How to write an achievements page for your charity By Richard Berks, freelance science writer for charities Published: 14 September 2020 In this third and final part of this series, I am going to explain why you need an achievements page as part of your website and how you might write one. Over the past two blogs, we have covered how to write and present lay summaries of your research projects, to encourage continued support of your charity. An achievements page has the same aim. A webpage which summarises your charity’s research successes is important for credibility – if your supporters know what you’ve done in the past, they can trust that you’ll spend their money wisely in the future. It can be a very useful internal resource for colleagues too. Having looked at the achievement pages of a range medical research charities, I think there are four key things you need to consider when gathering and presenting this information. 1. How to choose what to talk about The short answer is pick the achievements with the biggest impact. You get to decide what exactly that means for your organisation. This could be direct or indirect impact for your charity’s ‘beneficiaries’. Generally, I think it’s better to pick a few really outstanding achievements than lots of small wins. Examples: Versus Arthritis have focused on six stories which illustrate the breadth of their work, and the real impact they had for people living with arthritis. Prostate Cancer UK has taken a similar approach and focussed on five examples of their impact for men with prostate cancer. Asthma UK has trimmed it down to three success stories. Alzheimer’s Society has opted for a nice and simple 'top ten' achievements. 2. How to organise it Timelines are a classic way of presenting what an organisation has achieved, particularly for charities with a long history. They also give a chance to demonstrate what things were like in the past and how things have changed since because of the charity’s work. British Heart Foundation has done this in their timeline, and Great Ormond Street Hospital explicitly compares old with new by using clever overlaying of photographs in a recent digital annual report. Alternatives to timelines include organising your achievements by… Disease area: If your charity works in a broad area of health, then you could talk about the impact made on particular conditions in that area. Cancer Research UK have done this by making their impressive timeline filterable by cancer type. Disease stage: You could also organise it by different ‘stages’ of the disease. For example, Alzheimer’s Research UK have separated their research achievements into prevention, diagnosis, and treatments. Area of work: Another option could be to highlight the different ways you work. On their achievements webpage, Parkinson’s UK has highlighted different strands of their research, including early-stage science, developing treatments, clinical trials, and improving quality of life. 3. How to present it to make it appealing Case studies A great way to get across your charity’s achievements is to use examples of people who have benefited from them. Saying something like “thousands of people have benefitted…” is impressive. But people will feel it much more if you tell the story of one of these people. Going back to the British Heart Foundation’s timeline, notice how they’ve put three people right at the top, telling their own story about how they have benefited from BHF’s research. On their achievements page , Diabetes UK has done this with a few name-drops: “We’ve helped Professor Roy Taylor tackle sight loss, we’re helping people like Bruce produce their own insulin and we’re putting Type 2 diabetes into remission for people like Tony.” Reading this, you immediately want to find out who Roy, Bruce, and Tony are – and luckily you can, by clicking through to read the rest of their stories. And in Prostate Cancer UK’s five examples of impact, each one is told by the researchers involved – highlighting the people behind each achievement, as well as the people who benefit from them. Imagery Clever use of imagery can help bring a page alive. For Action Medical Research, their successes are highlighted using a wide range of images of children, researchers, and families. MS Society’s achievement timeline avoids the clutter found on some timelines by using nice simple photographs, icons, and some neat animated GIFs too. Short snappy copy Keep it simple by providing a short summary of each achievement, with links to find out more. This provides the highlights, whilst avoiding a ‘wall of text’, and allows for other things like images, quotes, and videos. Cancer Research UK have done this very well in their timeline of achievements. 4. How to make it about the future (as well as the past) There’s a small but real risk that anything about your charity’s achievements can leave readers feeling complacent. Focus too much on all the amazing things you’ve done, and maybe people will think that you don’t need their help. Even worse, it might even come across as ignorant to the problems that people still face today. However, some charities have avoided this and made their achievements as much about the future as the past. When it comes to timelines, it makes most sense to start with the past and work through to the present, which logically leads to talking about the future. Have another look at this timeline from MS Society and you’ll see what I mean – they’ve included an ‘Into the future’ section to make this point. The words we use can subtly prompt people to think about the future. For example, words like “achievements”, “history”, and “successes” feel like they’re in the past. But words like “advances” or “progress” (as used by The Brain Tumour Charity or Alzheimer’s Research UK) feel like they have forward momentum, moving readers into tomorrow. Parkinson’s UK have called their page “Our research achievements so far” (my emphasis), a subtle reminder than there’s more great things to come. Talking about the future gives your charity the opportunity to ask for support. On an achievements page, it says, “we’ve come so far, but we still have much more to do – will you help us?”. That’s why many charities ask for donations on their achievements pages, such as this one from MS Society. Putting together information about your charity’s achievements can be daunting. But with a little care, it is possible to create something engaging, which celebrates your amazing work whilst making a clear case for future support.