The Fundraiser - Practical advice and insight for the charity sector

Posted in Interviews Campaigns & Appeals

In conversation with Sue Baker OBE, Global Director of Time to Change

Sue Baker OBE is the Global Director of Time to Change, England's most ambitious programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination. She explains to The Fundraiser why the movement has been such a success story and gives fundraisers advice on developing their own campaigns…

Can you share with us your top reasons why Time to Change has been so effective?

  1. Being evidence-based. Using evidence from other countries helped us to secure funding for a very innovative mental health anti-stigma programme for England, as well having an extensive evaluation framework to build the evidence base (and impact data) from every aspect of our programme. This impact data was vital to secure future funding.
  2. Partnerships are vital between delivery and governance partners, funders, and those of us with direct lived experience. It is a great asset of this programme that we are a partnership of NGOs and funders. The scale of our programme and the ambitious outcomes have always meant, and I’ve said this repeatedly from the outset over ten years ago, that everyone has to a role to play in this era of social change. We also work in partnership with our audiences and funders still see partnerships as a key strength.
  3. Leadership and capacity building. Our focus on people with lived experience leading change at all levels of our programme, internally and externally, is core to the success of our approach. Putting this as a value or principle in a funding bid is easy, but bringing this to life takes time and resource to turn it into more than lip service in a funding bid.
  4. Check your level of ambition (i.e. the balance of breadth versus depth). Be clear where you are going to have wider reach, and where you will be more intense in delivery. We invested significant amounts in national-level social marketing and communications activities – as our outcomes were focused on evidenced national levels of attitude and behaviour change - so be realistic about the investment needed if you are committing to significant change at national population levels when your field is so highly stigmatised. Be clear where you will need to do more intensive work. We have always had a spread of national and local work (a careful balance of investment in more intensive delivery as well as the national campaign) that must complement each other, as well as in key settings like employers and schools. Getting the balance right in a bid is a careful juggling act.
  5. Evolution and Innovation – ambitious programmes need a process of constant review and evolution. Securing long-term funds for this scale of programme was always our ambition, but you can’t stand still and deliver the same things from one phase to another – there is always learning and evolution, and funders want to see this.
  6. Sustainability – this is easy to write in a funding bid, but really delivering this takes focus and resource, and many bids lack more sophisticated thinking on how to embed this work with a focus from the outset. We have built sustainability as a programme outcome that will need evidencing.

How can fundraisers ensure their campaigns are sustainable and will provide results in the long term?

Thinking about sustainability from the outset is crucial. We have always known that we won’t exist in so many years, so we need to embed Time to Change as a social movement in local communities by empowering others to change attitudes.

We have thousands of champions across the country who use their own experience of mental health problems to help shape attitudes around mental health. This might be through events, media interviews or public speaking.

Over four years (2017 – 2021), we will be working with groups of local organisations and mental health champions to set up local Time to Change ‘hubs’. They combine the insights from the national campaign with local knowledge to support communities, workplaces and schools to help end the negative attitudes and behaviours towards people experiencing mental health problems where they live. In addition, we’ve signed over 700 employers to our campaign – allowing us to reach many thousands of employees with our message.

How should charities be identifying their key performance indicators?

It all depends on the objective of the programme. A behaviour change campaign such as ours should focus on actual evidenced change, as well as attitude change. We have used behaviour theory of change models to do this. I’d also recommend measurement of empowerment among people with lived experience – the leaders of the campaign (nationally, regionally and locally). Social capital could be another measure – campaigns need to ensure they actually benefit people involved in them.

How can collaboration help to create a more successful campaign?

Collaborating allows us to take the strengths and skills from our partners to better engage our key audiences. When partners collaborate from the outset they are inevitably more invested in making change happen, and we’ve seen this in action in our work with schools, workplaces and local organisations.

How can charities involve their service users to make campaigns more successful?

People with lived experience are at the heart of what we do and are absolutely mission critical to our campaign. Empower your supporters by giving them the necessary tools to share your message. For example, we have trained our champions on many aspects of campaigning – from how to act as a media case study, to how to deliver mental health awareness sessions, to social media and blogging advice. By acting as one movement we bring our supporters into our campaign and together we are more powerful.

Is there any advice you would give to charities which are yet to launch their first campaign?

Follow social marketing principles – a key one, that is core part of our success, is having a campaign that is audience-insight driven. This means using research to identify your audience, and then find out what they need to change. People running campaigns are too close to the issue to know what needs to be delivered. We have used thorough audience insight focus groups at every stage of our campaign.

Use all of your platforms – earned and owned media like your websites, social media, PR and media activities, and ensure all delivery is aligned on messaging. Work in partnership with your audience/s – you are on their side, not pointing fingers or blaming them for their attitudes and behaviour (or policies if organisations) as this won’t work!

Leave a comment