Why charities need champions

Logo: Groundwork

In a fast-paced world that is regularly summed up in 140 characters, ambassadors enable charities to cut through the noise and reach new and existing audiences that resonate with people on both a national and local level.

Similar to any recommendation, whether it’s where to go for the perfect cup of tea or a great hotel for a holiday, having peer-on-peer, celebrity, or corporate advocacy allows for charities to be promoted by the people who have benefitted, contributed or seen first-hand the benefits to derive from what the charity offers.   Therefore, it’s important that charities have advocates that regularly donate their time, their money or their voice to build a robust supporter network and successfully raise their brand awareness.  

The real deal

In a day-to-day reality, ambassadors are so much more than cheerleaders for an organisation. As well as giving their stamp of approval, their ambassador or advocate role allows charities to reach an audience and get their message out there through a different voice that is relatable and ‘gets’ the cause they are championing.

It’s vital that charities research and choose wisely before taking ambassadors on board and ensure that key messages and values are aligned. In order for success, the ambassador-charity relationship needs to be genuine and built of mutual understanding and agreement.  

Mark Lane (Groundwork UK)
Mark Lane (Groundwork UK)

Broadcaster and gardener, Mark Lane is Groundwork’s first Health, Wellbeing and Community Ambassador. His role in Groundwork is to help Groundwork meet strategic objectives by helping to raise awareness with a wider audience.

“I was inspired to get in touch with Groundwork, as I strongly believe there is a great synergy of ethos and approach to safe-guarding, improving and creating new neighbourhoods and outdoor spaces for the betterment of the environment and for the improvement to communities,” said Mark.

“My landscape design career has allowed me to share first-hand the importance of re-connecting people with nature, outdoor spaces and community neighbourhoods, so I was thrilled when they asked me to become their Health, Wellbeing and Community Ambassador.”

Community champions

Community champions are a different breed in that they have both the passion and the local knowledge to implement change – two things that are not easily plucked from a shelf.

For Groundwork, this stems from volunteers and people who are enrolled in our programmes and also, people who have seen physical improvements in the local community.

Community champions mobilise beneficiaries and local networks to encourage even more support, ultimately persuading them to become champions too and therefore creating a whole new division of community volunteers and fundraisers.

Irene Lewis (Groundwork UK)
Irene Lewis (Groundwork UK)

Irene Lewis, who lives in Hackney, London has been the driving force for a local community garden on her estate that has since helped to bring the community together. As a result of being involved in Groundwork projects, she has both gained appreciation for the charity and what we stand for, which allows for our charity values to be put in practice.

“Sandford Court is worth a million to me,” said Irene. “The space was really empty and desolate. That was when I found out about Groundwork, and I thought ‘come on girl – see what you can do!’”  

Power of the corporate

Building relationships with corporate partners allows for a different audience to learn more and relate to a charities core brand values.

In our experience, businesses are increasingly looking at more innovative ways of being a good corporate neighbour, through skills-based volunteering and Charity of the Year Partnerships that allow companies to proactively give back and engage with social corporate responsibilities.

Skanska (Groundwork UK)
Skanska (Groundwork UK)

“At Skanska we really take pride in our approach to the environment and being a responsible, sustainable business,” said Adam Crossley, Director of Environment at Skanska. “We love the idea of being able to contribute to a lasting legacy in the communities around where we work, so it’s great when our people get to volunteer with a partner like Groundwork who care so much about both the environment and the communities in which we work.”

The kids are alright

The lasting benefits and new vision that young people bring to the table is something that all charities should embrace.

Not only are the youth of today the next generation of fundraisers, they are also powerful advocates in their young age and in our experience, socially conscious about the world around them. Social action speaks volumes and in a social media world, a lot of this shouting happens online. The tech-savvy generation can create a buzz about a cause in a 10 second video on Snapchat and still create a lasting impact, making them a vital asset in promoting a charities brand to the wider – and future – generation.

Groundwork has recently established, ‘Groundwork Youth’, a new programme of work to help inspire and engage young people across the country to be social action and environmental advocates in their local community. By nurturing the next generation of Young Green Leaders, we can ensure that their voices are heard and more importantly, that they understand and appreciate the value of what we do and take this forward with them later in life.

"Volunteering has made me more aware of what’s around me what the issues actually are,” said Jamie, 16 who volunteered with Groundwork last summer. “We want to ensure that young people are a part of the community and that people don’t just see us as just rowdy teenagers.”

To find out more about how you can be an Ambassador with Groundwork, please visit -

Written by Stacey Aplin, PR and Communications Officer at Groundwork

First published in CJS Focus on Fundraising & Promotion in association with the Environmental Funders Network on 22 May 2017

More on:

Built by Jack Barber in Whitby, North Yorkshire. Visit Herbal Apothecary for herbal practitioner supplies, Sweet Cecily's for natural skincare, BeeVital for propolis health supplements and Future Health Store for whole foods, health supplements, natural & ethical gifts.