5 things charities and startups can learn from each other

5 Things Charities Can Learn
  1. You can literally do anything to a website
  2. The importance of not planning digital in a silo
  3. Great content will be watched
  4. The future of remote working can be lonely 
  5. Take time for yourself

To give you context, the majority of my digital working life had been within the charity sector, so when an opportunity came up at my favourite fitness studio, I couldn’t say no to exploring the world of a fast-paced startup driven by two inspiring entrepreneurs. What I learnt from my 8 months at Frame far surpassed my expectations – from jade rollers, kombucha to the reality of remote working and challenging my perceptions of marketing completely. 

1. You can literally do anything to a website

Having been responsible for online advertising in previous roles, as opposed to developing or creating content I found out very quickly you literally can do anything to a website –  you just need time and a willing developer. 

Where previously I’d received a lot of noes – “No we can’t do that”, “No that won’t work” – I started to hear “Yes” at Frame. For the first time I had to catch myself from being too negative.

Here’s an example of the power of “Yes” that I experienced whilst at Frame. From a CRM planning meeting, we compromised on a mood filter which initially started as a new customer questionnaire. The mood filter on the timetable enabled Framers to search for classes by how they were feeling – cue “Moody AF” and “In retrograde”. Perhaps a disadvantage of being so progressive with developments was that we hadn’t quite put in place measurements of success – GA was a bit all over the place and they had no recording software. To overcome this I set up Sessioncam to enable the team to review interactions with the feature. It was often hard for me to balance the really important bug fixing, which tied back to business objectives, with these “just for fun” requests but ultimately the social feedback and the positive conversations around this was worth the time and I implore us all to think a little bit more YES. Having said that, I don’t believe the reason bigger organisations aren’t as reactive is because people enjoy being difficult, it’s the important and necessary structure, stability and security systems which can often be lacking in a start-up environment, the sweet spot in the middle is where good things happen.

2. The importance of not planning digital in a silo

We all know we shouldn’t plan digital in silo, we shouldn’t really plan anything on its own, but it happens. So what does taking planning in silo to planning a full funnel approach across all touch points, driven by a digital team, look like?

Where they were – multiple agencies and internal teams – no one really talking to each other.

Where we got to – bringing in-house all agency work both PR and digital media buying. By using a framework such as ‘See, Think, Do and Care’ we were able to map out all channels including digital, press and ATL to see where the gaps were and what would be the most effective channels to fill these with. I introduced display prospecting to reach key in-market audiences and YouTube in-stream advertising to reach and grow new customer acquisition.

Some will argue YouTube is not an acquisition channel, but with it reaching 1 in 2 people on the internet, it’s a great way for a start-ups to reach their core target audience with their very own version of TV.  But if you have the budget, do both. It will increase your overall brand metrics – https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/how-youtube-extends-reach-engagement-of-video-advertising/

This is still something I am yet to see being adopted by anywhere I’ve worked. It’s something we’re striving for at the BHF but really we only do this for digital buying and not for a whole 360 multi-channel campaign. Is it time we stop having and viewing digital marketing as a standalone team? I’m not sure of the answer but let’s keep the conversations going.

3. Great content will be watched

After introducing YouTube advertising I explored if its worth – for example what type of content was engaging with potential Framers. YouTube ads, which are optimised for the channel, should be front-loaded, so you get as much of the brand in front of people’s eyes before they hit the skip button at 5 seconds, that in itself is free inventory so it’s worth optimising for. As you only pay per view (which is calculated at 30 seconds of the video viewed) it’s worth landing your message within those 30 seconds and including a URL at the end as well as the provided option throughout.

I’ve run a lot of in-stream ads in my time and the types of benchmarks I was used to working with were an 18% view rate  – see for example BHF’s Amazing Dog – a 58 second purposely built native video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDNeRnYNzxg 

Frame’s ‘Move to change your mood’ is 1 minute 40 seconds long. At 5 seconds you only get the tagline and it really only starts to kick in 42 seconds onwards. But this video had the highest view rate I’ve ever seen – a whopping 47%. I’d like to think it was down to nailing the targeting but really, this is brilliant content and it doesn’t matter that it’s nearly 2 minutes long, and that you’re still not quite sure the price of a Yoga class: it resonates and holds the viewer’s attention. 


What I’d take from this is, your gut feeling is just a feeling. Prove yourself wrong with data. And best practice doesn’t always equal success. Rules are there to be broken. 

4. The future of remote working can be lonely

I always thought I had an entrepreneurial mindset but this new culture at Frame really threw me. With no fixed head office and WFH strongly encouraged I found myself working on my own quite often and even some days would go by without talking to anyone except over email. Over time this had a negative impact on my mood, motivation and kept fuelling my feelings of loneliness. I had some great advice shared with me at the time, that was to schedule in social time, meet someone within the industry for a coffee to get that face to face connection I was missing, schedule a meeting via Skype rather than solely email and I needed to make more of an effort myself to go into the co-working space.

Of course, this doesn’t happen to everyone as some people thrive in this type of environment – classes at lunchtime, talking to a new person every day at the coworking space or the autonomy of WFH and even big offices can be lonely.

Whilst this way of working didn’t suit me, I am so glad I experienced it, allowing be to be really clear on what type of environment I need.  I would recommend you explore what set up works for you. I read a quote on Linkedin not long into my time at Frame promoting a job at a startup: “Please don’t apply for this job if you work at a big corporate, even as much as you try and persuade us you will love it, you won’t”. This really resonated with me. It might be that the future is remote working, but what that looks like for me is a good combination of both.  

5. Take time for yourself

One of my favourite parts of Frame was the brilliant team I got to work with: these inspiring women taught me many things. I left with the knowledge that an espresso before a workout made me feel a whole lot better about lifting kettlebells, Kombucha with its many benefits is a wonderful afternoon pick me up drink and I don’t have to do exercise I don’t want to do – this was a revelation and Frame’s mantra – do exercise you enjoy. Some days that was simply Yin Yoga: think warm blankets and stretching. BHF’s pace has always been a million miles an hour, as was Frame, but what I take back with me is the importance of letting go, taking time for myself mentally and physically and a good scented roller can do wonders when you are feeling stressed. 

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