Lumin: the next phase

06 March 2020
Today we’re making Lumin free: here’s why.

I launched Lumin two years ago — on International Women’s Day 2018.

Lumin is an online training website, with an ever-growing library of courses teaching everything there is to know about marketing, communications, media and messaging.

Today, we’re pulling the trigger on the next phase of growing Lumin, and the first big change is that we’re taking down the paywall.

Until now, users have paid an annual subscription to access Lumin courses, but now accounts are free. You can sign up right now and start doing courses.

Pretty big deal, right? Well for the team and I, this step is a no-brainer.

Lumin is powered by Think HQ, the agency I founded to work solely, unapologetically on projects that create social good. We started in PR and have grown to be full service. The work we do is best-in-class and that costs real money, so we invented Lumin. It’s for the players in the social change space — like charities, non-profits and sole traders in social enterprise — who don’t have the resources to hire an agency, but vitally need to communicate.

At Lumin, Think HQ’s experts share their knowledge through video courses and training products, to build users’ capacity to do their own marketing and messaging — to create their own best-in-class communications.

We know communications is a vital, oft-overlooked part of working in social change. You can’t change the world in the dark — you need to communicate, brand and market yourself. Not for attention, accolades or awards, but because you need stakeholders, supporters and the public to understand you and your mission. Communications is the best tool to unlock access to support, funding, volunteers and staff. Ultimately, it’s the key to creating a sustainable organisation.

Members of the Lumin community love it — they get the value and come away richer for the experience, but we want to help more.

"Lumin has taught me so much about telling my story and engaging stakeholders in my project,” says Gabriele Rukas from the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria. “The courses and downloadable resources have been invaluable, and the team has been generous with their knowledge and time. Everyone should be using Lumin to get their marketing to the next level."

What’s been really exciting, and surprising, is the way people have been using the platform. Increasingly we’re seeing organisations use the online training as the base level of a tailored training program, engaging Lumin educators to provide webinars, training sessions and consultancy services to make a big, targeted impact.

That’s the ultimate expression of what we want Lumin to be, so we’re leaning in. The courses are now free for everyone, and we will keep building our offering for tailored training packages for operators of all shapes and sizes.

It’s an idea that’s been simmering for a while, but this summer’s bushfire emergency has been a catalyst. Something of that scale puts a level of stress on our systems in a way that exposes the cracks and gaps, and it drove home for me how vital good communications is at every level to ensure our society functions.

It’s vital at the top, with fire chiefs and governments issuing updates, warnings and assurances to keep people safe.

It’s just as vital on the ground, with communities getting timely updates so they can prepare, respond and bounce back quickly.

And it doesn’t drop off when the emergency is over. Charities need to keep communicating about where funds have been raised and how they’re being used. If donors feel uninformed, all the goodwill and support they’ve gathered can curdle into resentment.

It’s vital for everyone. We think of multicultural communications and inclusion as a metropolitan concern, but every community is richly diverse, and that means that without mindfully targeted and translated messages, we’re locking people out of the public conversation. In a bushfire, that’s life-threatening.

In my hometown of Wangaratta, 80% of women over 50 don’t know how to use the internet — at a time when more and more vital messages are delivered online. I only learned that on a recent visit back there to give a talk. The idea that, despite growing up there, I’d lost sight of that reality, drove home to me, again, how important it is to understand our audiences, prioritise empathetic communication, and look out for each other.

So, for charities, non-profits and social enterprises, getting your marketing right isn’t just about fundraising or grant applications. These are the foundational skills that ensure everyone in our community stays connected, represented and understood.

So we’re making it easier to get started quickly, and we’re committing to running more events and providing learning opportunities tailored to the sector we love.

Another symptom of underservicing of communications in NFP land is that the amazing work being done there often goes unseen. We’re excited to use Lumin as a place to celebrate some of that excellence — starting today with our interview spotlighting Rikki Morgan and her excellent work as Communications Officer — Research at SANE Australia.

And we launched a new Lumin course this week, an introduction to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communications, delivered by Jess and Loc from our multicultural communications arm CultureVerse. You can watch it right now. For free.


Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Jen Sharpe
Founder and Managing Director