Barnardo’s digital content manager: “Creativity can lead to innovative solutions” (Interview)

We recently caught up with Shaf Mansour, digital content manager at Barnardo’s, to look at how digital is changing the way charities communicate with their audiences and reach new donors.

| 1st May 15

We recently caught up with Shaf Mansour, digital content manager at Barnardo’s, to look at how digital is changing the way charities communicate with their audiences and reach new donors. 

What role do you see digital playing for charities in 2015 and beyond?

A hugely important role that will increasingly crossover departments and teams as charities ensure their messages are communicated to the right people, in the right places, at the right time – and within a reasonable cost.

2015 is likely to see charities focusing more on understanding their various audiences across digital channels, and considering the available data in order to develop creative and efficient methods of delivering for their beneficiaries, whether that’s through service delivery, fundraising, brand storytelling, reaching out to commissioners, etc.

For a charity deciding what their social media strategy is going to be, what would your top tip be?

Never lose sight of your objectives and your audience. Think about what it is you are trying to achieve – e.g. who are you communicating with and what would you like them to do? This naturally leads to defining how such objectives will be measured and reported. Look closely at the overriding organisational strategy and how that has been interpreted by the stakeholder teams you are working with – often the answers can be found within those – it’s important not to overthink it.

What advice would you give to charities trying to fundraise through social media?

Be resourceful with content. Sometimes it’s right there under your nose. We recently spotted a story from an amazing young girl named Poppy who was cutting her lovely long hair to raise money for Barnardo’s. The team here loved her story so much that we spoke with Poppy’s father and amplified her story on our social channels. This led to Poppy smashing her fundraising target by 810%.

Are there any online channels that charities should be paying more attention to?

I guess this depends on each charity’s objectives as there are so many new and exciting developments in digital and tech. Organisations need to be careful not to spread themselves too thinly by signing up to every new platform – saying that, it’s always great to see charities experimenting and testing as early adopters. Creativity and resourcefulness here can often lead to innovative solutions to problems. I like the buzz when a new platform is launched, such as that around Jelly last year and Periscope more recently.

What elements do you think made viral campaigns like #nomakeupselfie and #icebucketchallenge so successful?

It’s difficult to pin it to any one thing, and sometimes with virility I believe it’s a delicate recipe that requires a little sprinkle of good fortune. The main ingredients though are:

  • Simple concept that’s got a clear and simple call to action
  • Can be done at little or no cost (in terms of time and money)
  • Has an element of competitiveness or peer pressure (through tagging)
  • Easy to share

It usually helps to get a celebrity endorsement to boost the traction of these things too.

Any digital innovations up your sleeve?

Next year we’ll be celebrating Barnardo’s 150th year anniversary. This is a hugely exciting time for us as we look ahead and consider what the future looks like for the UK’s most vulnerable children and young people, and how we can be best positioned to help as many of them as we can.

Digital will play a huge part in this – in addition to a number of digital products in development, we have exciting projects planned where we’ll be using digital capabilities to test new methods of working with various stakeholders across the organisation. Working with such passionate and ambitious colleagues means there’s a certain air of excitement about what can be achieved. It’s all very exciting!