Charity lessons from Mencap’s Here I Am campaign – by Richard Sved

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The other day, a charity advertisement in the bus shelter across the road from my house caught my attention. It’s the one pictured above, part of Mencap’s Here I Am campaign.

It’s a bold image, in every sense. Larger than life, and daring you not to ignore her is Ellen, an actor and writer. There’s such strong personality and mischievousness in her face, and she’s sticking her tongue out.

The words underneath the arresting picture make an important statement. Ellen is not a learning disability. She is a person with vibrancy, character and interests first.

I like that this campaign gives a voice to people with a learning disability. And to me, that voice is saying, “Notice me! Understand me! Let me tell you about who I am.”

And what I like about this most is the timing of it. This is campaigning in every sense of the word, at a time when the extent to which charities should get involved in campaigning is being questioned and is under threat.

This is important stuff. Because real charity work, in my view, isn’t about doers and beneficiaries. It’s about empowerment, making a difference, engendering change. We hide away too often.

Charities, like Ellen and like Mencap here, need to be bolder.

We need to show our personality. We need to stop hiding away for fear of surprising people. We need to confront and challenge when it’s necessary to further our cause, or to be understood. And we need to have authentic voices.

Let’s learn from Mencap, get our faces in extreme close up, and declare “Here I am!”

Co-published with 3rd Sector Mission Control

Richard can also be found on twitter here!

When you accidentally take a blog hiatus!

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Dear FOTF readers,

I sincerely apologise for my accidental hiatus! As some of you may know, I recently started a brand new job and I have been super distracted by training, networking, events and getting to know some wonderful new donors!

Please forgive me. I promise to be posting much more regularly from now! I also have already had lots of inspiration from my new job for several blog posts, so watch this space! =)

While I’ve got your attention, I would love to hear what you’ve been up to. Why not write a guest blog and share your stories?

Once again, thank you for bearing with me during this exciting time!

Love Viki x

Start your relationships right!

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Getting off on the right foot when it comes to donor relationships is SO important. You want to make sure that from the beginning, your supporters know you are not some robot-run organisation and that you are real people that care about them. (People give to people after all!)

After careful persuasion (as somehow our email list was in the hands of someone who neither knows or cares about building relationships) our charity email list came into the management of fundraising and now, whenever someone new signs up to our email list, I send them a personal email, along the lines of;

Hi Jane,

Thank you for signing up to the *organisation* email updates! I would be thrilled to know how you heard of us and if there is any area of *organisations work* that you are interested in?

Once again, thanks for signing up, I hope you enjoy receiving our emails!

Best wishes


This is a great way of opening the line of communication. They’re already engaged because they signed up to your email list and it allows them a chance to tell you about why they are interested and what they are hoping to get from your organisation.

Not all of them will reply, but some will and those are the ones you can really develop relationships with.

In my personal experience I’ve found new ambassadors, new donors, previous supporters, professionals in my organisations work, challenge event participants and so many others from doing this simple trick. Setting aside just ten minutes to check for new subscribers and sending a quick email is such a great way to kick-start your supporter relationships in the right way!

Give it a go and let me know how it works for you!