Going on an awareness journey

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Maureen Mallon reflects on the steps OSCR has taken to meet its vision and explains how the same principles apply to many charities

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13th May 2019 by TFN Guest 1 Comment

Like every organisation, we work towards our vision. Our vision is of charities you can trust that provide public benefit.

A key part of meeting this vision is spreading the word about our work and services to people working within the third sector and the general public.

You may be thinking, ‘that is all fine and well but why do I care?’ I’ve noticed that the road travelled by OSCR on this journey has a lot of the same twists and turns as many of the charities we regulate. It is about letting people know about your work and empowering the people who work here to meet their duties and make maximum impact for best value.

There are so many charities out there who are do great work and could be making an even bigger impact if more people knew about them. But money and time is stopping you, right? Yes, it can be hard to make the time to shout about your work but I cannot stress enough the importance of doing so. You have so many tools at your disposal to engage with people these days.

OSCR puts a lot of thought and energy into its social media content to allow us to engage with thousands of people every week. We looked at what other organisations were doing, and spoke to experts about what would work for us (and what wouldn’t). A few years ago, we would have had to spend a significant amount of money to reach that amount of people on a regular basis. Are there people in your charity that know about this stuff that could be leading and driving this work? If not, recruiting someone who does may be your next priority.

Maureen Mallon

Maureen Mallon

Steps like using social media, redesigning our website and engaging at more events contributed towards a 50% increase in public knowledge of our work in two years - the numbers speak for themselves. But we aren’t complacent and are working on a new digital strategy and action plan to take us to the next stage.

Another key challenge for us is to support charity trustees to meet their duties. Trustees told us that our guidance was too complicated and used language that most people did not understand. They also said that we did not cover all of the bases in some areas. We invested time with third sector colleagues and plain English trainers to produce easier-to-read documents in accessible formats and this has made a huge difference in understanding. The question for you is, can your staff and volunteers understand your polices, and have you covered all the areas you need to cover? Again, it may seem like a job near the bottom of the pile but putting the time to review what you have will save a lot more effort down the road.

As chief executive of OSCR, I’m in a fortunate position to see so many charities doing amazing things when I am out and about. Your dedication is remarkable and the difference you make to society is huge.

Let’s make sure everyone else knows how great you are.

Maureen Mallon is chief executive of OSCR, the Scottish Charity Regulator

3rd June 2019 by Dr Valerie Marrian

Policies rather than polices??