Communicating for Change: Five Lessons from Argyle’s Second Annual Community Day

Last week, Argyle hosted its second annual Community Day, an intense day of pro-bono communications training and consulting for charities and non-profit organizations. With the backdrop of an ongoing pandemic and important social justice movements, Argyle’s Community Day committee of 15 volunteers focused the day on supporting organizations with mandates or programs that advance equity and social justice.

On June 9, we virtually hosted over 50 participants representing 35 organizations from coast to coast. And while many signed up to learn from Argyle’s experts, everyone learned from one another. Here are our top five takeaways:

1. Sustainable, social change is difficult but can create opportunities for organizations

During our discussion on “Sustainable Social Change”, we learned how real change requires reframing how you look at things. While this can be disruptive, making the desired change more approachable and attainable can motivate and inspire others in a meaningful way. Sustainable social change can be achieved if you give people a purpose to support, an excuse to act and make the process fun, simple and authentic.

In the day’s opening keynote, Argyle CEO Daniel Tisch shared examples of how non-profit organizations can seize the “jump-ball” moment presented by this time of uncertainty and change. He believes we are entering “a golden age of advocacy and social marketing,” sparking an opportunity for the charitable sector to build strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders, and to deliver value in new ways.

2. Big issues require brave ideas – and breakout creative

A “Deep Dive” presentation from Argyle’s VP Creative, Whitney Siemens, and its VP Creative Strategy, Andrew Stewart, taught us to start every creative idea with a bona fide insight – something new and fresh – and ensure you’re staying true to your audience. Taking a creative leap of faith derived from data and proven marketing methodologies will drive attention and, most important, results.

The ‘Hope’ campaign organized by The Lighthouse for Grieving Children to shine a light on Children’s Grief Awareness Day is a great example that demonstrates how a creative idea can help generate public interest and ultimately raise funds for meaningful projects.

3. Authenticity is essential

When many organizations are competing for attention and support, our “Learning Lab” presentations reminded us how important it is to build authentic relationships with our target audiences. For the Argyle team working on critical projects with the Indigenous community, understanding and respecting indigenous worldviews has been the necessary foundation to building and maintaining respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples.

For non-profit organizations where donations are vital to the survival of the organization, genuine insights on donors and their personalities can lead to better communication that resonates with this audience. When planning an event, it’s important to know your target audience from various dimensions – from culture and identity to ability and physicality – to develop a truly inclusive event.

4. In a shrinking media landscape, a compelling story and meaningful partnerships can help create impact

Newsrooms are shrinking and, in some cases, closing, while a new cohort of digital publishers are building innovative business models to keep citizens informed — while ensuring their own sustainability. Non-profit and charity organizations are in a unique position to secure earned coverage through strong narratives, compelling stories, community-driven and hyper-local angles and meaningful call to action.

In this new landscape, strategic partnerships can be a powerful tool to help reach your audience. In addition to digital media partnerships, corporate partnerships can provide much-needed resources to support important work in the charitable sector. Meaningful engagement with stakeholders and influencers can help turn them into strong advocates of your mission and program.

5. Cultural humility opens us up to learning and growth

The highlight of Argyle Community Day this year was the panel discussion where our panelists – Anjum Sultana, National Director of Public Policy & Strategic Communications, YWCA; Deirdre Thomas, Executive Director, The Lighthouse for Grieving Children; and Dorota Blumczynska, CEO, Manitoba Museum – discussed their experience dealing with equity and social justice issues in the past year. A key takeaway: ensure you take a “culturally humble approach” when exploring new territory, there is always room to learn and grow.

Argyle has always been driven by its ambition to apply our communications skills to help build a healthier, more sustainable society, and to help leaders communicate with confidence. Argyle Community Day provided the team with an opportunity to share our expertise with various non-profit organizations to support them in building more equitable communities. We look forward to sharing with even more organizations next year.

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