Mencap – the voice of learning disability
Mencap is a charity for people with learning disabilities. They have a number of activities and partners. This brief was for the Make it with me/Bake it with me projects, which were launched recently but are not pulling the projected number of likes or followers on Facebook or Twitter. The client wanted ideas on how to improve these, with an eye to making the sites eventually commercially viable.
Make it with me focuses on crafts, encouraging people to get together with friends or family and make crafts, then donate money to Mencap. The site also allows people to download project cards. The Bake it with me site encourages people to bake something and then donate. This site has recipe cards. Both sites are fully stocked with content, professionally designed and thorough. They both have gallery sections where those that participate can upload their projects/cakes. They also both have companion Facebook sites and Twitter feeds.
Overall, the team assessed the projects as excellent, well thought through and well designed ideas. Most importantly, they tapped into the current trends and allowed participation.
However, they both seemed to suffer from lack of focus. With so much content and so many ideas, it could be confusing for the target to know what to do. They also seemed to lack a strong call to action – the link to donate was not very clear.
- Overall, it is critical to establish a clear call to action. Tell people exactly what you want them to do and when. Is it a party at whch you charge for admission? A donation amount per item? When should it be done by? Clarity, focus and urgency are key.
- One idea might be to create an event. Say for example, a national bake off day or a crafts day. This should be a named date and all communication should be focused on getting your target to do something for or by this specific day.
- It might also be useful to focus on one event – either Crafts or Baking. Although both are excellent ideas, it may be a source of confusion to people which may mean that they fail to act. Team overall felt that the Bake it with me event had more promise.
- A strong partner would also raise the event’s profile. Companies like Hovis, Homepride, Waitrose/John Lewis or Hobbycraft might be ideal. Alternatively a celebrity endorsement or participation would also be useful. Client did note that partnerships can and do take time to establish and the team agreed, but encouraged that lines of communication might be opened now in time for a partner launch in Sept or October in time for a big event. If bigger partners are difficult to work with, consider others such as Budgens or Costco. Long term partnerships with educators in which the Bake it Me event becomes part of home economics courses or Make it with me part of design technology annually could also be promising.
- Tying the event into a seasonal occasion might also be powerful – either with or without a partner. This might be a summer tie-in as this is traditionally a time for parents seeking activities to do with children, or later in the year Back to school, Halloween or Christmas. Should you create an event, particularly one for parents and children to do together, you could easily get coverage of this on shows like GMTV, Blue Peter, etc who are actively looking for ideas for children. Other shows such as Can’t Cook/Won’t Cook might be worth considering, or creating a bespoke event with a show such as Richard and Judy in which they both sponsor and participate.
- Possible summer seasonal ideas included : bake your own Harry Potter character for July 15 movie launch, or a child friendly theme for the summer such as monsters, Horrible Histories, what I did on my summer holiday etc. A Parent/Child bake off competition or challenge might also be an idea.
- Sponsoring a world record such as “biggest cake” or “longest sandwich” or similar might also be ways of attracting followers and PR.
- Consider using current mailing lists and supporters to drive support for the event – push out the idea to them first. Also consider other organisations for parents and children such as summer camps and local council activity centre lists.
- Stock the current FB or websites with more content, especially video. Don’t be afraid to make it homegrown – get staff to bake something together around the theme, or a key group of supporters, and upload the video. Remember that people do love and share video content naturally these days, especially if it is fun or amusing.
- Use other Mencap friendly distributions networks who have natural affinity with your cause – Mumsnet, Teacher’s TV, educational groups, supporters, friends and family. All of your events should be seeded with these networks automatically.
- Consider a higher profile for Make it and Bake it sites on the Mencap homesite – it is very hard to find
- Deepen FB and Twitter usage by researching other groups and liking them. On Twitter you can search by subject and follow lists – search crafts, baking and other topics such as these. Search engine optimisation is also worth looking at – ensure that both sites are stocked with the most searched phrases for parents, teachers and children looking for activities.
- Quick discussion was held about Mencap’s other big event – the Spellathon. Mencap is building a selection of apps and games around spelling. Team thought that these sounded promising. For younger adult supporters, advice was to create a game that could be played on a mobile phone during down times such as waiting in queues, on the tube, etc. Building in a sense of competition would be key for attracting male gamers in particular. Ideas around this involved allowing the gamers to track their points and perhaps encouraging them to donate an amount per point. Better still, allow the gamers to challenge each other and the loser has to donate a pre-agreed amount each time they lose.
- One last idea was piggybanks. Could Mencap sponsor piggybanks and get them into children’s homes and schools? This could let parents and teachers to discuss charitable donations and our obligation to help others, as well as make it easy to donate to Mencap.
Find out more at http://www.mencap.org.uk/