Shouting your impact from the rooftops By Jocelyn LeBlanc and Eva Garritsen, Association of Medical Research Charities Published: 10 April 2019 On 14 March we held our first ever Communicating Impact workshop where we heard from a range of charities, big and small, who were at various stages of their “impact journey”. Diabetes UK, Prostate Cancer UK, British Heart Foundation, Sarcoma UK and Muscular Dystrophy UK provided us with lots of great tips throughout the day and we wanted to share a few of these with you... Engage everyone at your organisation From the outset, engage with each team that will be using the content, to ensure it meets their different needs. This means finding out what impact means to them and what formats work best. There's no better way to spread the word of your charity’s impact than using your colleagues’ collective voice to amplify the message. If you get everyone’s buy-in and you all tell the same stories, your message will more powerful. Tailor to your audience Impact means different things to different stakeholders. We heard tips for reaching a few key audiences: Fundraising – Be sure to show past impact alongside future potential or need so that it’s clear why donations are needed. Trustees – Consider your charity’s strategic objectives and be aware of what interests, motivates and worries trustees and address these issues when communicating impact to them. Policymakers – Align to their key priorities, make information easily digestible, and make the unique charity role clear. Infographics and concise case studies work well for this time-poor audience. Pair stats with stories This one came up in almost every presentation. Connecting the head and the heart is key when communicating impact. Use stats as a platform on which to build your story and don’t use numbers without providing the context. Ensure that stats set the stage and address questions like, “What is the scale of this problem?” and “Why should we care?”. Then you can dive in with the emotive story that will stick in their mind. Carefully consider the format Speakers shared some specific tips for different communication formats. Impact reports PDF and printed reports are great to give an overview and have everything in one place. Remember that digital reports are discoverable by key word searches online whereas a PDF on your website is not. Infographics Simplicity is key. Use size, colour or imagery to make numbers or words stand out. Limit yourself to two or three brand colours so that it’s instantly recognisable as your charity. Everybody loves timelines! They have the added bonus of conveying the real timescale of research impact – something that is often hard to get across. Video case studies Try to engage the viewer in the first 6 seconds of the film. Consider different approaches depending on where you’re posting it. What works best on Facebook is different from Twitter or YouTube, for example. Use closed captions for accessibility and to ensure your message gets across even without sound. Book in enough time to build a relationship with the person you’re filming first to make sure they are comfortable and natural on film. Always consider the person’s emotional strength and support network to be sure they can handle the consequences of being involved. Repurpose! You’ve done so much hard work to collect evidence of your impact and transform this into communications material. Don’t let it waste away on a corner of your website or in your office cupboard. A full printed impact report can be adapted into a digital report, twitter cards, animations, slide decks, website content and more. Don’t limit yourself to one format. Sprinkle “impact nuggets” into all communications (in direct mailings, press releases, leaflets, etc.). Choose a different theme or topic to focus on for each quarter of the year in order to ensure you evenly cover the breadth of your impact. Create slide decks for staff or your researchers to use in presentations. Use impact materials as a re-engagement tool for donors or stakeholders who have gone cold. Our highlights from the day Eva: It was heart-warming to hear speakers give fellow AMRC members shout-outs during their presentations for great examples of communicating impact that inspired them. Jocelyn: I loved seeing the creative infographics the groups made during a 30-minute challenge to transform a written case study into an engaging visual format. They really put the advice they had heard throughout the day into practice, including tips from a graphic designer. Staying engaged after the event We wrapped up the day with each attendee reflecting on how they could apply what they learned during the workshop to a specific piece of work. They were asked to consider the audience, message, action, and format and then discussed their strategies in pairs. Before leaving they filled out postcards with a goal and deadline of when they want it posted back to them to help them put their plans into action. Resources mentioned throughout the day Hotjar Canva (for nonprofits) Piktochart Venngage Noun Project Animoto StoryFire And don’t forget good old PowerPoint, which now has infographic templates and a great selection of icons.