Donna White is Senior Head of Digital and Youth Marketing at The Prince’s Trust, focusing on attracting young people to be involved in The Trust’s programmes. Previously she had worked in PR for public sector and hospitality clients. She has been at The Prince’s Trust since 2013, starting off in communications, before focusing on digital.
Don’t be afraid to use your connections. During the pandemic, when a lot of our in-person delivery had stopped overnight, we still needed to support young people. So, we reached out to our celebrity ambassadors. We wrote a manifesto script, stitched all the celebrity clips together, and used that video to cut through the noise and drive a lot of traffic to our support hub. It was incredibly successful – we had that exponential reach from all those celebrities sharing it.
Think like a business, think like a consumer. Gone are the days where you could just trust that people will want to do charity because it’s the right thing to do. Charities are competing against brands outside of the sector. When you’ve got people’s attention, can you hold it for a certain amount of time in order for them to take up that action? There’s so much competition. You have to shout above the noise, but you’re trying to do that, sometimes, with less specialisms, less budgets, less resource.
We’re learning a lot from using TikTok. In 2020, we partnered with TikTok as part of its #LearnOnTikTok initiative to motivate people to learn skills online. We were just being experimental. We didn’t put KPIs against it – we just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. And we were quite quickly reaching a million people per video. We’ve now got a lot of work to do to sustain momentum.
If you’re going to be here, you have to play the game. On TikTok, we learnt that the Prince’s Trust social personality had to be a little bit more tongue in cheek, to be more approachable and relatable. You have to have fun and can’t expect lots of people to be visiting your website or delivering a hard outcome for you. You’re working hard to just be cool, working hard to just get people to say hello. So that was a real step change for us, but I do believe it’s the future for authentic brand-building.
I wish we were better known. We are one of those organisations where everybody has heard about us, but nobody knows what we do. And we’re very aware of that. We’re starting to put brand strategy and brand plans in place. I would love to see us start to shift the dial and increase our relevance for the future.
Don’t try to do everything on your own. It doesn’t necessarily give you the reputation that you need, or you think you need. You’re not expected to have all of the answers, but you are expected to bring the right people together to devise a strategy.
Not saying no can be dangerous. I’m always concerned for the wellbeing of the team. There’s always so much to do. Possibly it’s because, working at a charity, everybody has that mindset of I’m here to help, I don’t want to say no to anything. When I read about people having burnout and struggling, I can definitely sense that that is real. I feel a great sense of responsibility to spot the signs before anything escalates.
I love to learn. A really good working day for me is when I have learnt something new. What I like about the role that I have here at The Prince’s Trust is, just because you’re in marketing doesn’t mean you have to stay in marketing. I’m reliant on so many other different functions within the organisation. So I really try get to get under the hood of what other people are doing, because if they’re doing a good job, I can do a good job.
Cause & Effect is a series from Hope, in which leading figures who have been involved in building and promoting good causes tell us what they’ve learned from their experiences. Interview by Michael Isaacs.