Creative Collaboration for Voluntary Organisations

If you are looking for new ways to promote your voluntary organisation, the concept of creative collaboration can provide a solution. It allows your message to reach a wider audience.

‘When you get goosebumps and tingles run up your spine, you know there is something special happening.’ said Rosie Barfoot, who had designed a unique collaborative event. This was to promote the Phoenix Legacy, a voluntary organisation she had founded and two of it’s Activity Providers, Casterbridge Speakers and Dorset Writer’s Network. The aim was to encourage people over 50 to try something new.


It was a very atmospheric event at Max Gate, home of Thomas Hardy, on the edge of Dorchester. Entitled ‘Celebrating Hardy’s Dorset’, it combined reading from his famous literary works and the sharing of ghost stories about the house. Three members of Casterbridge Speakers, completing their advanced speeches, read selected works of Thomas Hardy; in his living room with his picture looking down from the mantelpiece.

‘You could almost feel his presence inspiring the readers’ performance’ said Mary Chisholm, one of the speech evaluators. The audience was made up primarily of non-club members and included authors and the Mayor of Dorchester. The best reader (as voted by the audience) was Linda Parkinson-Hardman with her interpretation of Chapter Two of ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’.

The supernatural feel was continued by seven finalists of the creative ‘flash fiction’ competition on the theme of ‘Ghosts of Max Gate’. This had been organised by Dorset Writer’s Network. The authors read their stunning short stories of just 300 words to three judges and audience in the evening glow of lamplight. Some themes were amusing and others were very emotive.


The benefits of collaboration are that the workload of organising and marketing  the event can be shared and different perspectives brought in. It allows cross-fertilisation of learning. The writers had to read their stories out and could be potential new members for Toastmasters to hone this skill. The ability to get a wonderful story across in just 300 words requires a great aptitude to make every word count and is something  Toastmasters can learn from.

Mutual benefits were gained for all those involved; including greater publicity. Being different brought sponsorship and greater media attention. This makes marketing much easier.


  1. Think outside the box
  2. Work with other organisations for mutual benefit
  3. Have the courage to be different
  4. Use your local media to good effect
  5. Be proud of your success and tell your story



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