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5 Minute GAP - Charlotte & Natasha talk about compassion in charity communications


Last week Director of Communications Charlotte Zamboni and Head of Compassion Natasha Parker took part in the Charity Comms conference "Communicating to create change: tackling the environmental crisis". Here they talk about why it was so important to them to take part and why it's so important for climate communicators to take compassion into account.


The conference is still available to watch at CharityComms.


"We Share Freely". The change we want to see in the world is bigger than we are. So, we're sharing our knowledge, resources and ideas to help more people and organisations take steps forward towards our vision of a green and thriving planet, where everyone can enjoy happy and healthy lives within the Earth's limits.


As part of this, we're launching our new "5 Minute GAP" series, a collection of five minute conversations that will share how we work and what we're working on. We'll talk about what we're trying to achieve and why, how we function as an organisation, and the thinking behind our plans and strategy.


We'll be regularly sharing these conversations, which will feature different members of our team and trustee board, as well as external experts.


We hope you enjoy listening in to our chats, getting to know our team and finding out what makes us who we are. 



Audio only version:


If you prefer to read rather than watch, the transcription is here: 


Charlotte: I think what was important to us and to me was that we brought a kind of lens into that conversation that we felt would make people think a little bit differently. And that was very much true to to our GAP view of the world, because there are a lot of resources to help comms people communicate about the climate crisis. But there aren't many that do it through the lens of compassion. And as you know, we firmly and passionately believe that unless we speak with compassion about compassion, we're never going to solve the climate crisis. So it was just great to have an opportunity to influence the way that climate comms are done and to try and share that conversation and kind of invite feedback on that conversation when there's a particular point of view that we hold very dearly.

Natasha: Yeah, and I think there's so many accidental pitfalls that you can fall down without even realising that you're doing it when you're communicating about, well about climate, about environmental issues generally. And something we talk a lot about, as you know, at GAP is around this idea of a values perception gap, that the fact that when you ask people, most people now are pretty knowledgeable about climate change. People are concerned, they're worried. They care. But we have this sense that other people don't care as much as we do. And then that can stop us from acting as much as we want to because we don't want to seem like the slightly strange person that's banging on about climate all the time or, you know, always doing the ecologically friendly thing and worried about becoming...looking a bit too worthy and a bit too preachy and worried other people don't care as much as we do. 

And I think the way we can communicate it can either help to break that myth and actually bring people together and show that we do all care and we want to come together as communities to take action. Or we can accidentally reinforce it by making people think, yeah, you know, it's only people like me that want to take part in campaigns like this. And actually, others don't. So I think we've got to be really careful to make it feel like something that everybody wants to take part in and cares about. And so I think that's why it's so important to me because I think, you know, we can accidentally do things that are not not helpful.

Charlotte: And actually, what's interesting is that helps us as communicators as well, because quite often we sort of get a bit bogged down in kind of segments, and, you know, these people feel this and the red wall people feel that. And it can become quite complicated. And we haven't got many tools. Most of us aren't huge charities. So actually, if we...once we conclude that there's one thing we have all got in common, that we are all feeling compassion and we're all compassionate people, it actually brings together a really collective mindset for us as communicators to kind of target and speak into. A positive one and a fairly universal one, which just makes it much easier to be climate communicators if we just always remember that, that ultimately everybody really inside themselves is caring, is worrying and we can speak to that care. 

Natasha: Yeah. And we don't have to bribe them into it either by offering, "go take part in this and be entered into a prize draw". 

Charlotte: Here's your medal!

Natasha: Here's your medal. Well done. We don't we don't necessarily need those extrinsic motivators. And actually they can, again, be doubly harmful, even when we're communicating in a way like, you know, save money by doing the environmentally thing. It can be communicating that the only reason people would do this is because it's going to save them money or because they're going to get a medal for taking part or they're going to be entered in a prize draw for taking part. It reinforces that idea that people are really self-interested and they're not really going to take part in it. 

And the other way it can be undermining is that actually when we are truly intrinsically motivated to take part in something because we care about it, having those extrinsic kind of motivators can actually undermine our intrinsic motivation. So I was going to do it anyway, but all right, give me a medal, I don't really need it. 

Charlotte: And I'm not gonna do it next time if you don't give me a medal because medals are super important to me.

Natasha: It just feels a bit weird, doesn't it, you know. 

Charlotte: It does feel really weird.

Natasha: So it can almost be a little bit undermining. Just, really, we need to trust that people out there want to take part and become part of the solution. They want to be armed with the facts. They want to, have a positive impact and they don't need to be bribed into doing so. 

And yeah, it can accidentally reinforce that that idea that people are a bit selfish and don't want to. And we know that's actually not true.