For the past two years, I’ve been compiling material for a book that aims to act as a call to arms for the charity sector, urging leaders to listen to and empower their audiences.
Now Who cares? Building audience-centred engagement strategies in the non-profit sector has been published by CharityComms. Right now, many charities are in the fight of their lives – labouring under the twin Covid impacts of depressed fundraising income and increasing service demand. I hope the practical ideas and case studies in Who cares? can help them survive and continue to deliver their essential life-changing work.
I’ve spent virtually my whole career helping public sector and non-profit organisations communicate better. Joining Claremont – where audience insight and smart strategic thinking are integral to behaviour change communications – feels like a natural fit, and I’m excited for the days ahead.
Who cares? is aimed at non-profits, but its advice feels relevant to any organisation in any sector working to challenge inequality and change things for the better. After all, you’ll never do it alone. Here are my three takeouts for anyone working to put audiences at the heart of their organisation.
1. They’re people first, your audiences second. Whether they’re first-time dads, netball fans or MPs (or all three), your audiences have their own lives, goals, and ideas about how to spend their time. They’ll rarely if ever think about you. To engage them, work out how you can help them achieve their goals. If you find a way for them to do this that also contributes to your aims, you’ve struck gold.
2. Research, research, research. You’ll only know your audiences’ goals if you’re continually listening (and responding). You can’t remain remote from those you want to engage, and still expect them to notice you, let alone change their minds or behaviours. I was attracted to join Claremont by the team’s relentless focus on audience research, which goes way beyond simply extracting insights, to also employing co-design approaches, so that audiences become partners in designing communications.
3. Big tactics bring strategies to life. I’m a big fan of Who cares? author Joe Barrell’s approach to distilling endless lists of ideas into a small number of creative ‘big tactics’ – two or three fundable and impactful activities that pull the diverse strands of your strategy together and help your stakeholders see what’s possible.