By UTalkMarketing Editor, Clark Turner.
Big marketing spend can deliver big results, but not all marketers are in such a privileged position.
Clever marketing can still make an impact and a UK anti-gang and violence charity is testament to that after winning the Overall Winner accolade at the Charity Awards 2009.
Leap Confronting Conflict supports and trains over 1,300 young volunteers who mentor fellow young people involved in gangs and violence through its PeerLink project.
It started in 1991, when the charity noticed a small number of young people were involved in conflict resolution in pockets across the country, but found they were largely isolated and that the work was poorly supported locally.
Today a steering group of around 30 to 40 young people across three regions meet regularly to review the project and plan events around the country. In 2008 they gave over 4,000 hours of voluntary time.
“The recession has hit the sector hard. Whenever we talk to local authorities, they tell us they will be making cuts over the next four years” chief executive, Jennifer Rogers told UTalkMarketing
“It’s making the competition for grants, donations, fundraising and commissions all the greater.”
The charity has no ATL budget so has to rely on other means to secure buy in from both financial backers and volunteers.
Volunteers are recruited via partners and networks including local youth groups, local councils, schools, sports groups and housing workers, using training and public speaking opportunities to drive awareness.
As one might hope, Leap Confronting Conflict is also waking up to opportunities online.
“We’ve upgraded our website and become more sophisticated in our analysis to determine the most popular pages. We now know the gun crime and knife crime information is looked at most,” said Rogers.
“We’re also directly targeting our efforts around commissioning bodies who help with funding, looking at specific geographic regions and making direct approaches.”
She continued, “Our volunteers are our greatest ambassadors and we make sure we involve them in events and masterclasses to showcase our work. The face-to-face approach works very well for us.”
The charity has seen some significant successes on the back of its efforts. Evaluation has shown a 49% reduction of violence in Glasgow and 53% in Enfield.
These case studies are acting as a valuable PR tool as Leap Confronting Conflict becomes more proactive in communicating its story. They are also being used in official publications as the charity invests in higher quality production.
“To be honest, we didn’t really understand the value of marketing and communications,” admitted Rogers. But we do now and are investing heavily.”
The charity’s PeerLink project, which aims to address mediation and conflict resolution is also active on Facebook and Twitter, driven by members with plans to expand social media activity.
Getting buy-in from volunteers for free is no easy task for any charity, but for Leap Confronting Conflict the key is in close community ties and its goal of making a difference.
Some volunteers have gone onto to become paid workers and trainers, but the young staff ensure the charity keeps ‘in touch’ enabling it to reach out to the local community.
“We’re putting our money where our mouth is by championing the good work of young people, but at the heart of it is personal development,” said Rogers.
“Once those involved realise this and their lives have been changed, they want to help change others.”
As a consequence, more than 50% of volunteers join on the back of word of mouth marketing – a channel the charity is trying to capitalise on and drive and multiplying cascade effect.
So how can the charity really determine the impact of its work?
The process starts with a ‘conflict audit’ looking at the wheres, whys and when of conflict in a community. Analysis provides a base line measurement.
Some 12 months later after the programme has been operating the situation is reassessed – with hopefully some improvement identified.
“Feedback has included schools telling us there has been a change in culture, with staff and pupils working together where once there was real conflict,” said Rogers.
“Teachers are freed from conflict so they can spend more time teaching.”
And that has to be a result in anyone’s books.
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