Communications for Time-Poor Heritage Organisations

8th February, 2023

To see all the Rebuilding Heritage communications resources click here.

Being S.M.A.R.T. about your Communications when Time is limited

When pushed for time, it’s tempting to undertake communications tasks on a play-by-play basis. But in order to prevent mishaps further down the line, it’s best to start out by setting some realistic goals and targets.

Not only will this increase your chances of reaching your desired outcome, but it will also give you a great sense of achievement when it’s time to review your progress.

Setting goals for your communications can be as simple as writing them down – preferably in a document that you can easily refer to during the process.

Using the S.M.A.R.T. framework will help you to break down your big ambitions into achievable tasks.

S.M.A.R.T. =






Be Specific

What is it that you are trying to accomplish? When looking at the big picture, it can be easy to stray from your communications path.

Instead, you should try drilling down to the specific things you are looking to achieve.

Are you looking to build awareness of your heritage organisation? Increase footfall on your historical site? Reach a certain fundraising goal?

Whatever it is, be clear and be specific. Examples of specific goals include:

Increase funding

Raise awareness

Recruit staff and/or volunteers

Promote events both online and offline

Influence the converation

Build a community

Network more effectively

Reach different audiences

Increase website traffic

Clear intentions can also be helpful when communicating your plans to internal stakeholders. If you want to get quick approval for a new campaign or strategy, you will find that a simple objective, easily understood, helps a lot.

Make it Measurable

Measuring communications can be difficult if you haven’t decided in advance what you want to measure. That’s because some outcomes, like behavioural change or awareness, may not actually be quantifiable.

So, think about what you can measure. For example, if you’re trying to raise awareness of your heritage site, you could speak to your on-site team and think about implementing a ‘How did you find out about us’ section in any feedback cards they might have.

It can be quite simple to make your goals measurable – you just need to include something quantifiable, a percentage, date or another number.

For instance, ‘In the next month, we will recruit five new regional volunteers to support our restoration work in the Spring/Summer’.

Also, have a think in advance about what measurement tools you might want to use.

If you’re going to be looking at website views, make sure your Google Analytics is working correctly. This is especially important if you will be measuring your success after July 2023, when Universal Analytics will be retired. You’ll need to activate your Google Analytics 4 account prior to this to ensure it’s gathering the data you need after July.

Here’s some additional guidance to help you with this important transition.

Develop Attainable Goals

Goals need to be within reach, but not too easy. If you give yourself a chance to be ambitious in a manageable way, you’ll feel wholly satisfied in the end.

Think ‘Okay, so I don’t have much time to work on this, but how can I also challenge myself?’

You could revaluate some of the things that have and haven’t worked in the past.

Have you ever sent a press release to the same journalist again and again but never heard back? Don’t send them anything this time. Instead, challenge yourself to find one new journalist you could introduce yourself to.

Try a quick Google search to see if someone you haven’t spoken to before has written something recently about heritage organisations.

Keep your Goals Relevant

When it comes to time saving, it’s especially important to assess whether your goals are relevant. Remind yourself of your organisational values and mission. Do they align? And will these goals help your organisation as a whole?

A great example of this is from The Story Museum in Oxford, which ran a digital fundraising campaign in 2022. The purpose was to raise enough money to distribute 3,000 ‘Dream Tickets’ to families, enabling them to visit the Museum for just £1.

The Story Museum’s vision is to ‘enrich lives, especially young lives, through stories’, and their mission is to ‘achieve this by collecting great stories and sharing them in great ways at our most unusual Museum’.

The organisation kept their objective relevant throughout the campaign by reminding their audiences that their donation will allow young people and their families access to the museum for an immersive storytelling experience.

Note how this campaign also had a specific goal, with a quantifiable target that was within reach. It’s not at all surprising that they smashed their £15,000 donation target!

Ensure your Goal is Time-Bound

Finally, make sure your goals are time-bound with a deadline. It’s okay to be ambitious – for instance, could you set a deadline that challenges you, whilst also keeping you on track with any other work?

Research shows that a sense of urgency can often increase productivity.

Final Tips

Time is something that challenges everyone who works in the charity sector. By setting yourself goals that are achievable, and having a deadline to work towards, you are setting yourself up for success.

You could also try setting up automations and leaning on community for support. Work smarter, not harder. For example:

Schedule your posts in advance: check out some free and low-cost social media management platforms here that you can use to create any social posts you have and schedule in a batch.

Use templates: use Canva to create free graphics to accompany your communications; they have hundreds of templates that you can easily adapt to your branding.

Ask for advice: if you’re just looking for a sounding board or some information, try asking your fellow charity industry colleagues. There are many Facebook and LinkedIn groups out there just for this, and everyone is willing to help!


Ultimately, if done correctly, following the S.M.A.R.T. framework will help you stay on track by keeping you focussed.

In the long run, this will save you the time you need to work on those longer-term projects that you never quite can get to.

Good time management will also help you when you come to running your next communications campaign as you’ve already built-in your measurement activities, and you won’t need to waste any time figuring out what or what didn’t work before.

You’ll know what is achievable and what your benchmarks are – all of which is going to set you up for success!

More Resources

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