Macmillan Cancer Support

Creating a consistent approach to inclusive communications: our audit and recommendations for Macmillan

The Challenge

Macmillan Cancer Support is one of Britain’s largest charities and is committed to excellence in inclusive communications.

It has a large communications and advocacy team creating communications for a wide and varied audience: as well as the 3 million people in the UK living with cancer, this includes Macmillan’s volunteers, the press, governments, people within the charity itself and many more.

The team works hard to ensure all communications are diverse, equitable and inclusive. But they are striving to improve this further: to ensure all colleagues can consistently deliver inclusive communications, and that inclusive practices are instilled consistently throughout the planning and delivery processes of communications.

Another of their challenges, like many organisations, was to work out what initiatives and efforts to prioritise in the pursuit of more inclusive communications.

So Macmillan approached us at Folk, the experts in delivering impactful and inclusive communications and campaigns, to help them achieve this.

We bring deep experience of helping organisations make their marketing more inclusive and diverse, built around our six guiding principles for inclusive communications. We provide a wealth of additional knowledge and lived experience through our Real Folk Panel, a collective of underrepresented comms consultants.

Our Response

To achieve Macmillan’s goals, we needed to:

  • Benchmark baseline knowledge of, and confidence to execute, inclusive communications.
  • Identify current best practices and processes.
  • Identify opportunities to align best practices and processes.
  • Provide recommendations on which practices/processes to prioritise, and identify any necessary training and tools.
  • Create an action plan to help Macmillan prioritise which recommendations to roll out across different time scales.

As we’ve learnt on other inclusive projects, we knew that it would be essential to set out some clear rules of engagement. These included a spirit of open-mindedness and understanding that participants of the project could discuss sensitive and challenging topics in a safe environment and without judgement.

Our approach then involved:

  • Carrying out in-depth interviews with internal stakeholders, alongside a survey, to understand their ways of working, challenges and opportunities
  • Creating a survey to engage with appropriate external stakeholders, representing a diverse range of communities and circumstances, to gather their crucial input and feedback.
  • Formulating a bespoke Real Folk Panel of communication consultants including those who live/lived with cancer and their families and friends; this panel then conducted a deep dive review and audit of key Macmillan materials and processes.

We used all of this insight gathering to create a detailed report and presentation outlining our findings and what they meant for Macmillan. We provided detailed and actionable recommendations – and a practical action plan.

The outcome

The team at Macmillan are in the process of rolling out our recommendations, with confidence about what to prioritise and when.

Clare Thomson, Head of Planning & Performance at Macmillan, says: “We have a brilliant comms team who are passionate about inclusivity and it’s been so insightful to work with Folk to help us align best practises and create more consistency across the division.

“Folk provided a concrete plan, with practical actions – not just theoretical advice – that we’ve already started to roll out. We are now clear about what to prioritise to ensure that across the board we’re being as inclusive as possible when it comes to our communication outputs, which is an exciting step forward.

“One of the things I most appreciated about working with Folk was being able to work with the same experienced, senior team throughout, from pitch right through to the end of a project that was delivered on time and to our needs.”


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