It’s a tale as old as time – something happens to you or a loved one, which then inspires you to set up a charity that can help others experiencing the same thing.

The point is every charity starts with a story. But telling and sharing stories can become less and less of a priority when you are a small organisation that is just concentrating your efforts into staying afloat.

And while an emotional appeal can be effective, so is keeping your supporters engaged throughout your journey and showing them not just what and how you do things, but also why.

So whether you have been hired to write stories on behalf of a charity, or you are part of a leadership board that is desperate to get stories of your beneficiaries out there, here ten practical tips you can follow.

1   Develop a culture of storytelling within your charity

This won’t happen overnight, so start small…

  • Find allies within your charity.
  • Encourage others to celebrate success – what’s in it for other teams in your organisation? It gives them social currency and makes them look good.
  • If you are a writer, involve yourself with different teams, go to team meetings, gather useful information and most of all make yourself known.
  • Host storytelling summits/workshops where people can share updates on their projects.

2   Put processes in place

A good idea can’t work if it isn’t supported with the right processes. If you want people to approach you with stories, outline what a good story would look like. Ask people for visual queues as well, including photos and videos.

If you have stories already, you can set up a focus group or carry out an audit to see which stories are effective and which ones you should tell less of.

3   Get buy-in from your CEO and board

The importance of storytelling is a message that needs to come from the top down. This can start from simply encouraging your leaders to tweet from the industry events they go to.

You could also gather data (Google Analytics for instance) on how well your stories are doing on your web page/social media and show your CEO and board just how much impact you can make with words.

4   One size doesn’t fit all

Where appropriate, start with a blank slate with your content. Listen to the story first, and then think about the best format for it. The same format cannot work for every story.

5   Telling stories isn’t just about case studies…

You don’t have to just stay in the comfort zone of case studies when you are telling stories. Ask your beneficiaries to takeover your social media channels, and inspire them to take part in user-generated content. Be creative.

6   Think creatively around anonymity

For charities that start from a point of keeping their beneficiaries safe and anonymous, it can be tough finding ways to shout about the good work you do in supporting them.

But there are ways around it; for instance, if you are a youth charity or one dealing with vulnerable people, you can encourage beneficiaries to share works of art like poetry, spoken word, etc. It will show personality and variety.

7   Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Easier said than done. But mistakes do happen, (or you might not get the results you anticipate straight away), and what can soften the blow is knowing you have the support of colleagues and other teams who are aware of what you are trying to achieve.

Protect yourself by spreading the word around your organisation (see tip number one about finding allies).

8   Remember, your staff are also your audience

Make use of the intranet and internal newsletters to update and inspire your staff. This will make them feel part of something bigger and can also encourage them to share those stories with their networks.

9   Have story champions across your organisation

If you have people that share your vision of telling stories, you can foster those relationships and encourage them to fight your corner.

10   Take care of your storytellers

If you are speaking directly with a beneficiary, make sure your subject is ready to tell their story. Then, share the content with them first and make sure they are comfortable with what is being published and where.

Shock, tears, laughter – it all serves a purpose

Whether it’s an event that turns your life upside down, a long journey with illness, or seeing a family member or a close friend go through something that you desperately want to help with – there is always a catalyst that leads to an action, and your stories can serve that purpose.

After all, a good story can shock you, make you cry, make you laugh. Every single charity has used a story to put down roots, so why not help those roots grow?


Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving, a day to do something for charities. You can give your time, give some money, donate something, buy something, or campaign for something. Giving Tuesday is one day to make a world of difference and we’re asking you to do something!

If you haven’t already got your Giving Tuesday ‘something’ planned, here are 10 last minute ideas to help you make a difference! Don’t forget to share your ‘something’ on social media and use the #GivingTuesday hashtag.


1. Browse wish lists. Lots of charities create wish lists on online shopping portals or on their own website, for items that they need. ‘Tis the season – buy something for a charity.

2. Support your favourite charity or discover a new charity. Find out what your favourite charity or newly discovered charity is doing for Giving Tuesday, get in touch with them to see how you can support them. You can search charities by area and cause on the Charity Commission website.

3. Shop more. There are lots of online shopping portals that make a donation to charity with every purchase, like Giving Tuesday partner Give As You Live. There are alternative portals listed here.

4. Buy some food. Contact your local foodbank and ask if they are running low on particular items, pick it up the next time you are out doing your food shopping and drop it off at the foodbank.

5. Find a campaign and write to your MP. Lots of charities need your support in raising the profile of issues that face their service users. It only takes a few minutes.

6. Give some money. Make a donation to your favourite charity. Even better, make a regular donation by setting up payroll giving through Give As You Earn or a direct debit.

7. Charity Christmas cards. Buy your Christmas cards from a charity shop this year, or donate the cost of the cards and postage to the charity instead. Remember to let all your friends and family know via text message if you’re not sending cards this year – you don’t want to disappoint Aunt Molly!

8. Give a charity gift. Give a charity gift this year as a present, it can be anything from seeds & tools, a school pack, a kitchen starter pack, to a village well! Lots of charities such Concern, Trócaire and Save the Children have lots of charity gifts to chose from.

9. Buy Fairtrade. Buy a gift that directly supports people in need. Lots of charities and retailers offer fairtrade items for sale, this can be anything from jewellery, food, children’s toys to homeware items.

10. Talk about Giving Tuesday. Tell your family and friends about Giving Tuesday, challenge them to do something on the day. Together we can make a world of difference. #GivingTuesday


With just over two months to go until Giving Tuesday, our video highlights just how many ways you can give back to the causes you love by volunteering, campaigning, donating… the list goes on! The video also demonstrates the range of causes that benefit from your support on Giving Tuesday and just how easy it is to support them.

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving, led in the UK by CAF, and follows the frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, encouraging individuals and organisations to do good for the causes they support. Giving Tuesday spans the globe, with over 40 countries taking part in the campaign, which this year falls on the 27th November.

Giving Tuesday consistently breaks the world record of the highest amount of donations given in 24 hours, demonstrating the impact the campaign has as the one day to make a world of difference.

Share the good news!

We would love it if you could share the video on your social media channels using the hashtag #GivingTuesday to create a buzz around the campaign in the run up to 27th November.

It’s not too late for your organisation to get involved with Giving Tuesday by signing up as a partner organisation. As ever, if you need any help in developing your Giving Tuesday plans, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at

Become a partner today

12 charities talk about how they benefited from Shoosmiths’ silent auction

Each year, Shoosmiths launches its annual ‘Promises and Presents’ silent auction on #givingtuesday, this year supporting 12 charity partners by holding an auction of 250 donated gifts. Items up for auction included items that demonstrated the work of their charity partners, including; mental health at work training and wellbeing sessions by Northampton and District Mind, knitted hats, gloves, blankets and thermal mugs donated by homelessness charities Mustard Tree and Launchpad, books and reports about the efforts of Nottingham Women’s Centre and the Society of St. James, a refurbished computer from Jamie’s Computers programme, and a refurbished bike from Recycle Bikes project.

Each charity received £2,000 from staff fundraising efforts and a Shoosmiths firm donation, which also helped to raise awareness across the offices about the work of their local charity partners. Each of the charities reported back on how #givingtuesday makes a difference and we wanted to share their accounts here:

  • Alzheimer Scotland: “Alzheimer Scotland support people with dementia in Scotland, to make sure nobody faces dementia alone. This charity auction can really make a difference to us, for example each £96 raised will fund a day of vital support from a local Dementia Advisor and £1,138 will fund a month of our ‘Memory Bus’ which provides information to some of the most rural parts of Scotland.”
  • Ben’s Heroes Trust: “We would like to thank Shoosmiths for making Ben’s Heroes Trust one of the recipients of their silent auction. £900 supports a family of a child with cancer to access new treatments or drugs not available on the NHS, such as Proton Beam Therapy in America. We are extremely grateful to all the employees getting involved, their support will enable us to help more of our little heroes.”
  • Birmingham St. Mary’s Hospice: “At Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, our mission is to ensure the best hospice care is available for all individuals, families and carers across our community, wherever and whenever they need it. A donation from Shoosmiths’ charity auction could  pay for 4 people to spend time in our Day Hospice and receive emotional, spiritual and social support which costs in the region of £1,200.”
  • Launchpad: “On average, it costs around £1,000 to help a Launchpad client move into education, training or a pathway into employment. This auction money raised will be changing someone’s path and offering them a second chance in life again.”
  • Leukaemia and Lymphoma NI: “Three people in Northern Ireland are diagnosed with blood cancer every day, making it the 5th most common cancer in the UK by diagnosis and the third biggest cancer killer. This frightening statistic is a stark reminder that although research has come a long way, the outcome for many blood cancer patients remains poor. Leukaemia and Lymphoma NI operate with the main objective of improving survival rates for blood cancers by supporting the scientists and students researching these diseases in Northern Ireland. The money raised by Shoosmiths will enable us to help fund the blood cancer research group based at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell biology at Queen’s University Belfast where they are working on projects to identify, target and eliminate the abnormalities that cause blood cancer.”
  • Martin House: “The Shoosmiths Charity auction could make a real difference to our children, young people and their families that we support. £100 could pay for a member of our community team to offer practical and emotional support in a families own home over the festive period. £1,000 could pay for an in-house pantomime for our families to enjoy together. In our 30th year, we have supported over 420 children and young people, and their families plus 150 bereaved families across West, North and East Yorkshire, both at our hospice and in families’ own homes and with your continued support we will be able to help even more families over the years to come.”
  • Milton Keynes Community Foundation: “This funding will make an enormous difference to the amount of support we are able to provide to community groups. This means we will be adding this to the Shoosmiths Fund, which you hold with us to support projects that encourage community cohesion and those with disabilities or special needs.”
  • Mustard Tree: “We are truly appreciative of your support; we rely heavily on donations and fundraising to help support people experiencing poverty and homelessness. Partnering with businesses is essential to what we do and our on-going relationship is a huge part of allowing our services to continue. £500 allows us to provide counselling for 20 people on our Freedom Project, £200 means we can provide hot meals for 100 people at our weekly soup kitchen, £1000 allows us to provide a full customer services training course for 10 individuals, £5,000 allows us to run our Food Club for 6 months which provides 9,882 meals for 2470 people. Your support is so appreciated by all of us here at Mustard Tree.”
  • Northampton and District Mind: “With a £1000 donation from the charity auction  we could provide:
    • 52 Peer Support Group sessions. People with long term mental health problems often become isolated from friends, family and their communities; the Peer Support Group gives people opportunity to mutually support each other and develop friendships in a supportive environment.
    • 10 self-management courses. Northampton and District Mind runs a series of 6 week psycho-educational courses on such topics as Dealing with Anger, Look after Your Mood and Mindfulness. We also run sessions on more practical things such as budgeting and cooking.
    • 60 social inclusion activities in the evening or at weekends. People with mental health problems often do not take part in community activities and make use of community facilities as much as the general population, Northampton and District Mind runs sessions to introduce people to the facilities of their communities.
    • 53 1-2-1 support sessions. We run sessions for people who want support to change their lives, providing practical support.”
  • Nottingham Women’s Centre: “A big thank you to all at Shoosmiths for including us as a partner in your silent auction for #givingtuesday. The money raised will make such a difference to women in Nottingham. We will be using the money in the following ways: £1,000 would reprint our misogyny as a hate crime leaflets to remind women that the Police in Notts will listen to them, believe them and take action against misogynistic behaviour. £1,000 for materials for our Crafty Club – a social group for women, most of whom have mental health problems. Having something to belong to has reduced their social isolation and enabled them to make lasting relationships.”
  • ReachOut: “We are absolutely thrilled to be partnered with Shoosmiths this year and to be a beneficiary charity of your annual silent auction for #givingtuesday.  All funds raised will go directly towards providing over 850 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with one-to-one mentoring to help them improve their academic attainment, build their character and increase their confidence.  By providing this individual support we can help them to go on and fulfil their potential, but we wouldn’t be able to do it without your amazing support. Please keep bidding and from everyone at ReachOut – thank you!”
  • Society of St. James: “We provide housing and support to help vulnerable people, who may also have substance and alcohol use problems and mental health problems, to get off the streets into a safe, permanent home. We believe everyone deserves not just a second chance, or a third chance, but as many chances as they need to change their lives for the better. Our current fundraising activities are to help fund the purchase of another house so that we can provide more long-term, safe accommodation to vulnerable people who have experienced homelessness and will struggle to find their own accommodation. All money received from Shoosmiths will be put towards our capital appeal.”

Shoosmiths and their 12 charity partners’ activity for #givingtuesday is an inspiring story of how the day helps make an impact. In the words of one of Shoosmiths’ many colleagues who made bids during the auction “It is great to be able to support all of the good causes.”

A former student at Lincoln College, Oxford, was inspired to match funds raised by his alma mater as part of #givingtuesday, the global day of giving.

After seeing a tweet by Bill Gates and reading an email appeal sent by the College, Jason Chang committed to match donations given between #givingtuesday 28 November and 3 December up to the value of $25k (£18,686).

More than £50,000 ($66,880) in total was raised which will be used to offer financial assistance to undergraduate and postgraduate students in the form of help with living costs and travel expenses.

Lincoln College was founded by Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln, in 1427 and named after his Cathedral as The College of Blessed Mary and All Saints, Lincoln, in the University of Oxford. Famous alumni include Theodore Geisel, better known as children’s author Dr Seuss, and David Cornwell also known as successful spy writer John Le Carré.

#givingtuesday originated in the US in 2012 and now takes place in over 70 countries around the world including Canada, Germany, Spain, Singapore, Australia, Tanzania, Russia and Israel. It has been celebrated in the UK since 2014. The event encourages people to make a donation, volunteer their time or support their favourite cause on social media. This year over 2,000 individuals, organisations and businesses took part generating millions of pounds for good causes.

After completing his degree in 2009 Jason Chang became Chief Operating Officer of CSBio, a leading peptide manufacturing company located on the edge of Silicon Valley in Menio Park, California. On a trip to London for a friend’s wedding he learned about #givingtuesday.

“I was inspired to take part in #givingtuesday after seeing a tweet about Bill and Melinda Gates’ involvement’” he said.

“Having studied at Lincoln College, this global day of giving seemed like a perfect opportunity to give something back and encourage others to do the same.”

“I am so pleased with the amount raised by the initiative and that Lincoln College will be using the funds to provide assistance to students currently studying at the University of Oxford.”

Read our top tips for planning your activity for #givingtuesday

#givingtuesday is getting closer, and as July rolls into August now is the time that you need to start thinking about your plans for #givingtuesday. 

With over 1,600 partners taking part in #givingtuesday we know that the day is going to be a busy one. That means, that if you’re going to get the most out of the day then it’s absolutely vital that you start to think about what you want to achieve, and the best way to do that.

So take a look at our 5 top tips to help kick start your planning for #givingtuesday 2017:

Start by establishing your objective(s). It’s all too easy to see #givingtuesday happening and jump right in, but what’s the point if you don’t know what you want to achieve? You should start to think now about what you want to get out of the day, and consider your options for the best route to achieving that. Once you’ve established your objectives you’re ready to go!

Our second tip is start planning early. #givingtuesday is just one day, but if you’re going to make the most of the day the likelihood is you’ll want to do lots of stuff like emailing stakeholders, sending out press releases, making a poster, sharing stuff on social media. All of this stuff will need designing, creating, scheduling – so get ahead of the game and do it now. You can always tweak things later.

Make the most of free stuff. The #givingtuesday campaign, powered by CAF, gives partners a whole host of free resources to use (and there’s more on the way). You can download the #givingtuesday logo and use it on stuff, or you can re-watch a whole host of webinars on everything from using social media to creating winning charity emails. If you’re a charity take a look here or a business visit here.

Think about teaming up with someone else. There are loads of people out there doing stuff for #givingtuesday. If you’re stuck for an idea why not think about joining forces with someone else and making double the impact? For inspiration have a look at this case study from 2016 where an estate agent teamed up with a children’s hospice with amazing results.

Tell us what you’re doing. There’s a whole team of us here at CAF HQ dedicated to running #givingtuesday and making the day an amazing experience for you. If you’re stuck for ideas or want a bit of extra support then get in touch. Or if you’ve already started planning the day then be sure to tell us what you’re up to (use the ‘submit your story form at the bottom of this page) and our press team and social media team will help you spread the word.

Kim Roberts is Senior Campaigns Officer at Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and works on the #givingtuesday campaign in the UK. 

How do you teach your children the importance of charity work?

Help build a foundation of charitable giving for your children and show them that their actions, no matter how small, can make a real difference.

If doing good stuff is important to you, you probably want to share your passion with your family. Here are some easy ways to teach your children about charity:

Show them that they already do it. Smiling at someone on the street, holding doors open for people who need a hand or visiting a sick relative is still charity because it warms someone’s heart. Most children already do these things, but they will be pleased to learn that they’re helping out.

Let them choose their own causes. Suggest some causes to your child and let them choose one that matters to them. They’re more likely to want to support a cause that they know about and identify with. Be sensitive to their age and introduce causes that match their interests. Children’s hospitals where they can donate old toys or local farms where they can play with the animals and donate money often work well for children. You can also Use CAF’s Charity Search to help find a charity that is local to you and matches their chosen cause. CAF allows you to search for any charity online and make a donation straight from their site.

Make it a family affair. Lead by example and let them see you drop money into charity boxes, ask them to help you pick out canned foods during a food drive or take them along when you participate in fundraising events. It gives you an opportunity to discuss why it’s important to give and how rewarding it can be.

You can also create family traditions by giving to the same cause every year during the holidays or setting up a charity box at home which the whole family can contribute to, then decide together how to use the money.

Teach them the value of time. With limited financial means it can be hard for children to donate money. Use this as a chance to teach them that they have a much more valuable resource than cash – they have time, which can be just as powerful. Encourage them to help neighbours with small jobs and if they are older, help them to volunteer at local clubs, hospitals and take part in charitable events at school.

Celebrate. When your children give, tell them that you’re proud of them. Show them pictures and thank you notes from the places they have helped, so they can see the impact and feel appreciated for their contributions.

P.S. Why not get your childrens’ creative juices flowing and set them one of these challenges:

  • Random act of kindness: Get the whole family involved and reward the most creative person with a non-financial treat, such as their favourite dinner.
  • Pay it forward: Ask your children to do something nice for three other people each time someone does something nice for them, and teach them to share the joy of receiving
  • #givingtuesday: why not get them to plan something special for the whole family to celebrate this year’s #givingtuesday!

Louise Paul is Internal Communications Manager at Charities Aid Foundation, the organisation that brings you #givingtuesday