Now so much of our communication happens online, I think meeting up face to face is more important than ever. Once you make a connection with someone in the ‘real’ world you build a much deeper understanding of that person than merely tweeting them. I think we are all craving real discussion and need to try and be more social.
I go to lots of events but I still find it nerve-racking striking up conversations with people I have never met. The word networking is often something that is associated with mere transactions and dread of being in a room of people going on and on about themselves. But I wanted to design the charity meetup to create a new kind of space for people to really learn about one another and offer a supportive, non-competitive environment.
Here are my top five reasons why I think charities need to meetup:
Often if you work for a charity you can feel a little isolated, you may often be tackling problems that others are also dealing with or have overcome. By sharing and opening up you can get great insights but also the sense that you are not alone and the knowledge that there are other people out there who really understand.
Personal and professional development ends up being a bit of an afterthought. Going to events can be a great way to take charge of your own development and fill in knowledge gaps or stay up to date with new developments. I have also found mentors through meeting people in this way, who have given me tremendous support when I have needed it most.
At times working in the charity sector can feel like running up an escalator which is going down – it is exhausting – (so meeting other like-minded people who want to make real social change can help renew you.
Working within an organisation can sometimes create a bubble which means you are disconnected from the wider world. Going to these events can help reconnect with trends and new innovative developments. Often learning from other people’s successes and failures can save huge amounts of time and money. Sharing within the sector is one of the only ways we can thrive in such a challenging climate of funding cuts combined with unprecedented need.
Building your team of experts
They say it takes a village to raise a child, I like to think of each charity in a similar way. Often people who are not directly employed by the organisation can really help it surge and develop. By attending events and meeting others who share passion for your cause you can build a network of advocates and suppliers who you can rely on when you need expert help with design, marketing, copywriting, fundraising or anything else that becomes an issue. Having reliable people with specific experience in the sector who are already familiar with your organisation can help save time, money and sanity.
Here are five London based events you should go along to:
- Charity Meetup -This is my event so I am biased but it is a good one to start with as it is facilitated and very friendly and social meaning you will meet everyone attending. The next event has an innovation theme and is on the 4th of February hosted by JustGiving (run quarterly). Book online. If you can’t make the London events you can join the Facebook group which gives you access to advice and support from members.
- Social Media Exchange – Organised by Jude Habib of Sounddelivery, this annual event on the 9th Feb is an inspirational day of insights and discussion. It includes Jonny Benjamin who is an inspirational mental health campaigner and vlogger. Visit socialmediaexchange.org.uk
- Barcamp NFP – This is an annual unconference so participants create the conference on the day which makes for a day of thinking on your feet and sharing real world stories of success and failure. Organised by Laila. Find out more: barcampnonprofits.com
- NFP Tweetup – These legendary events, now in their 10th year, are founded and run by Rachel Beer. These quarterly events have themes which mainly focus on digital comms and charities showcase their projects with the group, followed by a Q&A afterwards. More info: www.nfptweetup.org
- Copywriting and Comms training days – Run by Jennifer Campbell and DSC these two annual training days in October offer great opportunities to learn from experts. Find out more: jennifer-campbell.co.uk/trainingday
- Special mention: Third sector comms Facebook group facebook.com/groups/thirdsectorcomms
Please feel free to add any events or ideas to the comments section.
Blogger: Dawn Newton
Dawn is a creative communications consultant with exceptional people skills and endless enthusiasm. She enjoys inspiring and encouraging everyone she works with. Dawn specialises in placing the audience at the heart of her marketing strategies, creating a real sense of community both online and offline.
Having worked with lots of small charities, Dawn is passionate about enabling charities to create high impact communications with minimal resources.
Clients include: Media Trust, Calthorpe Project, The Volunteer Network, Petit Miracles, Small Charities Coalition, London Youth Games, Volunteer Centre Westminster, Nike, London Early Years Foundation, Healthy Planet, and Unltd.
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