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Insights about Charity

How to make corporate and charity partnerships work to create maximum impact

There is no doubt that for many charities it is a difficult time. Fundraising, while never easy, has become even tougher with many of the staple formats unavailable and previous donors unable to give. With everything in flux, it is hard to know what the future will look like, but it is extremely likely that ... more

Now’s the time for visibility

I’ve done a fair amount of training and consultancy around communicating in a crisis over the years, complacently believing that for many of the participants, it would remain a store of unneeded knowledge and approaches. Well, as far as crises go, it’s Christmas and for many organisations, pretty much everything they are putting out currently, ... more

20 May 2020
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There’s no ‘I’ in purpose

As I sit at my bespoke home-working space – or “kitchen table”, as it’s more commonly known – I’m chasing a client for late payment of an invoice, one that predates the current troubles we are all facing. This will be an all too familiar feeling to many working for an agency, particularly if you’re ... more

16 April 2020
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Communicating with kindness

COVID-19 – such an anodyne, anonymous collection of letters but one that has thrown the world off its axis and fundamentally changed millions of lives at a bewildering speed. It has also spawned an avalanche of communication from pretty much every organisation under the sun. If you are not currently self-isolating from this deluge you ... more

30 March 2020
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Tackling isolation through digital innovation

Last week brought to a close, a 10 month project which we have been working closely with our client Nesta Challenges and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on, to launch the Tech to Connect Challenge – an England-wide competition to scale tech-based solutions to reduce social isolation. Tech can be alienating or ... more

Changing hearts and minds

When was the last time you changed your mind on an important issue? For many people, the answer is likely to be ‘a long time ago’. There’s no doubt we’re living in divided times. So, it’s important to understand why people feel the way they do, how to connect across divides, and ways to help ... more

11 March 2020

Where’s the action on International Women’s Day?

It’s International Women’s Day. Which means a lot of things are all happening at once. We’re celebrating the truly amazing achievements of women around the world. We’re also calling for equality of opportunity and recognition. Richard Herring is no doubt spending the day on Twitter reminding disgruntled users that, yes, there is an International Men’s ... more

What a difference a year makes

My 2019 calendar social impact story reflects on a year when we finally started to wake up to the threat of the climate emergency… January   We kicked off the year in our fabulous new offices. A quiet but important policy came into effect with the revised Corporate Governance Code strengthening director responsibilities for listed companies ... more

Three Weddings and a Dress

It started with someone borrowing trousers for fancy dress, then something for a wedding, a graduation and so on. We now swap Winter coats for whole seasons and lend each other entire holiday wardrobes. At Forster, our ever-increasing understanding of the environmental and human cost of fast fashion meant that many of us no longer ... more

Ideas plus people – the equation for better health

Big problems need radical ideas and action and they don’t come much bigger than improving health. In 2019, Forster has been helping clients promote radical ideas and inspire action off the back of them. The partnership we helped create between the Daily Mail and Helpforce inspired 33,000 people to volunteer with the NHS in 2019. ... more

17 December 2019
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Small and many is powerful

The cheerful gentleman on the right in this photo is Robin. He is a resident at Etheldred House, a care home in Histon, Cambridgeshire, where I live. Robin suffered a brain injury a few years back and now needs care support. He is unusual in that he is resident in the same care home as ... more

17 December 2019
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Reach out and connect

Back in 2013, the health secretary described loneliness among older people as “our national shame”. Fast forward to 2019 and more than nine million people in the UK say they “often or always” feel lonely. The loneliness epidemic isn’t new, and we are doing more to tackle it at a systemic level, but it often ... more

17 December 2019
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When funders get active

Big problems abound and urgent action is required to tackle them. Perhaps it has always been that way, but something has changed and there is an exciting shift in how many social funders are ramping up their approach to positive change. It is marked by a decisive move towards being more active and taking a ... more

21 November 2019
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Achieving environmental ambition is everyone’s business

Bold ambitions on achieving net zero, removing single use plastics, running fast food toy take-back schemes and transforming supply chains, fill our daily news feeds. This is a good thing. It shows how environmental issues and the climate emergency have massively catapulted into our collective consciousness. But ambition and easy-to-get-away tactical comms initiatives are just ... more

21 November 2019
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Listen to be heard

Membership organisations are under intense pressure.  They need to retain their current members, build their membership base and generate income in order to optimise the services they offer. With resources limited on both sides – as members rigorously evaluate how they prioritise spend and organisations strive for efficiency – we are seeing different reactions. Some ... more

27 August 2019

Movements – the Holy Grail for social change or the voluntary sector’s magic unicorn?

I was recently asked to come and do a short talk about movements at a civil society event, partly because I’ve worked on a few recently for charities and businesses, and partly because Forster has a long history of developing and promoting movements for social change. The first thing I do before giving a talk ... more

29 July 2019

Tackling isolation through innovation

We’re working on a great project with Nesta Challenges at the moment, relevant to all civil society organisations working to address social isolation. Tech can be alienating or divisive for those that are isolated, so we want to help civil society translate their knowledge into good ideas for new ways to connect people. The prize ... more

21 June 2019
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Finding your opportunity point

Following the publication of our blog on Edie, CAF and Forster Communications brought together sustainability leaders from a range of industries to discuss sustainability leadership and identify opportunities to inspire action and greater collaboration within and beyond their organisations. We were delighted to have David Croft, Global Director of Sustainability at RB, and Hil Berg, ... more

17 June 2019

Destinations are great, but journeys are important too

Read the full report here There has been a sea-change in the business sector over the last generation, where the focus on how organisations can operate ethically and sustainably has moved from the margins to the mainstream. Those responsible for corporate responsibility or sustainability now sit at the top table in many boardrooms. The voluntary ... more

24 April 2019

Improving access to free mental health training for SME’s

Our ambition is to help give people access to the products, information and services they need to support their health, and the confidence and ability they need to use it to live well. Which is why we are so proud to be involved in the development of a new e-learning tool for SME’s. Small and ... more

16 April 2019
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Will the new code crack it?

This week, the Wates Principles were published as new guidance for large private companies, reiterating the need for them to behave in a way that benefits society as well as the economy, building trust and confidence among all stakeholders. It is an important moment, recognising the impact of the private business sector, and sits alongside ... more

Time for charities to show their workings

Scandal – if it were a commodity that could be traded, some investors would have become seriously rich this year as we have been drowning in the stuff. It is hard to think of a sector that hasn’t been hit by scandal in 2018 and sadly that includes civil society. The Oxfam abuse scandal put ... more

12 December 2018

Transforming NHS volunteering

We launched Helpforce to the public via an exclusive, in depth interview with David Brindle in the Guardian on 6 December 2017. On 1 December 2018, the Daily Mail filled eight pages to encourage people to pledge time to support the NHS, yielding an incredible response from people of all ages across the country – ... more

12 December 2018
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Are you preparing for change? 4 key planning considerations for charity leaders

It’s that time of year again.  Charity leaders will be in the middle of planning for 2019/20, reviewing the nuts and bolts of operations and making budget decisions. At a time of intense political and economic uncertainty, there is one thing we can all be sure of – each CEO will want their organisation to ... more

6 November 2018

Mental health – from awareness to action

Awareness and understanding of mental health has dramatically increased in the last 20 years, thanks in part to pioneering campaigns like MindOut for Mental Health that we helped to create. Yet, one in four people in the UK still experience mental health problems each year[1] and it cost 300,000 people their jobs[2]. Within the UK, ... more

9 October 2018
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We need safe spaces to challenge the status quo

Every year the UN celebrates International Youth Day, and this year the theme is Safe Spaces. A ‘safe space’ is not a tangible or physical location, more a descriptor of a culture in which people can share their experiences without judgement, in an environment where they can exist free from violence, harassment, or hate speech. ... more

Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals is everyone’s business but how do you convince everyone else of that?

This week Measuring Up, the first comprehensive assessment of the UK’s performance against the SDGs, was released. It makes for tough reading. The UK is performing well on only a quarter of all the goals, and the profound problems of poverty and malnutrition are on the rise. This matters for every business in the UK ... more

You are not alone

How do you solve really big problems? The answer never changes but always bares repeating – by working together. There is of course something very romantic about a lone visionary labouring away in a lab / garage / garden shed to conjure up game-changing inventions, innovations and insights, but the reality is far more likely ... more

Put away the paint tins

Employee volunteering seems to be growing up, if the number of organisations offering to help employers create schemes is anything to go by. While David Cameron’s 2015 announcement on introducing a mandatory 3 days volunteering leave has come to nothing, the culture of supporting employees to volunteer is well established – most large employers will ... more

8 May 2018

Think Global, Act Local

PR agencies spend a lot of time talking about living their values, for themselves and their clients. It is an important thing to do in an industry that gets shaken by scandals like Bell Pottinger every few years, where companies have forgotten that this mantra needs to be practised and not just preached. It was ... more

Improving health

We have been named ‘Britain’s Healthiest Workplace’ for the past two years by Vitality Health and ‘Best for the World’ for in the staff, overall and long term categories by the B Corps movement, but we wanted to dig into more detail, to understand where we’re doing best and where we could do even better. ... more

25 January 2018
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Society and the environment – our impact

No matter how innovative and progressive we are on improving health through our clients and employees, we also do our best to reduce our environmental footprint and have a positive impact on our community. Here are some of the things we have done: Staff volunteering: all our staff volunteered for a day for FoodCycle, creating ... more

25 January 2018
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Living Well

Encourage people to live well and we can reduce the incidence of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancers, and so ease the strain on our health systems and help people live healthier, happier lives. This is no better illustrated than with the case of diabetes – a largely preventable life-changing condition that ... more

25 January 2018

Shining a light

Since Forster’s inception, we’ve been proud to shine a light on issues that are considered taboo or ignored by others. Back in 2003, we launched the first ever integrated mental health campaign – MindOut – at a time when mental health was still very much a taboo topic. Back then, we helped raised awareness, smashed ... more

25 January 2018
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Health – Looking ahead

Giving people access to the products, information and services they need to support their health, and the confidence and ability they need to use it to live well. That’s a big goal, so we have broken it down into a series of commitments and targets covering each of our spheres of impact ... more

25 January 2018
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Poverty …Time for a rebrand?

Are we too posh to talk about poverty? It would seem so, judging by the latest report from the venerable Joseph Rowntree Foundation. ... more

5 December 2017

Restoring dignity and hope – Kenya’s fight against fistula

When you work in social change communications, you can sometimes feel a long way from the actual social change. Recently Laura Hedges, a senior consultant at Forster Communications, got the chance to experience first-hand the impact of the campaign she helped to develop and implement for Astellas Pharma Europe, a campaign that is tackling one ... more

8 November 2017

Learning lessons in Lebanon

Accompanied by my friend and consulting associate, Dalia Farouki, the Middle Eastern leg of my book tour started with meeting the head of CSR at one of Lebanon’s best known banks and ended, via several other meetings, at the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business in the pristine grounds of the American University of Beirut (AUB). The first thing to ... more

8 November 2017

If we ran the country (or at least the communications bit)

Leadership has always been important, but it is particularly so as we enter the uncharted waters of Brexit. Our current (unelected, remember) Prime Minister is a case in point – someone who needs to show the right kind of leadership while navigating a divided country through at least two years of uncertainty and disagreement. We ... more

22 March 2017
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The state isn’t the only game in town

Budgets generally leave many feeling disappointed, particularly those campaigning on a specific issue. When the media does its traditional winners and losers analysis of the impact of a budget, the loser column tends to be the longer one. For most organisations campaigning for change, their responses generally begin with a variation on “We’re disappointed that ... more

9 March 2017

Making the target a reality

When it comes to encouraging urgent action on a specific issue, it helps to have a real and significant target or statistic. That is certainly the case when it comes to the need to increase the number of people aged 50 and over in employment. While there is a rise taking place (9.8 million were ... more

9 February 2017
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It’s all about the application

In the lead up to FutureFest last month, Nesta carried out a survey which revealed that more people would rather live now than in 20 years’ time. Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive at Nesta, reminded us that our future is a choice; we have an opportunity to change this fear into possibility. “The concept of the ... more

Identity crisis for charities

As umbrella terms go, “charity” is a pretty good one to be lumped in with, certainly better than political party or bank. Despite the recent and worrying decline in public trust and confidence in the charity sector, there remains a huge well of public goodwill. It isn’t just the public either – 69% of MPs ... more

15 September 2016

22 years: Proof Positive

We’ve been thinking positively and working with our clients to make real positive change for the last 22 years. Here are just a few of the things we’re most proud of which show that if businesses, governments, charities and people work together, we can make good things happen…   In 2003 we created Seeing is ... more

Watch your language to reap the business benefits

An age-shift is underway in society. People are living longer but we haven’t yet fully woken up to the value of older adults. Just check out the language often used to talk to or about older people – demeaning and diminishing words and phrases that reinforce ignorance and institutional ageist attitudes. In terms of their ... more

13 July 2016
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Combatting ageism, fear and loathing in Brexit Britain

For many years ageist attitudes and behaviours have gone unchallenged in the UK. With Brexit deepening the generational divide and triggering an outpouring of ageist vitriol, the need to tackle age discrimination is now more urgent than ever before.  As we grapple with the ramifications of the EU Referendum result, one thing is abundantly clear: ... more

7 July 2016
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That was then, this is now

Here at Forster we have spent the last week or so mostly sighing – with resignation, exasperation, discombobulation, surprise and disappointment. However, you can only be struck dumb for so long, and we’ve pulled ourselves together specifically thinking about what all this means for the voluntary sector. Let’s start with a statement of the obvious ... more

4 July 2016

Our panel debate with

Panel debate hosted by and Forster Communications exploring why deeper and sustained relationships with customers, donors and supporters are more important than ever to achieve lasting social change. ... more

14 April 2016

Seed the fertile ground between charities and businesses

The case for forging closer links between business and charities is more compelling than ever. There is a financial imperative for charities to find new sources of income, and business offers obvious attractions in that area. Charities are also constantly looking for new ways to deliver against their mission and with the ongoing retreat of ... more

16 March 2016

How cashless giving can improve our trust in charities

Financial transactions made via digital technology are fast becoming the norm. It’s faster (tap-and-go), tidier (no piggy banks required), and arguably more reliable than exchanging cold hard cash. Whether a cash exchange is physical or virtual, the value of a pound or penny remains the same – the only major difference is the trust we ... more

16 March 2016

Leading from the front, back, top, bottom, middle, outside and inside

Charities are currently under a harsh media glare for excessive salaries, dodgy fundraising practices and daring to bite the government hand that feeds them, amongst other things. Businesses that take a stance on social change issues are often cited for cosmetic CSR, hypocrisy and not sticking to the knitting of making money. From a communications ... more

16 March 2016

We don’t just listen, we act: Samaritans and Network Rail Partnership raises the bar for corporate charity partnerships

Samaritans recently launched We Listen, the latest campaign from the charity’s partnership with Network Rail and the wider rail industry aiming to support those who could benefit from somebody really listening the their problems. The creative is clever in the way it demands a response from the reader and it’s great to see the charity ... more

3 March 2016

The not-so-new world of virtual reality

Everyone’s talking about it, but what is virtual reality and how can charities use it? People have been experimenting with virtual reality (VR) since the early 1800s when panoramic paintings became popular. Entire rooms were painted with an extended scene to give people the perception of seeing at 360 degrees. These days, virtual reality simply means the use ... more

18 February 2016

There’s no I in team but there is in accountability

There was much to ponder following the slow motion car crash recorded in the documentary on Kid’s company last week, but what struck me most was the importance of the personal pronoun. Throughout the film, Camila Batmanghelidjh used “I” when describing pretty much every aspect of the charity’s operation, except, tellingly, when the darkest hour ... more

9 February 2016

Bringing business to society

As the year comes to an end, you would be forgiven for believing the world has never been in worse shape. Social unrest, environmental devastation, economic uncertainty, multiple conflicts and the seemingly relentless rise of extremism – all have reared their heads repeatedly in 2015. But, you’d be wrong. The world is currently more peaceful, ... more

The charity sector needs to campaign for its reputation

Predictably the recent Times exposure have inspired much gnashing of teeth and cries of “why us?” – just as the previous scandals and crises have done so. It is a legitimate question to ask – it is not paranoid to think someone is out to get you when someone is really out to get you. ... more

22 December 2015
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A year of digital milestones

We live in a fast moving digital world and it can be hard to keep up with all the latest innovations. Below are ten of the biggest digital developments in 2015. Sign up here to receive our regular round-up of digital news in 2016. Virtual Reality just got real Facebook launched 360 Video, completely changing the ... more

Championing change-makers in businesses

Businesses have long been at the vanguard of driving social and environmental change, and that change is often powered by an individual within the business with the passion, commitment and ability to make things happen Finding, celebrating and supporting those individuals is crucial to getting more businesses involved in positive change, which is why we ... more

Study reveals issues that mattered most in 2015

Homelessness, feminism and mental health establish themselves in national psyche As the year comes to a close and attention turns to the year that was, Forster, the communications agency working with businesses and charities to accelerate change, today reveals the social issues that most captured the nation’s attention over the last 12 months. Social media ... more

Trust in charities remains strong: just ask newspaper editors

Tis the season to be merry.  You can tell by the Christmas charity appeals in our newspapers.  Towards the end of each year hard-nosed editors reach deep into their souls and nominate one or more charities who will benefit from readers’ generosity and will receive the sort of positive, upbeat editorial coverage that money simply ... more

9 December 2015

Giving Tuesday – a movement beyond the hashtag

#GivingTuesday launched in the US in December 2012 as a global day of giving back, aimed at balancing out the consumer flurry caused by Black Friday and Cyber Monday. On Tuesday 1st December 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centres, and students will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give back. This ... more

1 December 2015

Playing the long game: Corporate charity partnerships restricted by short term focus on financial value

Our study of the charity sector reveals the potential for corporate partnerships to work harder and achieve more for businesses and charities alike. To do this, they must take a longer term approach rather than focusing just on the potential financial return. While funds from corporates are vital, too much emphasis is put to the ... more

25 November 2015

We’re in the business of action

Raising awareness is one thing, getting people to take action is another. We’ve spent 20 years successfully inspiring the latter and have brought all that knowhow together to create our new Activation practice. It will focus on helping clients create campaigns and movements that inspire people to challenge attitudes, support a cause, change the way ... more

Open wide

Journalists have been making hay with stories about poor governance and transparency, and for once charities are not in the firing line. The police, Whitehall, the NHS, universities and GPs have all be taken to task for benefitting from financial arrangements funded by the taxpayer and hidden from the public eye. The headlines make unpleasant ... more

25 November 2015
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Movements are about consumers as well as campaigners

“We need to build a movement.” “We can’t achieve all this on our own.” “Changing society means engaging everyone to play their part.” I can guarantee that most of us who have worked in the not for profit sector have heard all these statements over the course of our careers. Rightly so. Charities and campaigning ... more

25 November 2015
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You need to be in it for the long haul

We’ve undertaken our own survey of charities on the issue of partnerships with businesses and the findings reveal the potential for partnerships to work harder and achieve more for businesses and charities alike if they both seek a longer term, more strategically driven relationship. We consulted 28 charities with annual incomes ranging from £1m to ... more

25 November 2015
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The Future of Business: When business gets smart on age…

When we are failing the old and the young, our society has come to a pretty pass. Where we are failing, however, is in an understanding of and empathy with what it means to be both 17 and 71. Today, our challenge is not so much to understand old age, or youth, as separate entities, but to understand age itself as a whole ... more

11 November 2015
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Christmas with a cause

Despite many of my Forster colleagues doing their best to convince me otherwise, it’s clear this week that the great Christmas countdown has well and truly begun – at least in the world of marketing. First we had the Starbucks red cups, attempting to convince us that nothing says Christmas better than 400 calories worth ... more

6 November 2015
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Let’s call it a challenge, not a crisis

I’m not quite sure why, but I can hazard a guess as to why Halloween seems to now be as big a news story these days as Glastonbury. When I was 10 years old I might have scrambled together a costume out of a couple of bin bags, a borrowed ballet leotard and some of ... more

27 October 2015
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World Mental Health Day – the case is clear

By Louise Aston, Wellbeing at Work Campaign Director, Business in the Community Awareness days often have very little real meaning or significance, but World Mental Health Day (10th October) is an exception. Mental health is an issue that affects everyone in society, from our friends and family, to children in our classrooms and chief executives ... more

8 October 2015
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Does the answer lie within, for communities?

With a lot of the impact of both the economic downturn and the public sector cuts still to be fully realised, there are many local communities across the UK holding their breath and fearing the worst. Some of them already feel desperate. Putting aside the rights and wrongs of this situation, it is happening, so ... more

25 August 2015
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Let’s make the most of the age of sharing

Times are hard and money is tight, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that many charities are revamping or developing volunteer programmes, hoping to get people to donate time and skills in exchange for an experience and the opportunity to make a difference. If they are half serious about it they’ll be considering how best to ... more

24 August 2015
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Why we shouldn’t be ashamed of failure

Michael’s story, part of MND’s controversial #LastSummer poster campaign. Photograph: Neo MND’s Last Summer campaign launched earlier this year caused great controversy amongst the public and voluntary sector. An awareness campaign aimed at regaining ownership of the hugely successful ice bucket challenge instead was perceived as a guilt trip for not taking part. The charity had clearly ... more

30 July 2015

Let’s put an end to One Size Fits All

We are a very different country since the launch of the NHS in 1948. Yes we are living longer lives, but not always healthier or happier ones. Health inequalities are widening, with proactive ‘expert patients’ leaping ahead of increasingly disengaged individuals with a fatalistic attitude towards their health. Patients come in all shapes and sizes, ... more

23 June 2015

Creating a shared purpose

From multidisciplinary teams in a hospital environment to broad, cross sector healthcare teams in the community, people with different expertise and interests are being increasingly expected to work together to meet healthcare targets. While funding and accountability will occupy much of the debate on ‘who’s responsible’, senior leaders and communications professionals need to urgently consider ... more

23 June 2015
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Telling the true story of care

Carers come in all shapes and sizes. They are those caring for elderly parents while holding down full time jobs and bringing up children. They are sometimes the children themselves, forgoing a childhood to care for disabled parents or siblings. Unpaid carers underpin so many families and networks, often silently plugging the gaps left by ... more

18 June 2015

There’s nothing shameful about the menopause, so why is it still considered taboo?

All women have a unique health issue that is largely ignored in the workplace: the menopause. It’s time we treated it with all the seriousness and care it deserves. And we can start by breaking the silence and ending the stigma. It was a few years back now that I remember telling a young colleague ... more

16 June 2015
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Hack it.

Imagine being thrown at the deep end with total strangers for 2 days, in a place you are not familiar with, working on challenges that aren’t directly connected to you, for organisations that aren’t going to pay you, and you are tasked to collaborate and develop solutions for challenges that may or may not have ... more

15 June 2015

Let’s give more support to our ‘hidden’ volunteers

Volunteering has been in the news of late. Recently the Financial Times reported that the Government was trying to quietly shelve its pre-election manifesto promise to give employees of large companies three days paid volunteering leave each year, despite protestations that these were merely on hold and to be published ‘in due course’. It is ... more

15 June 2015

Permission key for employee volunteering

Volunteers Week is an important celebration. Over 20 million people chose to volunteer at least once a month; they provide critical support for charities, community groups and other not-for-profit organisations and in return, are rewarded by making a difference. It’s a big number, but it should be bigger. If you look at the corporate responsibility ... more

4 June 2015

The challenge of engaging staff on mental health issues in the health sector

The need for NHS employees to be supported by health and wellbeing plans is well documented. NHS Employers estimates that 30 percent of NHS sick leave is caused by stress, costing up to £400 million a year in lost productivity, and NHS England’s Five Year Forward View has highlighted the need for Trusts to help ... more

11 May 2015
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Why it makes good business sense to take mental health seriously

The business case for addressing mental health in the workplace is overwhelming: one in four people experience a common mental health condition – such as stress, anxiety or depression – each year and the overall cost of mental health to the UK economy is estimated at £70 billion per year (4.5% of GDP). Anyone can ... more

11 May 2015
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Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, on how UK businesses are increasingly focused on supporting their employees’ mental health

With one in six workers in Britain experiencing mental health issues, and with the workplace being one of the most common areas where people report stigma and discrimination, it is vital that we pursue more inclusive workplaces focused on mental health and wellbeing as a core shared goal. Mental Health Awareness Week gives us another ... more

11 May 2015
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Instagram: visual storytelling for charities

I recently read an article in The Guardian Voluntary Sector Network highlighting that Instagram has now become a bigger network than Twitter, with 300 million active monthly users and 70 million photos posted per day. Social media is a great asset for organisations in the voluntary sector looking to reach out to the public, connect ... more

29 April 2015

#HomeSafe: Social purpose begins at home

Social purpose can mean going big. It can mean helping businesses address sustainability issues, or opening up space for conversations about mental health. But social purpose can also mean making changes a little closer to home – or in this case, in the home. At the end of March, we helped safety charity Electrical Safety ... more

27 April 2015

Women’s Aid joins with football clubs to speak out against domestic violence

Women’s Aid and football clubs around the country are coming together this week to send the message that everyone has the human right to be protected against violence, fear and intimidation at home, as part of the national campaign Football United Against Domestic Violence. We have been working with Women’s Aid and Human Rights charity ... more

24 April 2015

Mental Health at Forster

We’ve all heard the statistics; one in four people experience mental illness symptoms in any given year. What’s more, a recent survey from PRCA suggests this figure rises to a third within our sector, costing the UK economy an estimated £70 bn per year. In the last 15 years we have worked on a number ... more

13 April 2015
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The Robots Are Coming, So Get Creative!

The future is robot shaped. They’ll probably take your job and may even have sex with your partner behind your back. And I’m afraid there’s not much you can do to stop that. You can, however, prepare yourself for your new role in society – one that is a more engaged, creative version of yourself. ... more

Why long-term campaigning works: spotlight on cycling

2015 will mark the 10th anniversary of the London 7/7 tube bombings, a terrible tragedy but which had the unexpected side effect of increasing the number of people cycling to work in London. Many will have reverted back to the tube having experienced riding a bike on the capital’s roads is perhaps not as expected. ... more

Why we should all take more risks

Being afraid to fail is something that will hold you back. It is the thing that will stop you creating something memorable and impactful. Playing it safe will not only always get you the same old results but, in fact, these will continue to diminish over time as your ideas lose traction in the ever ... more

25 February 2015

Safe cosmetic surgery choices need an educated public

“You wouldn’t go for cut price brain surgery – you would want the best that you can get.” These are the stark words from Nigel Mercer, President of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) to launch Think Over Before You Make Over today – a national education campaign that aims to ... more

19 February 2015

It’s time to talk

Louise Aston, Director at Business in the Community, outlines why encouraging conversations is so important for tackling mental ill health. Last week, thousands of employees across the country replaced the usual water cooler moment of catching up on Wolf Hall or The Voice with more personal interactions, on deeply personal issues. And it was all in ... more

10 February 2015
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Taking the biscuit

When it comes to being more active, we all know what we should be doing but a growing number of us don’t seem capable of doing it. The latest figures on the amount of physical exercise we take as a nation are pretty alarming. Across England about 29% of people overall are classed as physically ... more

20 November 2014


Our work with pharmaceutical company Astellas EMEA on its Changing Tomorrow Day programme received recognition at the annual Corporate Engagement Awards in October, picking up a silver award for ‘Best Community Involvement During a CSR Programme’. Changing Tomorrow Day is an annual employee volunteering which give Astellas employees the opportunity to provide a day’s volunteering ... more

20 November 2014

The Trust Factor

We’ve all read the surveys that tell us that when it comes to trust – politicians, bankers and estate agents score pretty badly – that’s old news. But a new report out this week makes pretty bleak reading for many charities. Research commissioned by New Philanthropy Capital turns the spotlight on the voluntary sector and ... more

29 October 2014

Friends Life and Chris Boardman – getting businesses to speak up, and act, on mental health

We had been working with Friends Life indirectly for the past two years in their capacity as a leading member of the Business in the Community (BITC) Workwell programme (see more on our work with BITC in this blog). Building on the huge success of launching BITC’s mental health campaign in April, which called for ... more

17 October 2014
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Electrical Safety First awards

We’re proud to announce that our award-winning and hard-hitting safety video campaign for Electrical Safety First is now double award-winning. The Beauty Burns video, designed to raise awareness among parents and lobby manufacturers and retailers that irresponsible use of hair straighteners causes one tenth of child burns, has scooped two awards.Beauty Burns won the gold ... more

1 October 2014
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Cycle to Work Day takes off

If you didn’t cycle to work on 4th September ( it wasn’t for want of high profile media coverage or social media buzz encouraging you to do so. On behalf of our client, Cyclescheme, we secured over 30 national pieces including BBC Breakfast, Chris Evans Breakfast show, Sky News, the Daily Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, ... more

11 September 2014
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It’s a duty thing

Thousands of people give their time freely to underpin civic institutions and processes that most of us take for granted, from schools through to the criminal justice system and local government. Magistrates, school governors, local councilors, trustees – many of the core pillars of of our society are held together by the unpaid time of ... more

10 September 2014

Time for fundraising to look up

Xtraordinary Fundraising, Forster Communications and Blackbaud Inc have produced a new research report looking at the giving habits of the two older generations of UK donors – baby boomers and those born before 1945 – alongside their peers in the US and Canada, which highlights the potential they offer and the need for charities to ... more

1 September 2014

Despite trolling social media can still be a force for good

The rise of social media has increased interconnectivity amongst people and communities. Arguably, we live in two worlds: in one world we communicate with others face-to-face and in the other; where all forms of traditional communication can be avoided through the use of the internet – a ‘virtual world’. Some may argue that social media ... more

9 July 2014
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Come out and play

Forster has been working with several clients who recognise the importance of play in the lives of children. Intriguingly, some of these organisations you wouldn’t ordinarily associate with the light-heartedness of play. In the common knowledge that play is not what it used to be, they’re all coming at it from different angles, too. Is ... more

7 July 2014

Teens fly high as we launch ‘Evolution of the Teenager’

In June, we oversaw our first media campaign launch for National Citizen Service, the UK’s flagship youth programme. NCS is a two-three week placement for 16-17 years olds which brings teens from different backgrounds together and helps them build confidence, learn skills for work and life and develop social action projects that help their local ... more

7 July 2014

The business of volunteering

Do you volunteer, do you give up time to share your experience with people or projects that could benefit from your assistance? Millions of us do. Millions of us roll up our sleeves for the good of others, whether it’s weeding a community garden or sitting on a charity board. And in doing so, we ... more

3 June 2014

We’re talking about mental health, are you?

Last year, more than 15 million days of sickness absence across the UK were caused by everyday mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety or depression. And despite one in six employees (that’s your colleagues, friends and family) currently experiencing mental health issues, many businesses are not putting in place plans to ensure the mental ... more

29 April 2014
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Hard message? Get creative

As an agency that focuses on behavioural change campaigns we are often tasked with reaching audiences who are disengaged from what we are trying to say, whether this is because they are socially isolated, have ‘heard it all before’, or in many cases, more

17 April 2014

National Citizen Service

Forster has won a retained brief to work for the newly independent National Citizen Service. NCS, which is open to all 15 to 17 year olds in England and Northern Ireland, brings together young people from different backgrounds and helps them develop greater confidence, more

16 April 2014

The Big Swap

If you can’t quite bring yourself to take that slightly-too-small jumper to the charity shop but you’re too lazy for eBay then gather the clothes, books and DVDs you’re bored with and swap them for (nearly) new things on more

24 February 2014

Slaying sacred cows

Whatever your political standpoint, your personal experiences or how much importance you place on providing a ‘free at point of delivery’ health service, one thing is certain: the current model of the NHS is not sustainable. As a recent Kings Fund report stated: “If increases in spending on the NHS continue at the current rate ... more

19 February 2014
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We’ve come a long way

Mental health has never been more relevant. There’s been public outrage about the level of cuts to mental health services: The Guardian recently reported that the NHS currently allocates just 13% of its resources to treatment of mental health problems, despite these problems accounting for 23% of disease burden in England. Campaigns such as the ... more

19 February 2014
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Safety Campaign Launches

Today we are working with the Electrical Safety Council to raise awareness of the temperatures hair straighteners can reach and the fact that they are causing an increasing number of burns among children. We worked with a number of hospitals, burns consultants and university academics to gather data to support the campaign, and found that ... more

31 January 2014

International award win

Forster’s work with the Department for Transport (DfT) has won a prestigious international award. The THINK! campaign has just scooped the 2013 Prince Michael International Road Safety Premier Award for its work in raising awareness of the risks of drinking and driving. more

13 December 2013

Future positive

Rip up the past, make new rules Unlike governments, which seem enfeebled and out of time everywhere, more and more businesses are realising that they can change the world for the better by putting purpose at the centre of everything they do. In the UK, when we need to be looking ahead, much of 2014 ... more

Rip it up and start again

Today we’ve launched our new winter insight report, “Rip it up and start again” to inspire businesses to think differently about how to create change 2014.. It’s full of provocations, ideas and inspiring examples of businesses bringing their energy, flair and innovation to bear on a range of issues from an ageing population through to reducing wasteful ... more

When companies campaign

It is no longer enough for companies simply to provide a product or a service. Many consumers, employees even shareholders and senior business leaders are looking beyond the bottom line and considering the social purpose of what they do. more

26 September 2013
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Civil Partnerships?

Dr Catherine Walker, Head of Sector Trends, Evidence, Analysis & Metrics at the Directory of Social Change, considers the sometimes harsh reality of corporate – charity partnerships “The proper basis for marriage is a mutual misunderstanding.” Oscar Wilde If Oscar Wilde is correct then we may be alright, but I fear he is not. Business ... more

26 September 2013

Taking to the streets

I’m a big supporter of charities. Financially, emotionally, through the click power of my computer mouse…I’m the ‘low hanging fruit’ of fundraising, a charity fundraiser’s dream.  So why does the recent rise of door to door fundraising (the new ‘chugging’, for those who haven’t seen the recent media coverage) more

26 September 2013

Be prepared

The Chancellor’s much mooted green shoots of recovery are not visible for everyone so it is no surprise that more and more charities are looking at, and creating partnerships with other charities as well as businesses and public sector bodies. You can’t move for partner or coalition campaigns, from the IF campaign on international development ... more

25 September 2013

We’re not allowed to discriminate… but we do

Last week Forster had a session on becoming a dementia friends. For those not familiar with the scheme this is an hour’s interactive briefing run by Alzheimer’s Society, designed to make people more aware of what it is like to have dementia and the problems those with the disease encounter on a daily basis. As ... more

Plan together. Act together

Plan ahead. That’s usually good advice for any organisation considering brand development. Our recent work with the International HIV/AIDS Alliance is a case in point. Looking to enhance its engagement and relationships with all stakeholders, as one part of its ‘global 2020 strategy’, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance commissioned Forster to develop a new brand model ... more

16 July 2013
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Demonstrating social value

Jilly Forster notes how Google’s Global Impact Challenge shows how commercial organisations can demonstrate their social value and gives some tips on how they can make, retain and develop good working partnerships with non-profits who eat, live and breathe social purpose. How does a commercial business demonstrate social value? Given the direction that private business ... more

18 June 2013
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Charity shops could be for shoppers

What defines a charity shop? Discounted, second-hand goods nobody needs sold by volunteers with bad attitudes on increasingly empty high streets at low business rates? more

22 May 2013

Time to change?

Peter Kyle, Deputy CEO at ACEVO (the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations outlines the challenge faced by the voluntary sector to adapt to new realities. The last decade or so has been one of dramatic change in much of the voluntary sector, to the extent that the debates of ten years ago now ... more

22 May 2013

If you’ve got it, flaunt it

In March this year, NVCO commissioned a survey of charity professionals asking them about the financial prospects for the sector and their charity specifically more

22 May 2013

Why should I fundraise for you?

Recent research seems to indicate that people in the UK are giving less to charity than in previous years. So charities need to be doing more to attract our attention and encourage us to both give direct donations and become a fundraiser for them. But what are the factors that encourage you to fundraise for ... more

16 May 2013

Look No Hands

At a time when the disability agenda is dominated by cuts to services, undignified changes to the Disability Living Allowance and the corresponding impacts on personal dignity and choice, AbilityNet is launching a campaign called ‘Look No Hands’ which provides genuine cause for celebration. From Monday May 13th to Friday 17th May 2013 AbilityNet is ... more

14 May 2013

We’re better together

At Forster we have long recognised the value of collaboration, the leverage gained through getting different parties working together in common cause – it has always simply made sense. 2013 is rapidly shaping up as the year of partnerships, so now is a good time to have a look at our own recent take on the ... more

23 April 2013

Technology for good

I’m a communicator, not a technologist. Yet even I know that technology is not so much about finding what’s new, as using what is already here. That’s why I’m a firm believer that digital technology can be woven into the fabric of our society to tackle the most important social challenges. Throughout history we’ve seen the application ... more

22 April 2013

Streetlink pricks the conscience

‘Homelessness is a notoriously complex issue to solve,’ says CHERYL CAMPSIE. ‘Since we launched StreetLink in December, enabling the public to help via a hotline and website, over 1,500 rough sleepers have been found across England and now are in contact with services.’ StreetLink is a new hotline and website which enables concerned members of ... more

22 April 2013

For charities, commercial is good

‘The idea of commercialising charities is something that can trigger a collective gasp among sector stalwarts,’ says GEORGE AMES. ‘But money doesn’t have to be a dirty subject. Without funds to operate effectively, an organisation can achieve no good – and nobody gains from that.’ Although it is commonly accepted that, for a charity to effectively ... more

22 April 2013

Google launches £2m hunt for Britain’s most innovative social entrepreneurs

How would you use technology to change the world? If you are a British non-profit, Google is inviting you to tell them how you would use innovation to solve a specific social issue on a grand scale. On 25 March,Google launched the Global Impact Challenge, inviting British non-profits to tell them how they would use ... more

Helping you help rough sleepers

The Met Office is predicting three consecutive nights of zero temperatures this week. If you are sleeping rough these temperatures are life-threatening. Over 2000 people are estimated to currently be sleeping rough on any one night in England So the launch of the new StreetLink hotline and website yesterday, which will help connect rough sleepers ... more

13 December 2012

Giving more this Christmas

I’m hoping that I’m not the only one that has been taken by surprise that it’s the end of November, and we all know what that means – Christmas is around the corner. I’m not one for panicking about Christmas presents, especially as I have quite a small family, but this year I would quite ... more

27 November 2012


MS. Is that the same as ME? Is it something to do with Parkinson’s? Is it connected to Motor Neurone disease? How much do you really know about MS? I have to admit that up until recently, my knowledge of the condition that affects around 100,000 people in the UK was fairly poor. So being ... more

2 November 2012

A more equal society

So, it seems that I have mostly lived out my career in a working world far removed from that experienced by most people. more

11 October 2012
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International Day of the Girl

Plan International today celebrates the first ever UN International Day of the Girl  – which the organisation has campaigned to create –  as a way of highlighting the importance of investing in girls to transform communities around the world. For Plan International the day will be used to launch their Because I am a Girl ... more

11 October 2012

Silence on mental health – that’s the global crisis……

It’s not the prevalence of mental health that is the crisis – it’s the stigma and discrimination that’s the real issue.   The stigma which continues to shroud all forms mental illness is deeply unhelpful. It prevents people seeking the help that they need It prevents people talking, sharing and comparing experiences It makes it ... more

10 October 2012

The colour purple

How much does colour matter to brands? An enormous amount if this week’s Cadbury’s trademark ruling on the use of Pantone 2685C or ‘Cadbury’s purple’  is anything to go on more

5 October 2012

Is User Generated Content dying or has it just come of age?

There are countless forms of user-generated content (UGC) which we accept as the norm: tweets, blogs, forums, comments. One of the commercial forerunners of UGC reviews is TripAdvisor. But with experts starting to question the site’s future, is there still a place for user reviews? And if there is, should non-profit-making organisations be harnessing this ... more

3 September 2012

Shock no more?

A new report from the Advertising Standards Authority is making waves for fundraising and advocacy campaigners, forcing us to re-examine the way we connect with the public, but what do its conclusions really mean and how best can we respond? The key line of the report which has charities most worried, states that many of ... more

28 August 2012

Does Race for Life have a Shelf Life?

I’ve run (okay, jogged and sometimes walked) the Race for Life on numerous occasions. Cancer Research UK, in collaboration with Tesco, has made it to the grand status of the UK’s largest women-only fundraising event. Not bad for an event that started out with a few hundred people in Battersea Park in 1994. Undoubtedly you ... more

24 July 2012

A charity’s biggest asset: passion

The subject of this week’s Cass CCE charity talk was what makes a leader caring but effective? The debate covered everything from the role of sharing cakes, knowing when to delegate and when to meddle, to a story about chickens. Both the panel and audience agreed that there is no single approach to effective leadership ... more

12 July 2012

Campaign to End Loneliness launches online toolkit targeted at health and wellbeing boards

The idea that older people often suffer from loneliness is not exactly new, but the extent and impact of this problem is rarely discussed. This makes today’s launch of the new online tool kit designed by Forster for Campaign to End Loneliness all the more important. The charity coalition group highlighted that 8-10% of older ... more

9 July 2012
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Video view from the Great British Care Show

I recently visited the Great British Care Show to gain insight into issues and innovations in the sector. Click here to watch a video about the day.   more

20 June 2012

The self esteem network

To be 15 in 2012 is an unimaginably different experience to being 15 in 2004. Facebook was merely embryonic, Twitter didn’t even exist, and while many people had a mobile, smartphone wasn’t yet a word. The prevalence of social networks means young people are more connected, and more exposed, to their peers than ever before. ... more

18 June 2012


For those who haven’t noticed, November is no longer just the month for brandishing sparklers and premature Christmas shopping. It has now evolved into ‘Movember’ – an annual effort during which men (and some women) unite for the sake of a good cause and facial hair goes global. more

30 May 2012

Mental Health Awareness Week

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and it is interesting to see that mental wellbeing is the theme. The Mental Health Foundation is encouraging the public to do a good deed to feel good.  We have come a long way from the days of ‘mental health’ meaning ill health. And mental ill health being ... more

23 May 2012

Another way to tackle the care crisis?

A white paper on care is due out shortly and it’s almost a year since the Dilnot report on reforming care funding. So it’s remarkable that the government seems no closer to reaching a way forward on the pressing issue of how we pay for better care for our ageing population. Yet without urgent action ... more

14 May 2012
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Outrage isn’t enough

Children’s charity Barnardo’s approached us in late 2010 with a brief to develop the messaging and creative for a campaign that they wanted to launch around the crime of child sexual exploitation. As a team we were challenged. Personally, some of the team found the issues really difficult to confront, those of us with teenage ... more

9 May 2012

New carers charity brand unveiled

Carers Trust, the new charity formed by the merger of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care, unveiled its new brand this week which was developed with Forster since November. Carers Trust provides support, information, advice and services for the millions of people caring at home for a family member or friend.  We ... more

27 April 2012

Campaigning lessons from ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’

When the second series of ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ returned to our screens in February it was accompanied by a high profile advertising campaign, unfortunately that profile was raised for all the wrong reasons. The posters, showing images of members of the travelling community with the words ‘Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier’ over them, were quickly ... more

18 April 2012

Work is good for you

Disability and work has been a theme this week.  I heard Chris Grayling outline his vision for supporting people with long term health conditions back into work, alongside progressive employers like BT who have helped hundreds with chronic conditions stay employed. But it wasn’t by accident that the conference was held at KPMG; the business ... more