CIPR Not-for-Profit Group: How we have helped you in 2020

By Holly Wilkins

Thank you to members who were able to attend our Annual General Meeting on the night before the current lockdown in England. There will have been many other alternatives to spending more time on Zoom that evening, so if you were lucky enough to enjoy a last meal or drink, or perhaps even some recreational team sport, this blog post is a recap and another chance for you to contribute.

Pro-active planning

The Not-for-Profit Committee, a relatively new team, gathered together in central London in January 2020, with some having travelled from another country at inhuman hours. We wanted to form as a team and establish the priorities for supporting our members in 2020. We came up with so many ideas, we started to plan into 2021.

We based our approach on feedback we’d received through a member survey and through talking to members at our two events in 2019 about working with the media and developing digital skills. We planned three focused periods of activity across 2020, on leadership, measurement, and digital, with a range of tactics to support you, our members. 

Reactive and responsive 

You’re familiar with what happened next… After a period of our adjusting to our own working lives, the Committee got busy trying to work out what you needed. Our first webinar of the year was an open Q&A , to help us understand what members needed but also to give members a confidence boost. Our sector is often populated with lone practitioners, both in-house and freelance, and very often reassurance is the tonic that’s needed. Two events followed about the most popular themes: internal communications and fundraising and communications . A hearty thank you to all the expert practitioners who donated their time to take part in these webinars: Sarah Browning, Josephine Graham, Krishan Lathigra, Reetu Rupal, Nana Crawford, Mike Zywina and Fliss Rook.

In 2019 we live-streamed our in-person events so that members far and wide were able to attend, but we knew that wasn’t ideal. There has been a significant benefit in moving totally online: far more members can and do attend our virtual events; we can genuinely provide access to members across the country; and we can attract a greater range of high quality and diverse speakers - not just those who live in London. 

We’ve also tried to share the content as much as possible, as well as building a content team to manage our channels. The webinars are available online, if you’d like to top up your CPD points. We’ve published 9 blog posts  this year and our Twitter channel  has gained 215 followers. Engagement with our tweets has increased from 0.7% in Q4 of 2019 to an average of 1.2% in Q1 and Q2. We’ve recently re-launched the CIPR Not-fot-Profit LinkedIn page which will be an excellent platform for the Employability events series we are starting before Christmas.

Preparing for the next challenge

The challenges for Not-fot-Profit communicators continue, though they are taking a different shape as we move into 2021. Many will find themselves transitioning into a new role, a new sector or moving from in-house to freelance. To complement the CIPR’s Employability Hub , we have partnered with Prospectus to deliver a webinar focused on Being Recruited. We intend to offer follow up events in January focused on particular areas such as CV writing.

We are also launching a series focused on Diversity and Inclusion in our sector. Having reflected on the CIPR’s Race in PR report  earlier this year, as a Committee we wanted to focus on areas where we could be credible in offering our expertise. Several Committee members have professional backgrounds in disability organisations, so this is where we decided to focus first. Our first event will be on accessible digital communications and we aim to follow this up with skills guides focused on language and representation.

We intend to continue providing support in both these areas, but we are always open to suggestions, feedback and offers to get involved! Would you make a great guest speaker? Do you want to provide an advice surgery? We have an ambition to address some of the outdated CPD resources, so if you’ve spotted a guide you’d like to refresh or would like to contribute your expertise to new guidance for members, drop us an email. We always love hearing from Not-for-Profit members, you’re the reason we volunteer.

Holly Wilkins is Chair of the Not-for-Profit Committee. She is Head of Strategic Communications and Engagement at the Government Digital Service and has worked in public sector communications for 19 years, often with third sector partners.