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The Camphill Family

Writing these blogs gets you thinking about questions such as – how do charities create and develop relationships with supporters? What level of contact maintains interest without creating irritation? One charity that I believe strikes just the right balance in the way it builds a sense of involvement with donors through its quarterly newsletters, is the Camphill Family.

So what is this charity about? The Camphill Family came to my attention some years ago when I learned of their Botton Village Community. Initially, I supported it with periodic donations, although I feel that it is so worthwhile that I now give on a regular basis. The charity supports sustainable communities where able bodied people share their lives with individuals who have learning difficulties or other mental health problems. It aims to provide rich and fulfilling lives for community members, with everyone able to make their own contribution and develop their potential. It is a simple but powerful philosophy, and it is translated into actions that bring huge benefits to the individuals in the community. This is both the able bodied community members (who I have deep admiration for) and those who have special needs. It is underpinned by tolerance, mutual respect, sharing and acceptance of people for what they are. Society as a whole could learn a lot from the Camphill communities.  

OK, so I like the message, but why do I think that they get their communication right? Well, they write to me 4 times per year – I can cope with that. The Camphill Family Life newsletter is 4 pages with photographs, updates on current projects and articles on individuals and their lives in the communities. Just as importantly, there is an accompanying sheet asking me how I want to continue being involved. Do I want 4 newsletters per year or only one, or none at all? It also includes options for catalogues, including Camphill in your will – even an option to get the newsletter by e-mail. You do not get a lot of unsolicited material through the post. Not too many charities seem to have that philosophy. However, I do like to receive their card at Christmas! 

So well done to the Camphill Family. I think your work is great, but I also believe that your communications policy is a model that other charities could really profit by. So keep up the great work. 

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