In conversation with

Charlotte Matier and Jude Escribano

Communications at Action Against Hunger



A few months ago we wrote a newsletter called Does Sad Sell, diving into comms in the non-profits sector. The TL;DR? Sadvertising is outdated and there are much better ways to spur support.

Earlier this year we worked with Action Against Hunger, an organisation working to tackle the causes and effects of hunger globally. We helped define its tone of voice – and of course, we made sure to create one that steered well clear of overly emotive tropes and instead leaned into action-inspiring language.

In this interview, we catch up with Director of Fundraising and Communications Charlotte Matier and Assistant Director of Comms Jude Escribano on the brands that they love for their tones of voice, the challenges of being a global charity organisation and AAH’s highlights of the year.

Question and Answer

What were your experiences before Action Against Hunger, and how are those experiences feeding into your work today?

JE: I have worked in communications in international development for over 25 years, at a range of leading NGOs, including Christian Aid, Islamic Relief and ActionAid. When I was the Head of Comms at Age International (which was founded in 2012), I worked very closely with the marketing team of Age UK (of which Age International was a member) to develop its brand guidelines. My comms team and I managed to take Age International from a brand awareness of zero to 19% prompted awareness within five years, despite having no marketing budget! There’s an interesting comparison between Age International and Action Against Hunger because they are both single issue charities within the international development sector (older people in the case of Age International and life-threatening hunger in the case of Action Against Hunger).

CM: The simplicity of the message attracted me as a ‘consumer’. And the courage not to overcomplicate the message at the entry point. Like any social issue, hunger has a number of intersectional causes but the solutions are often simple and Action Against Hunger had a succinct message on its various channels which I liked. I also loved that Action Against Hunger celebrates food and the joy it brings. We don’t just focus on the lack of it but the sense of togetherness and identity and life giving strength food gives us all. That’s something we can all connect with.

When you came to us with your tone of voice brief, what were you hoping to achieve?

JE: We wanted Sonder & Tell to help us develop a descriptor and a mission statement for us, because the ones we had were jargony and not particularly inspiring. We also wanted S&T to help us think about the tone of voice we wished to present to our current supporters and future supporters. We knew from some market research that the vast majority of our supporters felt that tackling hunger and malnutrition was the biggest motivator for their support of the international development sector. And we also knew that a third of our supporters also supported other generalist international development agencies. So we wanted to stand out in a crowded market.

CM: As Jude says – cut through. We know it is a crowded market, with some of the biggest names and brands in the charity sector. So as a smaller organisation, we needed to have a stronger identity that came through in how we talked, and we needed to be consistent across all our channels internally and externally, and give us maximum bang for our buck! I also saw from our current supporters that they feel like family and many are extremely loyal to the organisation. It made sense to carry that sense of belonging that supporters feel into a tone of voice that they felt echoed their passion and energy for our work.

“As a smaller organisation, we needed to have a stronger identity that came through in how we talked, and we needed to be consistent across all our channels internally and externally.”

Part of the tone of voice project involved us leading a workshop to help embed the new voice within the team. How has that training been useful, both in terms of customer facing comms and internally?

JE: The training has been very useful in terms of helping colleagues to understand why we commissioned the work; and how they could use the tone of voice guidelines in order to communicate with our target audiences. We felt that if we just provided the guidelines without delivering training as well, some people would not absorb the information as well. As someone who has to sign off a lot of content produced in Action Against Hunger, I can tell that the training has helped people to understand how to communicate with our supporters – whether that be in an email, a newsletter, a web article or a social media post.

What are some brands you love for their tone of voice outside of the non-profits sector?

JE: I like the simplicity of how PoliticsJOE communicates; the humour with which Specsavers communicates; and the passion with which LedByDonkeys communicates.

CM: I love the simple but evocative tone of voice that Gail’s Bakery has brought in (I may or may not be their most loyal customer… even given a staff apron when I went on mat leave as they were going to miss my custom!)

I also love what Dead Happy have done to shake up the very staid life insurance market.

DeadHappy Instagram

Other than tone of voice, what are some comms challenges charity sectors face and how are you working against them?

JE: I think the main comms challenge that the charity sector faces is that we try to communicate externally with the same tone and language as we communicate internally, and that doesn’t work well with the people we’re trying to reach. In a 24 hour news and social media world, we need to speak in terms that people understand easily and swiftly. People have shorter and shorter attention spans nowadays and that’s not going to stop in future. So we need to engage people within seconds; get to the root of a story, rather than padding out with context and trying to say it all. People don’t want to know it all. We have to give people what they want, not what we want.

Action Against Hunger operates all around the world, from France to India to Canada. What are some challenges of being a global organisation?

CM: The markets we work in are so varied it can sometimes be hard to find a common voice. A voice that works for one location might not be right for another. But our core mission is always the same.

We’re halfway through the year. What have been some Action Against Hunger highlights?

CM: We’ve launched a really exciting new digital innovation called the SAM Photo App, which helps to detect severe acute malnutrition.

JE: I’d say one of the highlights was working with Sonder & Tell to develop a new descriptor, a new mission statement and new tone of voice guidelines! I believe these will help us to engage and inspire more people.

We’ve been shortlisted for two Third Sector Awards – the Digital Innovation category for our SAM photo app and the Celebrity Ambassador, for the work that the chef Angela Hartnett does to support Action Against Hunger. We’re looking forward to hearing whether we win either of those in September.

I’m particularly pleased with the work my Creative Content Manager has done in communicating to our supporters and our colleagues in more engaging ways. She’s produced an animated video to summarise the work of the global network, rather than a 100-page printed report, which was produced in the past. Research showed us that people didn’t use the report but have welcomed the video. She also produced an interactive story on the Holoscribe platform to share information about what we do overseas – we already know that people spend more time on this platform than they do on the website. I’m hoping that these more innovative ways of communicating with our supporters and stakeholders will mean that they engage more with our messaging and our brand.

Charlotte & Jude's Storylist


  1. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
  2. Rare Breedand by Ashleigh Hansberger and Sunny Bonnell
  3. Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed


  1. High Performance Podcast
  2. Work Life
  3. The Rest is Politics
  4. On Strategy Showcase

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