This is the power of representation.By Joe Nicholson
Right now, you’re probably searching for ways to make your campaigns more diverse. But true inclusion is way more than a tick box exercise – and the story you’re about to read proves just how powerful authentic representation can be.
At Consider, we’ve been doing a lot of Legacy Fundraising for charities lately – asking people to leave gifts in their Wills to causes they care about.
Along the way, we’ve had the privilege to speak to people who have already left a gift, finding out why they’ve made this special decision.
And this story, from a charity supporter we met back in January, has stuck with us.
Our supporter – let’s call him John, to protect his privacy – is gay. He’s also in his seventies, and has left a gift to one of the UK’s biggest, oldest charities.
And the way this charity recognised his sexuality made all the difference.
You see, John used to work for them, more than 40 years ago. While he was there, he was open about the fact he had a male partner – even though most of society was downright hostile to queer people.
When the time came for John to move on, his colleagues sent him off with a card, as you do. Except in this card they’d written his partner’s name too, and wished them a happy life together.
That might seem a small gesture to us now. But back then, it was huge.
“It was the first time that I’d ever come across anybody in any official capacity acknowledging what my situation was, and including my partner,” John says. “That meant so much to me, and still does.”
It moved John so much, in fact, that when he got a mailing asking him to consider leaving a gift in his Will to this charity, he said yes.
Why? Because the respect they showed for his identity, all those years back, is something he’s never forgotten.
The world may have changed dramatically since when John was young. But the way we represent minority groups in marketing and advertising has got a long way to go.
Today, still, less than 20% of adverts feature people from minorities. But John’s story doesn’t just prove that we have a duty to represent minority groups in our work.
It’s definitive proof that, by doing so, we actually make our campaigns better.
Often we get caught up in assumptions about what our audiences are like. There’s a widespread fear about representing people that aren’t ‘the norm’.
We get worried about offending our audiences. But we forget that minority groups are part of them too.
Imagine what would happen if you stepped out and authentically represented one of the groups that rarely gets shown. What message would that send?
Who in your audience would feel recognised by you for the first time? And how would their loyalty to your organisation change?
You never know. You could be speaking to someone like John.
And they won’t forget what you say.
Getting authentic representation right is daunting – and we’re learning too. We’ve been working on ways to improve with a number of our clients, and we’d love to help you too – please do get in touch.
Joe NicholsonHead of Copy
Joe’s a big thinker who understands the power of words. As Head of Copy, he combines consistent creative magic with cross-channel expertise and rock-solid strategic thinking. Joe’s an experienced fundraiser, who also serves as a Trustee for homelessness charity, Housing Justice – you can read more about him here