Charity works both ways

Playtime in Greece featuring Marion. Photograph: Sarah Hickson
Playtime in Greece featuring Marion. Photograph: Sarah Hickson

By Jackie Bennett Shaw

The Magenta team has been supporting Clowns without Borders UK (CWB UK) for around a year now. This is a small charity, and many people may not have heard of them, but CWB UK does amazing work with refugee children in war-torn or disaster areas. They encourage the children to forget their troubles, and to laugh and play, through performances by some of the UK’s highly trained clowns, giving them back ‘the right to be a child’.

We found out about CWB UK through our part-time office manager, Marion. Not only is Marion totally talented at keeping our business running smoothly, outside of Magenta she works in community arts and is a volunteer clown with CWB UK. She has been on tour with the charity supporting children in India and in refugee camps in Greece, and the photos we have seen and the stories we have heard have been genuinely inspiring and moving.

So, with hearts, minds and bodies geared up and raring to go, some of the more daring Magenta team members have raised funds for CWB by facing their own personal and physical challenges and competing in various marathon events. And we’ve made corporate donations to fund Marion’s travel on tour too.

About six months ago, however, we started to think about how Magenta could make a real, sustainable difference to the charity, over and above the cash donation. For the charity, awareness is key to generating funds, increasing the scope of their work, changing perceptions and encouraging volunteer support.

In summer this year, we began our skills-based volunteering, tapping into our wide experience as a PR, content and communications agency. While we’re a B2B agency, we’ve got a huge amount of consumer experience too, having worked with big national and small community charities across many different forms of media.

We now work with CWB UK on a monthly pro bono retainer, writing press releases and articles, setting up broadcast and online media interviews, and writing and designing marketing material. We work closely with them in a practical and advisory capacity to spread their news and extend their reach to local, regional and national audiences.

But it’s not just CWB UK that gets something valuable out of this partnership. Working with a charity brings something fresh and new to our role – we love it! – and it enables us to develop our skills and experience in another area of PR and communication. And by supporting our amazing Marion, we’ve been able to hear first hand her emotional and impactful accounts of how the clowns’ visits have brought happiness and made a real difference. This provides a huge feel-good factor, and a higher level of local and global community engagement than sticking a fiver in the charity collection bucket.

For anyone else thinking of offering their professional skills to a charity, we’d highly recommend it. If anyone has any skills they can bring to CWB UK, they’d be glad to hear about it. If anyone would like to find out more or make a donation to CWB UK, just click the clown’s nose on their website. And if anyone would like to adopt them as their corporate charity, please contact us at Magenta.

Visit Clowns without Borders UK

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