Meet Team Forward Action: Gar Man, Junior Digital Strategist

Forward Action is made up of hard working, compassionate and dedicated individuals who have come together to work towards a better world with our charity partners. Each month, our Meet the Team series will highlight one of the talented folk that work here, getting to know what they do, what they think about, and what gets them out of bed in the morning.

For this month’s feature, we’re spotlighting our Junior Digital Strategist, Gar Man. Starting out as Strategy Intern, Gar has quickly become absolutely key in the delivery of our projects, and they now help to bring to life the campaigns that drive change for our partners. They’ve become so crucial to our reporting and analytics, that he’s now taking on the brand new role of Analytics & Technology Officer! Keep reading to find out about his hidden musical talents, as well as their favourite charity campaign to date.

What do you do at Forward Action?

In a nutshell, I help with the delivery of projects, which means bringing the ideas from the planning and strategy phases to fruition in the real (well, digital) world. I do a lot of the execution – that could be building Facebook ads or an email welcome series. I also pull results and create weekly and monthly reports for our partners, looking at engagement metrics like the rate of actions taken, and analyse results from tests we’ve designed and run. I’ve been able to do some ad hoc strategy research projects in my time here as well.

What’s been your favourite project to work on and why?

I’ve been here for nine months now, and so far my favourite has been a project on email deliverability that we did with Dignity in Dying to improve the engagement of their supporter email list. We did it in a “sprint” format, which meant our team and partner worked with a lot of focus and momentum to deliver outcomes in a much shorter time frame compared to our usual partner collaboration process. It was cool for me to be able to do research that was quickly used to form a strategy and put into action.

We ran emails through a “spam score” checker which flagged up some technical setup issues such as domain authentication, which were potentially an obstacle to Dignity in Dying’s emails reaching their subscribers’ inboxes. After fixing these, we wrote and ran a reactivation series of emails targeting “inactive” supporters who were less engaged to check if they wanted to keep receiving emails, because that segment was negatively impacting our partner’s email reputation when it came to deliverability.

As a result, we increased the volume and proportion of opted-in supporters who took campaigning actions or made a donation. The email open rate also increased which is an indicative measure of improved deliverability. Through encouraging and re-engaging the inactive group, we kept around 2,000 supporters on the list who otherwise would have been removed from future email sends, and hopefully through this remobilisation we will see them take action again.

What’s the one thing you would change in the world if you could? 

One thing! There are so many things… I would love for everyone’s basic human needs to be taken care of – having warm shelter and enough nutritious food, so they can move beyond surviving and thrive in life. A lot of us take these simple daily necessities for granted (me included), but it’s not a reality for everyone. Yet there is more than enough food to go around and a lot is sadly going to waste. But there are great initiatives out there such as The Real Junk Food Project and the app Olio tackling this issue, and fantastic organisations like our partners Crisis and Shelter supporting people experiencing homelessness.

More generally, I want to live in a world where we lead our lives with more sensitivity and compassion for other beings, with more collaboration and less competition for ego’s sake, a fair distribution of wealth and resources, and where we protect our planet and each other.  We are all human – all we have is each other, and no one person is more important than another.

What’s your favourite charity campaign that you’ve ever seen?

The recent RNLI campaign was spectacular and very moving. They showed such defiance taking a proud and firm stance for their work that didn’t try to please everyone. I really admired how they stood up for themselves, the migrants they rescue, and for what they believe in. It was fantastic and heartwarming to see the amount of support they received and the money raised as a result.

What do you like to do outside of work? Where are we most likely to find you?

Ooh! You’d probably find me in the kitchen a lot to be honest – cooking, baking… I started baking bread a few months ago, it’s quite easy actually! I like trying out new vegan recipes. It relaxes me, it’s a good downtime activity, and I get to eat it afterwards! I enjoy the process of creating with my hands, and the process of devouring what I made even more.

[Interviewer: any specialities?] A good sweet potato chickpea curry is a go-to. And we’re in soup season too. (*makes satisfied noises*)

What’s your hidden talent?

I drum in an Afro-Brazilian samba-reggae band called Batala London. We’re part of a worldwide network with sister bands from France to Mexico that come together for Notting Hill Carnival. I play the repinique, it’s the loudest drum section at the back so you’ll often hear us but not see us! There’s choreography involved too so my mind gets a workout trying to multitask. People wouldn’t expect it from me because I can be quite quiet, whilst our drums are earpluggingly loud. But it’s a way I’ve found to express myself.

What do you like best about working at Forward Action?

It’s the people, definitely. The team is really friendly and supportive of each other. Being surrounded by a bunch of lovely, progressive individuals means I feel comfortable being myself at work which is very important to me. It’s both comforting and motivating to know that I share the same wider goal with my colleagues in wanting to achieve a better world together, through doing meaningful work that has real-world impact.

What’s your favourite piece of work from Forward Action?

Way before I interviewed to work here, I came across the Amnesty International Judges Quiz when a friend shared it on social media. It raises awareness of the injustices women face around the world, through a series of questions about real courtroom situations faced by women where they were clearly being discriminated against by judges. It was shocking and very powerful, and I was giddy when I found out after joining that it had been created right here!

Do you have any advice for someone looking to do what you do?

I worked in transport planning before coming to Forward Action – with the time to reflect in lockdown I realised I wanted to spend my time at work tangibly contributing to making the world a better place to live, but at the time I didn’t have a clear idea of how, or what I wanted to do. I knew I had to take a leap of faith at some point to explore, and while jumping into a whole new field was a bit scary to say the least, it’s what I needed to do and it worked out great for me!

So my advice would be: don’t be afraid to try something completely new or to move industry and start afresh as a beginner (I started here as an intern), if that means you’re getting closer to what it is you want to do. You will bring your own unique and rich set of experiences that will stand you in good stead. In more general terms, just give things a go, and if an opportunity interests you, why not just go for it? There’s nothing to lose and you never know where it will lead you.

We hope you enjoyed hearing from Gar! Click here to read more from the Meet the Team series.