Giving back in 2021-22

March 28, 2022

Since I dived into the freelance world full-time in 2021, it's been part of my mission to help make a positive difference to our planet through my PR and copywriting services. As well as working with organisations that are dedicated to protecting our ocean or having a positive impact on the world, I've also tried to make sure I'm also giving back in other ways.

As we wrap up the tax year (which is the timeframe I use to track my business' impact), I wanted to reflect on the little actions I've taken this year and whether they've added up in the way I wanted. I hope you enjoy this April '21 to March '22 recap...

Giving back... by supporting clients that match my ethos

In 2021-22, I worked with over 25 wonderful clients including: Guide Dogs, Madagascar Whale Shark Project, South Tyneside Council, Original Travel, Blue Cactus Digital, Confident Tiger, Six to Start, Huckletree, Sustainably Run, Ducky Zebra, Madagascar Film & Photography and Another World Adventures.

This included some brilliant PR agencies with for-purpose, sustainability and charity projects, including Barley Communications, Popcorn PR, Fox + Hare, Frame PR and North PR.

And the articles and blogs I wrote for National Geographic, Independent, Brecon Beacons, Fodor's, Sidetracked, Inkcap Journal, Scuba Diving magazine and Journalists Action Network (Footprint).

It's so lovely to be able to work with clients and on projects that align with my ethos and passions. Here's to more of that in the coming year too - if you're in the (marine) conservation or for-purpose space and need PR strategy, messaging or copywriting support, I'd love to hear from you!

Giving back... through my time

I also donated 7.5 days of my time in total supporting some great causes through pro bono consultancy, volunteering and citizen science:

I was aiming to give at least five days of my time to good causes so I'm pleased to have exceeded that target by an additional two and a half days!

I also announced my formalised pro bono process and lead times to help me streamline requests. Do check it out if you're a small charity that's after some support.

Giving back... through donations

I made a policy in 2021-22 to adopt a marine animal for every new client I worked with. I also made ad hoc donations to a few causes that are important to me. As a result, during the year I donated to the following 13 amazing charities:

I was hoping to be able to donate 1% of my revenue to good causes. I'm delighted to have (very slightly) exceeded this target (1.1% but I'll take it!).

This included 13 animals adopted on behalf of my clients. Those were: three humpback whales, three manta rays, three whale sharks, three basking sharks AND a guide dog puppy!

I'll be updating my charitable donation policy for the coming year. Keep your eyes peeled for an exciting update soon!

Side note: It's not a donation but I've also been aware of where I invest my money. As such, I transferred my pension to Pensionbee’s fossil-free, tobacco-free and arms-free plan. Caveat: I may move this again soon as I'm not happy that this fund excludes 'controversial arms' but not all weapons.

Giving back... by planting trees

I also tried to do my bit by planting some trees. I use Treeapp to plant a tree every day (well, as long as I remembered!). From June 2021 (when I joined the app) to March 2022, I planted 299 trees.

I'm also a member of the Ecologi Climate Committee. In exchange for my counsel at the monthly committee meeting, I get some sweet, sweet trees planted on my behalf. I've also 'bought' a few extra. Between joining Ecologi in July 2021 and the end of March 2022, I had 748 trees in my Ecologi forest.

And, lastly, you may already be aware that my default internet browser is Ecosia: the search engine that plants trees. During the year (2021-22), I made over 8,000 searches. Based on a tree being planted for every 45 searches, this equates to roughly 178 trees planted during the year.

Woop - that makes 1,225 trees planted!

Giving back... through my website

This year was the year I realised that my website and online habits have an impact too - so I made some changes. I had a major email clearout and deleted thousands of old messages that had been sitting there quietly after being filed away. This will have a big impact on my carbon footprint (although I'm afraid I don't have specific numbers).

I also switched to a green hosting provider (Green Hosting) which uses renewable energy from North Sea wind farms and has an energy efficient London data centre. Once that was done, I've made tweaks and deleted a lot of unecessary images. These changes have moved my website's carbon footprint from ‘bad’ to ‘great’ according to Beacon. I'm still not happy with that (website tweaks took more of a backseat than I would have hoped when things got busy) and I'm hoping to be able to make further improvements soon.

Giving back... by pledging support and signing petitions

It's important to me that I show my support by adding my voice to causes that I care about. From 2021-22, I joined Ecologi's Climate Committee, became a member of the ethical move movement for transparent, ethical comms and siged the Clean Creatives pledge against working with fossil fuel companies. I also signed the Sustainable Web Manifesto, wrote to my MP (twice) and signed 15 petitions and open letters about causes important to me.

Giving back... by getting stuck in

It wasn't all desk-based fun either. Over the year, I took time out of my working day to give blood (twice), joined two climate marches (at COP26 in November), took part in the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean and certified as a British Divers Marine Life Recue marine mammal medic (where I learned how to respond to stranded cetaceans and injured seals). OK, the last one hasn't been so useful while landlocked but I'm hoping to put it into practice soon when I move to the coast!

Giving back... by sharing my expertise

I was excited and terrified in equal parts to share my expertise on the Where Ideas Launch podcast and on a Facebook Live for the Being Freelance community. I'd love to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone in this way in 2022 so get in touch if you'd like me to speak on your podcast!

Giving back... by making better choices

Given that I work from home most of the time, making responsible travel choices is (usually) quite easy as I have no commute to speak of unless you count my daily walk to the gym (I did used to drive more often but now I carve out the time to walk: it's about 40 minutes each way).

When I did have meetings, I chose to travel by train instead of plane or car wherever possible. On the couple of occasions that I did drive, I added a few extra trees to my Ecologi forest to offset the journey. I realised, though, that I could have carpooled with someone so will consider that for future journeys.

I also played my part by joining the circular economy through Olio and Too Good to Go.

Giving back... by improving my policies

OK, so this is all great and I'm proud of what I've achieved in the last year. BUT that's no reason to rest on my laurels; there is still much to do. I'm currently reviewing my policies and thinking about how I can improve the ways I give back through my business. Watch this space for some exciting updates soon!

Ready to chat?

Hello!

Great to hear you're interested in working together - I'm always keen to hear about exciting new stories from marine conservationists, potential commissions from editors and suitable briefs from prospective clients.

So, let's chat. You can send me an email (I aim to respond within three working days, usually sooner) or book a call below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Melissa holding a ginger cat and standing on a wooden balcony with the blue ocena behind her

Please note: due to high demand, I often have a wait time for new clients and cannot guarantee last-minute availability.

As such, please give as much notice as possible for your projects. Thank you!

Or book a call:

I do not work with the fossil fuel industry. If that's you, please look for support elsewhere. Thank you.

The Ocean Writer Ltd. Registered company number: 14772669

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I support Project Seagrass by donating 1% of every cleared payment from my services via Work for Good

N.B. I do not work with the fossil fuel industry. If that's you, please look for support elsewhere. Thank you.

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