Some charities have recently progressed from writing text-based impacts or annual reports to experimenting with using different tools and media to talk about their results.
Earlier this year, at the Charity Finance Group’s annual conference, charities were counselled to tweet about the impact they are having, rather than produce impact reports.
This was a quest to encourage the use of social media as well as other forms of media to disseminate information.
The Guardian has revealed the opinions of some charities:
Jude Habib, creative director at the consultancy Sound Delivery, said:
“It has become crucial for charities to start to experiment with things like this.”
“Charities can’t afford not to be using multimedia and story telling to communicate impact.”
She also explained thus:
“We’ve relied on text-based reports and evaluations and I don’t think that in this age that is good enough… the use of new media for communicating impact does not need to be expensive for charities.”
“You don’t have to be commissioning a big agency.”
“Keeping things simple is a good starting point. Smartphones, for example, are fantastic content-capturing devices.”
Joe Saxton, co-founder of the consultancy nfpSynergy, told conference delegates that:
“Instead of being typically ‘boring’ when talking about what they had achieved, charities should put together short and snappy sound bites to communicate their impact.”
Calgary Zoo, based in Canada, for example, published its 2012 Annual Report on Instagram.
Cardboard Citizens, which supports homeless and displaced people through theatre and performing arts, published its 2010/11 Annual Review on a series of double-sided postcards.
Ed Cox, managing director at digital media social enterprise Reason Digital, said:
“Moving away from a traditional printed impact report could be cheaper for charities.”
He also explained that:
“A lot of organisations have realised that digital is a more cost-effective way of getting this stuff done and distributing it and you can reach a lot more people with digital.”
Infographics are also being increasingly used by charities to communicate impact, according to Cox.
However, he believes:
“Charities should be careful not to use huge numbers in these that people have difficulty relating to.”
“People have no understanding of what large numbers; like four billion people”
“Instead, when communicating impact, charities should use smaller figures that people can identify with.”
Taryn Ozorio, digital manager at Mind, said:
“It finds Twitter a useful tool for communicating its impact.”
She butressed the point that:
“Timing is key with this, and the charity has found tweeting about what it does during television shows that are talking about mental health issues a useful way to reach more people.”
Mind has also used blogs to communicate its impact, asking beneficiaries to write about their experiences.
Ozorio expressed satisfaction by saying:
“It’s a useful way of bringing what we do to life.”
And the charity has also started to experiment with other media recently, like infographics and video.
“Infographics are very easy to share, so people really like these – we put them on our Pinterest page,” she said.
“Generally we’re trying out a lot of different stuff – and if people do engage, then we’ll do it again.”