to try new things. But in a world that’s most often focused on short-term results and obvious returns on investment, it’s hard to create a culture open to new ideas, willing to accept the associated risk that innovation brings...
9 February 2017
As individual charities, we each understand the need to explain to the wider world the value, importance and impact of our work. Much of our external communication is bound up in that. But we’ve done very little as a sector to communicate the cumulative effect of our collective effort. We haven’t done enough together to […]
18 January 2017
“If, once I’ve started, I don’t see the point of CharityComms, would you object to me shutting it down?” When a panel gets to the point in a job interview where they ask if you have any questions for them, they’re probably not expecting something quite that blunt. But when I applied for the role […]
15 September 2016
Here in our CharityComms basement we’re always looking out for ways to help charity communicators avoid reinventing wheels. Why waste time and resources starting something from scratch when you could tap into someone else’s knowledge or collateral? Our latest idea, brought to us by Kim Hill from Hope Street Media, is to develop a document sharing hub. […]
13 September 2016
While many charity board duties relate closely to core comms responsibilities, most trustees appear to have little understanding of the role and remit of communications. Trustees are not generally interested in communications for its own sake. But tell them how it raises brand awareness or mitigates risk and they will sit up and listen. Remind them […]
21 June 2016
Over the past year, I’ve worked with a number of people from different charities and organisations to develop a positive narrative for the charity sector in response to concerns about a decrease in public trust and understanding of how modern charities work. In April, we took our narrative to a series of focus groups of […]
14 June 2016
It’s Small Charities Week, when the work, achievements and impact of small charities across the UK are celebrated. It seems a good moment to share the thinking we’ve been doing at CharityComms about how we support the small charities among our membership and beyond.  Last year, we conducted a survey of small charity communicators which […]
7 June 2016
Nearly two in five charity communicators feel the recent challenging media environment for the sector has meant an increased value placed on comms. Asked what impact the intense media scrutiny of charities over the past year has had on others’ perception of the value of the communications/marketing role, 39% said it has increased slightly, according to […]
12 January 2016
My friend Rona is mildly obsessed with my sex life. Although she knows I’m happily married, she spends lots of time dreaming up exciting extramarital affairs for me, with colleagues, strangers – even the poor postman. Rona is 87 and housebound, so her absurd romantic fantasies give us both a good laugh when I see […]
8 October 2015
Public disquiet about the behaviour, size and admin costs/salaries of some charities has focused attention on charities as institutions and how they work, rather than their role in society and the benefit they provide. There's a risk of growing detachment of people from the idea of charity (the needs and causes) because of disenchantment with charities (the institutions). […]
29 September 2015
Measuring and communicating your impact is a challenge for all charities. As a small, second tier charity (delivering services to other charities rather than directly to the public), the challenge felt slightly daunting to us at CharityComms. Like many other organisations, it’s easy for us to demonstrate what we do – all our events, content, […]
15 July 2015
Communications is becoming more valued in the charity sector according to the latest salary survey from CharityComms and TPP Recruitment. The Charity Marketing & Communications Salary Survey 2015 shows that over half (54%) of respondents feel communications has become more valued over the past year, a 4% increase on last year’s figure. The statistic suggests […]
8 July 2015
Charities have a fantastic relationship with the public. But – as the recent slew of high profile media stories show – we can’t take this for granted. Issues such as fundraising methods, levels of executive pay, the rights of charities to campaign and concern about administration costs affect the way charities are perceived by the […]
13 May 2015
A badly handled crisis is one of the greatest risks to any organisation’s reputation. Yet while crises can’t always be avoided, they can be managed – for better or for worse. That’s where well-prepared communications professionals are worth their weight in gold. A good crisis plan, thoughtfully prepared and skilfully executed, can stop a crisis […]
25 February 2015
Following a closely fought contest, our members have elected Lara Burns, head of digital at Age UK and Adeela Warley, head of communications and experience at Friends of the Earth as trustees from our organisational membership, and Katherine Hall, communications manager at the Centre for Mental Health as a trustee from our individual membership. You […]
18 February 2015
Developing audience-focused communications that deliver a range of aims at the same time will result in stronger impact and greater outcomes for your organisation. One voice, CharityComms’ Best Practice Guide to integrated communications, produced in partnership with GOOD Agency, is a practical guide to getting buy-in for integrated comms and how to roll out the […]
20 October 2014
There’s a strong feeling within a lot of charities that the sector needs a positive narrative to improve the public’s understanding of what we do. We’ve now set up the Understanding Charities Group, a cross-sector consortium which aims: To improve the understanding of the public, donors and other stakeholders of how charities work To improve […]
10 September 2014
Public trust in charities remains high, but there is no room for complacency in an atmosphere of negatively charged media and political attitudes towards charities. Issues such as the rights of charities to campaign, levels of CEO pay, fundraising methods and administration costs have all caused ructions in the press and Parliament that could be […]
8 September 2014
Nominations open on 5 September for the CharityComms Inspiring Communicator Awards 2016: that will be your chance to get recognition for those communications colleagues, peers and heroes who you believe have a special spark. Here are 10 reasons why you should get nominating (with thanks to some of our 2013 winners): 1. Because they’re worth it When we […]
5 August 2014
Media monitoring is an important activity for charities, but they have to pay to share copies of newspaper coverage with colleagues. The fees are collected by the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA), which is owned by the UK’s eight major newspaper groups. Each year the NLA raises over £26 million in copyright fees, of which about […]
15 July 2014
One of my key aims when in a meeting is to come out of it with my name against as few of the Action Points as possible. No such joy with this year's CharityComms Away Day, where the team decided that I should write a regular blog on what we've been up to and what's […]
19 June 2014
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. If you could however, you’d be quids-in in the charity sector: marcomms directors of animal and education charities are the highest paid in the field. That’s just one of the fascinating insights revealed by this year’s Charity marketing and communications salary survey  produced jointly by […]
2 May 2014
A panellist for our upcoming Reputation conference raised the fact with us yesterday that our opening panel for the day was made up exclusively of white males. This was not a deliberate or premeditated decision. As I am chairing both the panel and the full day's event, I guess I felt there was at least […]
13 November 2013
Our print magazine budget is being challenged. That’s what CharityComms members told us earlier this year. The prevailing financial climate has put every aspect of charity activity under the value-for-money microscope. And despite magazines and newsletters being a traditional mainstay of charities’ communication with their key audiences, they’ve not escaped the eagle eye of financial […]
28 May 2013
Connecting a celebrity to your cause can harness their pulling power of media and public interest and tap into a deep well of talent and influential networks. But the process isn’t without potential pitfalls. Our Best Practice Guide Harnessing the talent: working with celebrities looks at the pros and cons of getting a famous face […]
17 April 2013
There are many bonuses to working for a charity, but they’re not the sort they talk about in the City. The satisfaction of working for a cause you believe in, alongside people who care as much as you do about making a difference in the world, counts for a lot. Because let’s face it: you […]
25 March 2013
When England gaily waved its troops off to fight the First World War in July 1914, everyone confidently predicted it would be over by Christmas and everything would soon be back to normal. That’s broadly how charity chief execs are viewing the investment in digital strategy and resource, according to the heads of digital at […]
8 March 2013
The Newspaper Licensing Agency has announced an extension of the discounts it offers charities on their media licensing fees. The NLA said on 5 March that it's extending its discount scheme to cover content from newspaper websites and the republishing of newspaper content for publicity purposes on charity websites. This means that the maximum discount […]
15 February 2013
Why are there so many charities which all seem to do the same thing? And why don’t more of them work together? These are common, and not unreasonable, questions from the public. There are over 600 cancer charities in the UK for example, and more than 500 charities serving the armed forces. You can forgive […]
7 February 2013
Deciding which metrics to capture around digital and social media comms is one thing. Knowing whether your results are any good is quite another. Over time it’s possible to measure growth in your own charity’s digital effectiveness. But the moment when you say: “Ta da: we’ve achieved this!” is all too often followed by the […]
22 January 2013
Friends of mine recently borrowed my car to drive to a party. The husband vaguely knew where he was going but, in typical fashion (according to his wife), failed to check the actual route before setting off. He got hopelessly lost and ended up turning into a narrow side road and scraping the side of […]
23 November 2012
Branding is a huge subject: when putting together CharityComms’ Branding Inside Out Best Practice Guide the hardest task was keeping it to a manageable length...
8 November 2012
CharityComms is looking to appoint two elected trustees from organisational member charities to its board. We’re looking for senior comms professionals with experience of the charity sector to join our board to make an active contribution to the development of our growing organisation. We’re after enthusiastic, inspiring communicators who can help ensure CharityComms continues to […]
18 October 2012
The British Heart Foundation has been voted the sector’s favourite charity brand by charity communications professionals and their supporters. In our poll run to celebrate the launch of Branding Inside Out, our best practice guide to charity branding, the heart disease prevention charity came out on top after a nail-biting tussle between some of the […]
12 October 2012
John Grounds is a busy man. Having just joined the RSPCA as its new director of marketing and campaigns, John has this week been appointed chair elect of CharityComms. He's now poised to accept the trustee board helm of the organisation he helped set up five years ago. It’s a lot to take on in […]
19 September 2012
Show and tell: a Best Practice Guide to portraying beneficiaries and service users was the first of what is now a series of best practice guidelines from CharityComms. Download it for free here. Our guides pull together experience and practices from across the charity communications sector and produce inspirational materials that help communicators build their skills and […]
18 August 2012
Seamus O'Farrell wants to get inside your head. More specifically, he wants to tap into the 95% of your subconscious that, psychological marketing theory states, shapes and structures all your conscious thought. Seamus is the director of comms at the recently rebranded Prostate Cancer UK, formerly The Prostate Cancer Charity. According to the theory he […]
10 July 2012
It’s not hard to get digital communications folk to agree that social media is a great way to engage supporters. What’s difficult is getting fundraisers to see the value of that engagement in terms of hard cash in the face of tough targets. A recent CharityComms networking event, organised in partnership with digital agency Cogapp, […]
20 June 2012
They say cobblers' children have the worst shoes. Dishing out daily examples of great charity communications is inspirational for the CharityComms team, but over the past six months we’ve become increasingly aware that our own visual identity and digital offering were falling woefully short of the example we were being set by others. CharityComms’ brand […]
30 March 2012
“The current lack of understanding of digital is a risk to the sector.” That was the blunt statement that made a room full of senior digital comms professionals catch its collective breath for a moment before the silence was broken by murmurs of agreement. Around 40 digital comms managers from some of the UK’s largest […]
14 March 2012
Historic Tunbridge Wells seems an unlikely sanctuary for a nest of monsters. Yet the scenic spa town is the home of the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA), an organisation whose very mention brings out pitchfork-waving, torch-bearing tendencies in many charity communicators. CharityComms’ recent report on the sector’s experience of the agency found NLA staff described as […]
17 January 2012
Current media licensing laws are unfair to charities, says Vicky Browning  I’ve written a blog for The Guardian today. They didn’t pay me to write it. But if I want to send a copy to my trustees at CharityComms from The Guardian, I will be charged a copyright licence fee. However if you, as a […]
14 November 2011
The National Trust hit the headlines with their planning reforms campaign. CharityComms director Vicky Browning reports on how they did it "Risible", "nihilistic" and "jihadist". Not the sort of language one would expect government ministers to use about the National Trust. And yet this is the invective that’s been generated by the Trust’s ongoing Planning […]
10 November 2011
Ask a comms director what causes friction between comms and policy at many charities and you’ll hear: “Policy wonks who fancy themselves as comms people and spend their time complaining about comms instead of researching and writing some [expletive deleted] policy”. Ask a policy wonk, however and you’ll be told: “The simplistic approach of so-called […]
10 November 2011
Combined communications activity achieved great coverage for a campaign calling for compulsory micro-chipping of guide dogs. CharityComms director Vicky Browning reports on how Guide Dogs organised the campaign  Guide dogs being attacked in the street by other dogs is a serious and growing problem. These attacks have a devastating effect on the person and guide […]
10 June 2011
Picture the scene. You are a well-known, successful charity. You have two teams – one focused on communications and the other fundraising. Both are working to an overarching goal to improve life for your organisation’s beneficiaries. Each team has an appreciation and understanding of the other’s strengths and skills. They both understand that they can […]
21 February 2011
CharityComms director Vicky Browning thinks the Government needs to engage charities with the "Big Society"  David Cameron has said that the Big Society is his passion. Now passion for a cause or concept is something that charity folk know a little bit about, I believe. And communicating passion is something that charity communicators know quite […]
11 March 2010
CharityComms director Vicky Browning considers branding challenges  What links an obscure Welsh village with a choice between red or blue packaging for a type of condom? The problems of international branding, naturally. The in-house joke with staff at DFID is that anyone not recognising the acronym for the Department For International Development would think it was […]