Why do graphic design and copywriting jobs never turn up on charity job boards?

Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t me grumbling. I’m keeping pretty busy work-wise, thanks.

I am just a little curious, that’s all.

By telling you that I am keeping busy I have, in some way, already answered my own question. But.. it is still a question that it’d like to put out there:

Why do graphic design and copywriting jobs never turn up on charity job boards?

Is it that  people generally think any creative can come up with great ideas that ‘sell’ a charity’s cause? Is selling financial products one day, and asking for donations to help fund some unforgiving illness another day really the same thing?

Having spent years and years crafting fundraising journeys, both in print and online, donation forms and petitions, I know that many communication professionals are not aware of the pitfalls involved in charity sector marketing. Ever since Olive Cooke, a 92-year-old poppy seller, took her own life feeling “distressed and overwhelmed” by the huge number of requests for donations she received from charities, the press and government regulations have been keeping a very sharp eye on what charities get up to.

Creating a form or doing data capture activities a much more challenging project these days. There are many pitfalls to be avoided – which you only learn about by working on projects, wherever in the charity sector.

What I have learnt from this is that each organisation tries to solve the same problem in a different way. As a freelancer, by working for a wide variety of organisations, I’m one of those few people who has many opportunities to learn yet more ways of doing things, and can transfer ideas and practices that can be applied to other organisations too.

But it isn’t just the legal communication challenges that a creative needs to take into account. All that experience means that, as an example, while I was working on a recent project on preventing child abuse by NGO participants, my team (me and and a copywriter) were not just ‘hired guns’ strictly following the client’s brief, but could make informed recommendations on what tone and voice to use, how to address that particular audience and above all, protect the dignity of the children in the process.

So, no matter what you tell me, after a day selling the latest trend in cereals this is not natural territory for commercial designers or writers to switch over to. Which is why, I really think that this industry should be actively looking to recruit creatives that are experienced in charity communications, that understand that there are many stakeholders involved in each project, that each project needs to cut through a crowded media field-  bypassing a sometimes cynical public – to reach those that want to be engaged and help the causes we are promoting.

Saying that, next time you are thinking of doing a comms project, why not consider hiring someone with experience? Or, if you can’t hire, find freelancers (no plug, honestly) which offer the experience that could add more ROI to your project than you might have thought possible?

Me, I’m Christian Guthier. Do look me up on Linkedin. or get in touch today.

What time should you send marketing emails? (infographic)

What time should you send marketing emails? That’s a constant question to which this infographic here might help give you an answer.

All charities great and small make use of emails as a cornerstone of their marketing activities, whether drumming up support for a new campaign or simply thanking valued donors for their contributions. But, similar to great comedy, timing is key.

Much like social media or shift workers, different people are active at different times and it’s vital to have an idea about the internet access habits of your key demographics to ensure the maximum chance of your latest communiques.

This infographic from HubSpot offers some invaluable insight into the the best day and time to aim for inboxes.

There may be trouble ahead…

It looks like charities are facing some immense challenges over the next few years. Commentators like Adrian Sargeant are predicting a £2 billion hole in charity income due to recommendations in the Etherington review, which is proposing changes on how charities can use donor data for fundraising.

But that’s not where the trouble stops. Let’s face it, the charity market is pretty crowded, with new charities popping up all the time. There are some 160,000 registered charitable organisations in the UK alone all vying for a relatively small pool of regular givers. Not that this makes challenging as it is. That pool of donors also gets targeted by the big fundraising events like Red Nose Day and Children in Need. For a bunch of nice people wanting to do good – competition is fierce.

In this crowded marketplace (after all, that is what it is) something will have to give. Will the bigger charities ‘eat up’ the smaller ones, similar to take-overs in the commercial world? Or will the smaller ones survive better as they appeal better to the next generation who prefer more direct engagement? After all, due to the scale of operations larger charities tend to  keep their supporter relationship at arm’s-length.

I suspect that size will not determine the survival chances of charities. People usually give to causes that are close to their hearts and that reflect their own, personal values in life. Which is why smaller, local charities (for example Sobell House) will continue to do well because of the local support they can tap into. As do those dealing with animal wellfare (Hearing Dogs for the Deaf). And, due to peopel’s personal experiences, health charities tend to benefit from generous donations (Cancer Research). Though some people also look at the bigger picture and like to support international development projects (Oxfam).

You could say that there is a charity for everybody. But… if you take a look a the list I mention above, and then google their specialist causes, you’ll find that for each one of them there are several charities doing pretty much the same thing or something similar. And that’s where things might get interesting. With increased competition for a dwindling pool of donors, will some of the weaker ones end up failing, as businesses would in the commercial world?

Talking about weaker charities failing , the last thing the charity sector needed was the collapse of Kids Company. It’s failure has revealed a sever lack of transparancy, accountability and professional management by some charities, adding another blow to donor confidence. It turns out that nearly a third of charities accounts filed with the Charity Commission are of ‘unacceptable quality’. With a tightening up of accounts requirements, this will probably mean Kids Company wont be the last failed charity we’ll be hearing about.

Not that there is a lack of other challenges to add to the list of challenges. Local government funding cuts could be a ‘silent killer’ for some small charities and leave them unable to compete with national organisations (though I’ll argue that people do like to support local causes). And then there are proposals to tighten up the definition of a charity shop, as well as new laws to tackle terrorism funding via charities, all of which is pretty confusing stuff, and confusing donors as to which charities are actually trustworthy and which aren’t. The result: a holding back on donations.

I could go on sounding a few more alarm bells. But there comes a point where it’s good to do a bit of a reality check.

Yes, “there may be trouble ahead…”, as the lyrics go, but we should also remember that the song goes on to say “let’s face the music and dance“.

Looking forward, I believe that all is possible. There are plenty of challenges ahead, but the best strategy is to face up to them. The focus will need to be on ‘upping the game’, to think smarter, and work on more integrated communications. This is the moment to make a big shift in how charities operate. Not-for-profits really need to start operating and thinking like businesses in the commercial world. Now surely is the time to rethink the sector’s communication strategy, and to invest in better marketing and donor recruitment.

Are you ready to face the music and dance?

If you would like to have a no-obligation talk about your organisation’s fundraising communications, you should give us a call on 0797 6012 820.

So, you really think you are creative?

A few years ago we did this 30 second brain test (link below) in a large marketing studio, to find out who the most creative workers in the department were.

Before we took the test we all assumed that, for example, graphic designers (like myself), would end up scoring high on the creative spectrum, and others would be over towards the more logical side of the spectrum. The results turned our understanding what we do for a living on it’s head.

It turns out that designers actually have highly practical and analytical minds. Designers are actually organisers of information rather than the creative geniuses they like to think they are. Copy writers on the other hand did a whole lot better on creative scale with administrators, and above all the PA to the Comms Director, turning out to be the most creative of all!

The question we were left with was: Is design about a much more rational process, organising information that stimulates the creative imagination of the audience — rather than the other way round? I’m still trying to figure this one out.

But why speculate? Take the test yourself. Be honest in your answers and see how you do in the 30 second brain test.

5 reasons Instagram matters, big time

This is a big statement from MDG Advertising: Instagram may be the single biggest opportunity for social media marketers next year. Can it be true? We’ve heard plenty this year from Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, as their uses and back end business deals fluctuate, but Instagram has been the steady social platform not making too much noise. But that just might be what makes it 2016’s winner. Its consistency has made it the fastest growing platform around right now, and MDG has gathered fresh data to prove why marketers everywhere should be factoring Instagram into their budgets.

A few key takeaways from the infographic:

> The platform is already massive and it’s growing. There are 400 million active monthly users (we said active) who are liking photos to the tune of 2.5 billion per day. Over a quarter of the U.S adult population is on Instagram. They’re there and they’re engaged. What more can you ask for?

> The demographic that uses the platform the most is the money demographic. Over half of Instagram users are under 29 and 62% are teenagers. One third of U.S teens say it’s the most important social network. If you or your brand is looking to capture the aesthetically-minded youth, there is no platform more crucial for your social strategy than Instagram.

> It’s got everything marketers need to advertise to their heart’s content. There are several options for style and targeting, and the highly visual nature of Instagram content is perfect for beauty brands, fitness brands, lifestyle brands, and more to capitalise on the rush to mobile ecommerce.

And if I needed any confirmation, my teenage daughters heard about the Paris terrorist attacks before I did – via Instagram. As a medium that reaches a large audience at twitter speed, you can’t beat it.

Will you be making Instagram a priority in 2016? Check out the infographic below and judge for yourself:

 Instagram infographic

What can Marketeers learn from Jeremy Corbyn?

This is a response to an article on the Marketing Partner‘s article asking: “What can Marketeers learn from Jeremy Corbyn?”


Remember the old adage: Oppositions don’t “win” elections, governments “lose” them.

What the mainstream politicians have done over the last decades is to consistently lie, lie and lie a bit more.

‘Wot did it for Labour’: Tony Blaire’s dodgy dossier dragged us into a war nobody wanted and which, as evidence has shown in the meantime, was based on false ‘evidence’ (there were no WMD after all).

Or for the Conservatives, David Cameron’s (too) many broken election promises. From “We’ll be the greenest government ever” to “We won’t scrap Child Tax Credits”, to “We’ll protect the NHS”. Take your pick. There are plenty more to chose from.

People are equally sceptical about the friends our governments cosy up to: from the head-chopping Saudis to the Palestinian-bashing Israelis, to the job-destroying Chinese.

This is what has created disillusioned voters.

And it is not just the political mainstream that is under fire, but a wider range of organisations. Just look at the VW scandal, FIFA, drugs in athletics, or the tax evasion by big corporations like Amazon, Starbucks.

If you’ve been watching Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s War on Waste, you’ll have seen that on their website Waitrose promises to be ethical and give surplus food to charities rather than binning it. Yet Hugh and his crew found bins full of perfectly edible food at the back of the stores.

This is a perfect example of companies breaking promises. Morrison’s say they work closely with their farmers… Yeah, right. Let’s get real. VW is not alone in fudging the truth. These companies, just like our politicians, are in danger of losing the trust of their customers.

This is what has created disillusioned customers.

To sum it up: people are discontent with what the mainstream is offering. And Corbyn turned up at the right time, right place.

He made his stand at the perfect moment, becoming a lightning rod for the discontent. 10 years ago he wouldn’t have got anywhere. But now is his moment. This is what makes him a potent opponent. No matter what smears the press throw at him, if he persists with displaying the attributes you mention, he is someone to watch out for.

In an attempt to break form the betrayal by the mainstream of politics, the electorate once turned to the Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage, but now has turned to the SNP (which is limited to Scotland but has broader appeal) and Corbyn.

To get back to your point though: “What do marketeers have to learn from Corbyn”.

So if marketeers really, really want to learn a lesson here, they and their clients first need to look at what it is that they are doing wrong. And setting that to rights.

Stand truthfully by what you are saying and doing. Don’t ‘greenwash’ your operation for example like Waitrose and Morrisons try and do. Practice what you preach. And be 100% committed – from the top down to the shop floor. No fudging. No: “we must watch or profit margin first”.

By breaking away from the corporate ‘middle ground’ companies and organisations could really gain their own, distinct voice and identity, and above all, gain the trust of a wider range of customers.

Corbynism is a simple brand to understand: be truthful and principled, and the rest will come to you when the moment is right and the other players fall by the wayside. If you just do what the others do because they appear to doing it right, you could get tarred with the same brush as they will be at some point down the line.

And here is one point not mentioned in Corbyn’s attributes: don’t just believe in what you do, but think long-term, and stick to it.

The UCAS.com video wall

The UCAS.com video wall

Charities, for obvious reasons, are chasing the pound from donors who have the means to do so. Yet that seems to neglect the next generation of donors with whom they could build better, lasting relationships – if only they’d engage that audience early on. Here is a great opportunity to start this journey, from getting this audience involved as volunteers, campaigners and fundraisers.

All you need is a more creative approach – and a launchpad, such as the amazing UCAS.com video wall. The numbers they can reach are impressive: ucas.com averages 14 million impressions per month – 500,000 applicants and 2 million students.