Impact Business Advisors

Impact Business Advisors and the Startup Surgery

The newest member of the family – Impact Business Advisors – is the result of wanting to offer our services that will bring tremendous benefit to the business community.

I am immensely proud of the expertise that the Impact group has in-house, and the skills that we have offered to charities, voluntary organisations, social enterprises, and schools alike. Many of these skills are highly valuable in the world of business also – and it is our intention to throw open the door and allow businesses to reap the benefits of our services.

What business services are on offer?

We are rolling the services out gradually; at present, we are offering packages in:

However, over the coming weeks, we are releasing services in the following areas:

  • General Marketing – strategy and delivery
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Management
  • Google Plus Training and Management
  • SEO and Authority Building
  • Vision and Ethos Setting

And many more still to come – if you want to know more, suggest some areas, or would like to book a package, get in touch and let’s grab a coffee!

You mentioned a Startup Surgery?

Knutsford Startup Surgery

Now, you may not be aware, but we started a monthly co-working event in Knutsford this year called Knutsford Jelly. It’s an informal place for freelancers, homeworkers, and business owners to get together and work from a different environment for the day. We’ve met some incredible people along the way, and have been thinking hard about how we can develop the model to help even more businesses grow – and we think we’ve nailed it.

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce the first ever Knutsford Startup Surgery – a completely free set of workshops for new and potential new businesses, where industry experts will deliver short presentations on absolutely vital topics for businesses. The first session takes place on November 26th, from 13.00 – 14.00, at a fantastic venue: Studio@Knutsford. We’re delivering this with our good friend and business partner at Tax Matters Accountants, Mike Braun.

Don’t miss out – places are limited. Book now to secure your free place!

 

 

Impact Education Support

Social Media Training for Schools

We are delighted to launch the newest member of the Impact family – Impact Education Support!

As market forces become more important in education, IES is here to help schools get ahead with cutting-edge marketing. IES is a team of education and marketing specialists, who can help schools employ leading-edge effective marketing, getting them ahead of the competition and winning more students.

The team are busy preparing a whole range of training topics specially designed for the UK Education Sector. The first of these, a range of three courses on Social Media (focusing on Twitter), are now available to book from the IES website.

Spread the word – it’s time for a revolution in school marketing!

Social Enterprise

Improve your Social Enterprise marketing in one easy step

The marketing challenge for Social Enterprise

Unlike traditional charities, social enterprises remain a bit of a mystery to most. While it is easy to understand the role a charity holds, as well as how it is funded – and what it does with its money – the same can’t generally be said for the social enterprise sector. Most are confused about the difference between a social enterprise and a business that does work with a social element.

This lack of understanding leads to a number of issues for social enterprises – not least of which is how to make their message clear, and help potential customers understand the organisation they are dealing with. Chances are, if someone doesn’t understand what you’re about, they’re less likely to engage with your organisation. This can lead to lost sales, missed leads, and poor results.

This comes down to a challenge of communication; you need to explain not just what you do, but why you do it – and the impact it has.

The first step to change

To grow a successful social enterprise, you need to start with clear messaging. This should include the impact of your social and charitable activities – your organisation needs to be take every opportunity to show the great work you do; that every pound spent with you results in a social impact elsewhere.

We wrote about the power of articulating why you exist on our sister site earlier in the year – it’s as true for social enterprises, as it is for charities and businesses. There is a real benefit in creating a strand of your marketing activity specifically dedicated to these messages – and looking for every opportunity to cross-promote your social marketing with your business marketing. This leads to increased sales, more leads, and brilliant results!

Include your social messaging in your standard analytics – look for which messages trigger the greatest response – then adapt, measure, and repeat.

The way we work

We offer a full set of services to help social enterprises succeed – get in touch now if we can help you with:

  • defining your Social Enterprise’s messages
  • creating a marketing and communications plan
  • measuring your social impact
  • understanding the impact of your marketing

For more free tips and guides for your social enterprise, sign up to our mailing list now!

Manchester Dogs Home

What the Manchester Dogs’ Home fire can teach us about charity campaigning

When Manchester Dogs’ Home was gutted by fire last week, it prompted an overwhelming outpouring of public support. Over £1.4 million was donated in the first 36 hours alone, thanks to ongoing coverage in the Manchester Evening News. Others donated blankets, dog food, toys, bedding, and offers of foster homes and adoptions for the dogs that survived.

As with all high-profile events and charitable appeals, there is an initial rush to help. The immediacy of the tragedy prompts a rapid emotional response to the situation – and people dig deep, and go to extraordinary lengths to offer their help. In the days following the fire, the M6 became gridlocked as many flocked to Cheshire Dogs’ Home to drop off donations and supplies. The beautiful side of human nature was on display for all to see.

The backlash

However, once this initial enthusiasm subsides, a darker tone emerges – mainly on social media. After the shock comes the backlash; many question why so much was donated to this cause, while other charities and events go relatively ignored. Others will chime in with their opinions on how the money should be spent, and find cause to complain about what it is eventually used for. Some will spread lies and misinformation, and others will work hard to create vile jokes about the events.

This isn’t a unique pattern – this occurs with every highly publicised charitable cause. It happened with #nomakeupselfie. It happened with Stephen Sutton’s campaign. It happened with the Ice Bucket Challenge, and it will happen with the Manchester Dogs’ Home fire. It’s a natural progression from empathy to cynicism ingrained in our culture – and it’s deeply unpleasant.

Even though I understand it, and expect it, I always hate it.

The REAL scars

The tragedy also had a very personal edge; a few years ago, we adopted our Zeus from Manchester Dogs’ Home. He was abandoned on the streets of Manchester, for reasons we do not know and likely never will. He is one of the greatest companions I could ever wish for – although it is hard to separate the joy of owning him from the sadness of his former situation.

I will never forget the range of emotions I experienced the first time I visited the Home. I’m a dog person through and through – the sight of so many abandoned and unwanted dogs tied a knot deep in my stomach. The staff at the home were, and still are, incredible – not only in their dedication to the work, but in the sheer strength of character and emotion that is an absolutely essential part of the job. Zeus absolutely loves the staff from the Home, as has been clear every time we’ve revisited – and more importantly, they absolutely loved him too, as they do all the dogs in their care.

The money donated can help rebuild the Home. It can help provide the best care for the dogs. The publicity may even help to stem the problem of abandoned dogs, or encourage more to adopt.

But it’s unlikely to heal the wounds of those who worked through the night to rescue, treat, and accommodate the survivors. Nor of those who first entered the scene. Nor those who watched their hard work, dedication, and love destroyed in a matter of hours. Certainly not of those who cared for and loved the dogs that were lost. These are the scars that stay.

Remember them when the cynicism begins.

While you’re here, why not donate to Manchester Dogs’ Home, or join our mailing list.

Facebook Likes

Have YOU ever asked for Facebook likes?

The ever brilliant Jon Loomer posted a fantastic explanation about the demise of Facebook like-gating. No longer can you offer ‘incentives’ in return for liking your page.

Understandably, many have reacted with horror at the new changes, hidden away at the bottom of their updated API announcement. But the question does need to be asked – has like-gating ever produced a genuinely meaningful and engaged set of fans?

The never-ending Facebook quest

For charities in particular, a quest for Facebook likes can be a never-ending task. We often work with organisations that are on the relentless hunt for more reach – reasoning that this means ‘greater publicity’ for the cause.

 

And it’s an attractive idea – Facebook likes are a straightforward and simple metric. They don’t take any effort to produce, and they can be plotted on a graph, showing how well we’re growing (or not…). They must mean we’re doing something right, mustn’t they?

Ultimately, however, it boils down to this point:

Facebook likes are meaningless, unless they produce results

What should we measure instead?

Facebook LikesInstead of tracking how many likes you have gained, instead ask how much of your income was generated from Facebook content. Ask every sign-up to your mailing list how they heard about you – was it Facebook? Ask your volunteers why they spend their time helping you – was it because they heard about you on Facebook?

Bear these questions in mind next time someone asks how many likes you have – or the next time someone tries to sell you a service to gain more likes.

There are many fantastic things Facebook can help you achieve – are you sure you’re using it in the most productive way?

How can you help us?

We can help with this – drop us a message. From a full social media audit, to a simple workshop on getting the most out of Facebook, we’ll work with you to make you the best you can be.

And I promise – we’ll never, ever, offer to sell you more likes.

Innovation

Innovation can change lives…

Let’s be honest – much of the charity sector is stuck in a rut. Innovation tends to be rare – unknown and expensive.

We do the same things we’ve always done. Fundraise in the same way. Write letters. Submit bids from templates. Rattle tins. Work ourselves into the ground.

Then times get tough, and we find ourselves in need of more money – more volunteers – more help.

So we redouble our efforts, and we work even harder – doing the same things we’ve always done. But with longer nights, less energy, more worry, and mixed results.

It’s time to stop.

What’s the answer?

What our sector needs now is large-scale innovation. Massive disruption. To lead the way with tech, rather than chase behind.

Let’s get our heads together and come up with some ideas. Sign up below, and we’ll invite you to an online innovation brainstorming session.

Help make innovation happen – sign up now.

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Stockport Metro

Incredible Sponsorship Opportunity – Stockport Metro

We’re thrilled to be helping businesses increase their profile by sponsoring Stockport Metro – a local swimming club with a truly national and international reach.

Stockport Metro has helped produce some of the UK’s finest names in swimming: James Goddard; Keri-Anne Payne; and Stephen Parry – to name just a few. Not only is the club very popular in the Stockport and Greater Manchester communities, but it is also incredibly well respected in national and international arenas, having trained competitors for Olympic and Commonwealth games.

Stockport Metro-  Where Champions Grow

While Stockport Metro are looking for sponsorship, there is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to benefit from associating themselves with such a well-respected and successful organisation.

If you want to grow your business, increase your profile, and support a local club of homegrown excellence, then ask us how you can get involved – sponsorship packages are available for all budget levels!

Don’t miss out – this is a golden opportunity!

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Stockport Metro Champions Profile

a perfect storm?

Why we support Oxfam’s #PerfectStorm campaign

One of the greatest challenges for aid workers, humanitarians, and charities, is the requirement to stay politically impartial while carrying out their work.

In recent years, we have learnt about the incredible difficulties that aid agencies – such as Médecins Sans Frontières – face when attempting to remain neutral while ensuring they negotiate access to deliver humanitarian aid.

It’s an ongoing challenge, and sometimes there are no satisfactory solutions. The only way through is to judge each situation on its merits – and attempt to tackle the issues, while trying to avoid the politics. However, even this is often impossible.

Yesterday, Oxfam – one of the UK’s greatest charitable institutions – brought this debate closer to home, with the publication of their Perfect Storm policy paper (available here). The paper talks of rising levels of poverty in the UK, of unfair social structures, and of factors that have contributed to ever increasing hardship for British people.

Some of these issues are by their very nature political – does this mean that Oxfam shouldn’t speak out?

One man who may believe this is the Conservative MP Conor Burns, who contacted the Charity Commission and asked that they investigate Oxfam’s ‘highly political advertising’:

We disagree.

We would argue that it is entirely possible for a charity such as Oxfam to focus on  issues, even when they are policital, without focusing on the politicians or political parties.

Oxfam are not apportioning blame to any one political party. In fact, Ben Phillips (Campaigns & Policy Director at Oxfam GB) stated in a BBC article (emphases ours) that:

“Fighting poverty should not be a party political issue. Successive governments have presided over a tide of rising inequality and created a situation where food banks and other providers provided 20 million meals last year to people who could not afford to feed themselves.This is an unacceptable situation in one of the world’s largest economies and politicians of all stripes have a responsibility to tackle it.

We fully support Oxfam in their work highlighting rising poverty and hardship in the UK.

We believe that they have focused on the issues – in a mature and honest way – and have not attacked or supported any UK political party.

We believe that Conor Burns MP’s response is disappointing, but hope that it has triggered The Streisand Effect – giving rise to greater awareness of the issues.

What do you think? Were Oxfam right or wrong to publish this report? Do you think they should be involved in UK poverty issues? Let us know below.

Join the Revolution

Join the ‘Impact Bank’ revolution

Here’s an idea.

What if every charity openly published their impact tools and reports online regularly?

We’re talking full disclosure – not just of impact assessment results, but of what you measured, how, and why – with a set of minimum standards to encourage quality information.

I know, I know – doesn’t sound life changing yet, does it? But think about it.

Every charity, publishing their methods, every year. To a minimum set of standards. Encouraging open discussion between charities in the same field – allowing true comparisons to be made.

Letting charities judge the effectiveness of their work – not only by what they’ve done before, but by what other similar charities have done and are doing. Learning from each other – and together making the sector more productive, more efficient, making us better at what we do.

Over time, similar charities will start to use the same metrics and methods as each other – the gold standard of impact assessment.

Donors and grant institutions will start to use this data, giving them a greater understanding of what works and what doesn’t. An understanding that is led by the charities themselves, and not imposed from the top at donor level.

We think this idea has legs.

That’s why we’re starting a revolution. The ‘Impact Bank’ revolution.

Charities who become a member of the Impact Bank agree to publish their impact info on their website, and make it freely available to all. Members receive an Impact Bank badge to proudly display on their sites, and encourage others to join the movement.

Impact Bank

Do you want to be part of the revolution?

Get in touch below, or email us now. Let’s start making things better.

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Google

Google offering £3.2m to UK charities for tech innovation

Google are running their Google Impact Challenge for UK charities again this year, with awards of up to £500,000 available for those showing how tech innovation can transform lives.

Successful charities will be given the chance to see their ideas become a reality, recieving both grant funding and technical assistance from Google.

The deadline is the 6th June this year.

Apply now!