As a charity PR agency we’ve learnt how to grab the attention of the charity media, the nationals that write about charity, and freelance journalists with a keen interest in stories within the third sector. We asked our media relations team to provide a breakdown of the most prominent publications and journalists to help you with the pitching process.
Charity Times is a leading management title for charity leaders, championing influential and inspirational leadership across the UK charity sector. Every two months, the title publishes a print and online magazine with features, analysis, interviews, and opinions on all aspects of charity leadership. The magazine is also home to guides and supplements, including the annual Charity Trustee Guide and Charity Digital Guide. It has a circulation of 8,500.
Charity Times also hosts podcasts, looking at a series of topics including, ‘what the pandemic has taught us about the public’s perception of charities’ and ‘how to keep your charity safe from cyber fraud’ featuring interviews with charity sector leaders. As well as this Charity Times also hosts webinars and round tables, all of which could be a great way to showcase your charity and place yourself as a thought leader.
Email the editor Lauren Weymouth or call them if you’d like to discuss case studies showcasing innovative examples of charity leadership.
Charity Today is one of the leading charity news publications in the UK, with a monthly circulation of 15,530. Founded by Lee Rayment in 2009, the website offers a free national platform to officially registered charities to raise awareness of their cause and promote their activities. It has since become a helpful tool for charities of all sizes to share news about their campaigns and activities.
One of the UK’s most respected publications for the charity and voluntary sector, Third Sector features regular comments from renowned charity leaders such as Debra Allcock Tyler and Paul Streets. Its readership figure of 6,095 largely comprises senior individuals in charities and voluntary organisations. Others are parliamentarians, lawyers, finance professionals, or people occupying CSR roles in organisations.
They’re always happy to hear from charities and organisations that want to submit useful comments or feature articles. However, they only accept one-off articles from people who work directly in the charity sector and no longer accept submissions from commercial organisations or consultants. To secure an opportunity, provide a short synopsis of your topic and the date you’re planning to submit. Articles need to be around 500-600 words and include a high-resolution landscape image.
Third Sector also has an option for charity or private sector individuals to become regular columnists by contributing six articles per year. Get in touch with the editor, Emily Burt, if you’re interested. Whilst most of the articles written by contributors are for free, they do sometimes offer payment to smaller charities or professional writers.
Civil Society is a media company that is committed solely to supporting the charity sector, providing digital and printed publications, training courses and live events. It was founded in 1990 by the late Daniel Phelan whose main goal was to help charities deliver sustainable public benefit.
The Civil Society website is where you will find all of the editorial content as well as blogs, news and in-depth features and a voices section, allowing for members of the charity community to let their voices be heard and provide content. The other publications under the Civil Society umbrella include, Charity Finance, Fundraising, Governance & Leadership magazine and the Charity Finance Yearbook. All of these titles are focused on supporting different aspects of the charity sector and include thought leadership, regular columnists and article opportunities.
Get in touch with the editor of Civil Society News, Kirsty Weakley to see if any of their publications would be a good fit for your organisation.
Charity focused journalists at the nationals
Alison Holt, BBC Social Affairs Editor covers social care, welfare, child protection, disability and family life in general. She is an award-winning correspondent for BBC’s main national TV and radio news programmes, also for the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme, Panorama. The BBC cover a lot of news about charities and it can be anything from famous stars such as Ed Sheeran making charity donations, the strangest charity donations, to people changing their lives around from being homeless. Video content goes down very well and will stand out so if you have this as an option you should consider submitting it. The team is looking for the following types of content from CEOs and experts:
- New thoughts/perspective that move a story on and don’t just echo what’s been said
- Punchy, readable articles that make strong arguments; they want experts that demolish conventional wisdom or dissent from opinions that BBC have already published
- Someone actually involved/affected by a story is of better use than just some comments
- Off the record chats with experts are always helpful
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 has a weekly three-minute program to highlight the work of a charity and appeal for donations to support its activities. The appeal aims to provide an opportunity for raising money and awareness for a variety of individual charities. BBC Radio 4 broadcasts 49 such appeals every year and is a fantastic way for a charity to engage with the BBC’s large audience.
Registered charities need to meet specific criteria before applying for an appeal. A panel of external assessors and the BBC’s Appeals Advisory Committee then assess the approved applications for selection.
The title has a charity section on its website that showcases deserving charities’ work and features an array of news stories related to the sector.
Hayley Dixon, Special Correspondent at The Daily Telegraph, often covers news in relation to charities. Fiona Gibson is a freelancer who’s based in Glasgow and has shown interest in charities. She will be interested in case studies specifically. It is worth noting that anything you pitch for editorial needs to come across as subtle with your approach and avoid sounding like an advertorial.
The title’s rights and freedom series, edited by award-winning human rights journalist Annie Kelly, reports on human rights abuses around the world. Supported by Humanity United, the series elevates the voices of those fighting for justice.
Patrick Butler, social policy editor, The Guardian, is usually interested in welfare and benefits/gov news. The topic he has covered most recently is charities and good causes. He will typically refer to the Charity Commission and Citizens Advice in his work and will give brand mentions. Large organisations such as the RSPCA, Barnardo’s and Shelter have been featured in his work and narratives backed up by data stand a very good chance. The data has to be sufficient/representative though (i.e. thousands in the sample) and the company needs to be reputable.
The Guardian have a section on charities which features many stories in relation to the latest announcements affecting the sector as well as stories that have a real human interest angle. Think a big extraordinary campaign or a data-led feature along the lines of ‘Britain’s top earners giving less to charity while income rises’. It is a hugely topical conversation and thus does well with The Guardian’s diverse readership. The social affairs team are a good bet to go with a story too and there isn’t a specific journalist that solely writes stories on the third sector. The Guardian will accept letters so writing a punchy one is a good way in should there be a policy change or any major sector news.
With the PA, it is worth contacting someone specific in the features team. Whilst there isn’t a reporter that is specifically focussed on third sector news, it is important to understand that upon securing an opportunity with the publisher, the chances of wider coverage are incredibly high as it will often syndicate across other publications/publishers. Exclusivity is key and the journalists will often make you sign an agreement to ensure that you don’t take the story elsewhere. The PA audience is non-specialist therefore stories need a broad appeal – a PA correspondent once recommended: “Ask yourself what your mother would want to read instead – or more accurately what I think your mother or my grandma, or Barry at my local would want to read”.
The Metro is a well-read publication and covers the latest news and updates from the world of charity. It includes frequent updates on volunteering opportunities, great fundraisers to get involved in, inspirational feature stories, and important campaigns. Similarly to some of the other national publications, there isn’t one particular journalist who covers charity but the way to go would be to get in touch with the lifestyle/real life/feature journalists with a strong case study.
Top freelance charity contacts
Sam Carlisle has worked across several major titles, including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Express, Metro, and HuffPost. She was also a newspaper reviewer for the BBC.
Building on 25 years of experience as a senior journalist, Sam founded Cause Communications in 2017, offering communication and media advice and PR for charities and socially responsible companies.
Brian Deer is an award-winning investigative journalist best known for probing the drug industry, medicine, and social issues for The Sunday Times. In 2020, he published his investigative nonfiction book The Doctor Who Fooled the World. Brian also has his own website that includes a selection of his published works, information about his books, and pages of evidence from some of his longer inquires.
David Brindle is a leading social policy journalist and former public services editor, and society editor for The Guardian newspaper. He’s an influential commentator on social care issues with more than 30 years’ journalism experience in the sector.
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