Jonathan Gilbert founded a fantastic digital marketing and communications agency called SM4G which provides mentoring support for small businesses and charities. Jonathan started working with RETAS as a result of funding from the Enable Grant from Lloyds Bank Foundation, which allowed him to be contracted through Good Things Foundation. He supported us with a range of improvements including increased presence on social media as well as redesigning our website.
This blog is a reflection on his time working with RETAS and the continuation of this working relationship.
How have you found working with RETAS throughout the support you have provided?
RETAS have been an absolute joy to work with! From day one I’ve been totally bowled over by the enthusiasm and commitment of the team. I remember Roger’s initial excitement in my very first telephone call with him, it was infectious.
We’ve worked with literally hundreds of charities over the last 5 years and always enjoy the experience but with RETAS we’ve felt an added level of engagement and connection, something this is magical and organic and is often just not present however hard you try.
I’ve also found that RETAS are an uber friendly organization, very welcoming and social. It’s interesting that we’re still in touch with many former RETAS colleagues – that’s testament to the ethos and culture that Roger and others have created. Friends for life? We think and hope so!
What is the most interesting thing that you learned about the work that we do and the sector we work in?
Prior to working with RETAS we only had a basic understanding of the contemporary life of refugees living in the UK, so we’d have to say you’ve illuminated this for us in many ways. We love the practical focus of the organization that highlights the very real challenges people face but, also, how a friendly experienced charity can assist and make a different. RETAS is an ardent campaigner for refugee rights but doesn’t preach, it gets the balance just right in our book.
What has been the biggest challenge in working with RETAS?
Probably the one that is common to most small charities – a lack of staff time to develop online profile, communications and marketing. Until Georgia was recruited, we struggled to make significant progress – every charity needs at least one Georgia!
What has been your highlight of working with RETAS?
There really have been many, but I’m going to pick two. Firstly, the experience of helping the charity to create a new website. Whilst never a straightforward process, we succeeded in transforming an unloved, unused and outdated website to a dynamic site delivering great engagement. I was generally moved by the glowing positivity of the charity’s Trustees at seeing the new site for the first time – I will always remember those hugs and handshakes. Secondly the creation of what I sincerely hope are lifelong relationships and friendships.
What hopes do you have for RETAS-SM4G relationship going forwards?
I’m extremely positive about our future relationship and I’m sure it will continue to develop. One area of collaboration is around the emerging peer learning and support network that is Digital Communities Network. RETAS’s commitment as an active DCN partner is testament to the strength and depth of our relationships. I’m really excited what we can do with DCN together, to share our joint passion for helping small charities to develop their online profile, social media campaigning and lots of other fab stuff besides.