Putting the audience at the centre of NSPCC digital strategy

Experience: Research and strategy

The NSPCC is the UK’s leading children’s charity fighting to end child abuse, working to protect children and prevent abuse for over 100 years. They asked for help navigating a period of digital transformation, benchmarking their progress, and supporting the wider organisation to understand their audiences, optimise content and confidently deliver supporter journeys.


The NSPCC lobbies the government on child welfare, raises awareness of child protection issues, provides info and advice for children via Childline and local service centres throughout the country, and provides consultancy and e-learning services for professionals working with children. Like many organisations in the charity sector, the NSPCC is currently in the midst of a major digital transformation,  involving cultural, procedural, practical and technological change to ensure they can meet the evolving needs of supporters in the (mainly) digital world. They engaged Manifesto to support this in four key ways:

• by benchmarking the organisation’s progress in digital transformation and provide recommendations on how to approach major change;

• by helping the organisation focus its key audiences and understand their needs, motivations and behaviours;

• by providing a new Information Architecture and navigation for the main supporter-facing website; and

• by providing a new content strategy to help the NSPCC meet the needs of both the organisation and its varied users.

What we did

The project kicked off with a period of in-depth discovery, during which the Manifesto team immersed themselves in the NSPCC’s existing brand and organisational strategy, research and audience personas, current production models and ways of working. We then devised a series of research and collaboration initiatives to deepen our understanding of the organisation and its audiences, before delivering our findings and recommendations.

Workshops, user research and analysis

To gain a better understanding of the NSPCC and how they work we conducted seven internal stakeholder workshops, collaboratively tackling tasks including a SWOT analysis, constructing a vision board, user journey mapping and a card sort. This gave us a clear picture of key stakeholders’ and subject experts’ understanding of their audiences, as well as priority content. We augmented this research through 10 depth interviews with internal stakeholders.

We then designed a survey for NSPCC audiences, which received over 1,600 responses, to determine who is using the site, their needs, impressions, key journeys and behaviours. We then followed this up with in-depth interviews with 16 users from the key audiences identified throughout the research; parents, secondary caregivers, professionals, fundraising supporters and volunteers.

Digital content personas

From an analysis of the research findings we identified common traits and behaviours among audience members and grouped them into eight digital content personas (six primary and two secondary). These personas would guide development of content strategy and information architecture, and provide useful ongoing reference points for NSPCC teams. Each persona was also accompanied by an ideal user journey, helping highlight how the NSPCC can guide specific user’s experiences and ensure they find the content they both want and need.

Digital content strategy

We conducted a number of content analysis exercises, including: a content crawl of the existing nspcc.org.uk website, content sampling, readability and accessibility review, and an expert review of content. We used our findings to develop two key deliverables to help the NSPCC sustainably produce content that’s purposeful, profitable and aligns with both organisational and user needs.

A set of content principles, in the form of a guide, sets out a new vision for content and is designed to help creators stay focused on the content they are developing: who it’s for, and why.

A content prism maps the NSPCC’s core story and tone of voice onto the channels they use to communicate, the categories in which they should be producing content, and the digital content personas. It’s a handy reference tool that content creators can use to quickly sense-check their output.

To ensure that the NSPCC’s teams own the content strategy, we ran a session with 50 content producers to go through the outputs and teach them how to put the content prism into action. The session was also made available for anyone in the organisation via video streaming.

Information Architecture

Content aimed at professionals had recently been moved from the main NSPCC website and moved to a new dedicated e-learning platform, NSPCC Learning. The site’s information architecture (IA) reflected the organisation’s complex internal structure, with different teams vying for a place in the navigation. We redesigned the site’s IA from a user-centric perspective, paying close attention to content hierarchy, page layouts and the main navigation menu on both desktop and mobile versions, both to improve user experience and to help remind the wider audience of the NSPCC’s purpose and ambition. We then validated this new IA with both users and against Google search volumes.

Digital benchmarking report

While work had been done already to restructure the NSPCC’s digital team, there was a recognised organisational risk that digital transformation was not happening quickly enough to keep pace with the changing needs of both new and existing supporters; and concerns about falling behind others both in the sector and the wider world. The organisation was keen to assess their digital transformation efforts in a more bespoke way than simply using a pre-existing, one-size-fits-all benchmarking framework.

Manifesto set out to build an understanding of what digital excellence looks like, and how it is achieved across three areas defined by the NSPCC: Externally Facing Digital Engagement; Internally Facing Digital Communications, Culture, Processes and Tools; and Service Delivery Digital Innovation.

We identified eight leading organisations and individuals operating across these three areas, focusing on the charity sector, but also looking at the commercial and public sectors. We talked to them about their own experiences, how they got to where they are and what their future aspirations were. We looked at work being undertaken across the charity sector and also drew from our own experiences (good and bad) as charity and digital veterans.

We then conducted an internal survey with stakeholders throughout NSPCC to assess how the organisation compared, and identified four key enablers that the NSPCC should focus on to embrace and implement Digital. For each theme, we discussed the options and the approaches others have taken, and provided concrete recommendations, all packaged up in an in-depth report.


How it went

Teams at the NSPCC are already putting the new digital content strategy into practice, empowered by the personas we created, as well as the new content principles and prism, to confidently create content that is compelling and relevant, and  meets the needs of users.

Our new IA and site structure will be used to guide and inform ongoing redevelopment of the organisation’s main website which seeks to improve experiences for all users and simplify key journeys.

The digital benchmarking report is being used to accelerate digital transformation at the NSPCC and formulate a new long-term organisational strategy, where digital is woven into organisational aims and objectives that align with the NSPCC’s values.


 “I am delighted with the quality of input and output from the Manifesto team who through proactive collaboration and smart processes learned quickly about our multifunctional teams and priorities and built rapport and confidence. We feel better equipped to deliver compelling relevant effective content that provides value to our different audiences thanks to the quality work we have done together.” – Clive Gardiner, Head of Digital, NSPCC


How this helps us on your project

We are entering an era of unprecedented technological, cultural and political change which is rapidly altering the needs, motivations and behaviours of your key audiences. To keep pace with this change requires an audience-centred approach and an organisation that can adapt quickly. Our experienced researchers and strategists can help you put the audience at the heart of your strategy, giving you the frameworks, processes and tools you need to produce content, campaigns, products and services that deliver for your audience and your business.

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