Not-for-Profit | Childhood Cancer Ireland

Marketing not-for-profit organisations can be challenging. You don’t have big brand budgets but arguably your message is more important.

Today we hear about successful podcast strategies used by Childhood Cancer Ireland for engaging their audience, increasing awareness and empowering support.

Our guest Fionnuala Murphy is a Certified Digital Marketing Professional (CDMP) with 20 years experience in the sector. She launched CCI’s hugely successful ‘Gold Ribbon Conversations’ podcast which is now in its seventh season and has won recognition from the Irish Podcast Awards.

Fionnuala shares how she started the ball rolling with one incredibly simple question, where the podcast adds value to the organisation and how she got such powerful and personal stories from guests.


  • How well stories work for brands and organisations
  • Importance of authenticity and connection
  • Utilising existing channels for bigger impact
  • Why consistency wins
  • Measuring success beyond numbers


Fionnuala Murphy has an amazing track record in communications and fundraising in the not-for-profit sector. Her experience spans some of the most well-known organisations including GOAL, National Council for the Blind Ireland and Childhood Cancer Ireland. She is a full member of PRII and a Certified Digital Marketing Professional (CDMP).

Find her on Linkedin:

Listen to the podcast here:


I had this idea. Let’s do a podcast. I didn’t want to be too greedy because we were looking for favours, so I started asking for just one podcast. Luckily, I found our host is Sinead who supported me with all the background stuff as to how to set it up, what platform to use, how to get it out there. My job was is to find the stories, find the guests, and make sure they’re happy sharing their story.
Fionnuala Murphy speaking about how she got started.

It’s really important to us that people are at ease, because we’re asking them to share a very vulnerable time in their lives, be it currently or in the past. They need time to consider it. Time to think about it. Time to think about how they want to frame things and how much they’re willing to share.

Fionnuala Muphy on how she gets more by preparing podcast guests well.

For me, it was very much about the mechanics of it. How am I going to get this across the line? Who can work with us? Who knows what they’re doing? Who can we trust? For somebody else, I would say focus on the content and what is it that you want to say.
Fionnuala Murphy on


If you would like to find out more about how a brand podcast could work for your business visit our website

You’ll find guides on how podcasts work specifically for brands, along with lots more examples of award winning brand podcasts to inspire you. Working with us means you do all the fun stuff, and we do everything else. Find that information on our website 



For your convenience, we include an automated AI transcription

Dusty Rhodes  0:00 

One of the most challenging areas of marketing is charity, where big ideas are rarely matched with big budgets. So in podcasting, how do you take on the best brands in the world, and win? Let’s find out!

Intro 1  0:18 

Worldwide brands are engaging with customers through podcasts. These are the stories behind outstanding brand podcasts, so you can listen, learn and be inspired by the best. These are the Award Winners from Dust

Dusty Rhodes  0:36 

Hi there. My name is Dusty Rhodes and you’re welcome to Award Winners, the secrets behind award winning brand podcasts. Childhood Cancer Ireland provides support for families who have gone through the worst of journeys. The podcast has also been on a journey from humble beginnings to recognition at the Irish Podcast Awards. And it all started with one idea, leading to one question.

Fionnuala Murphy  0:59 

Yeah, I had this idea. Let’s do a podcast. I didn’t want to be too greedy because we were looking for favours and we were looking for people to volunteer their time. So I started asking for one. So luckily, I found our host is Sinead Moore. Sinead really supported me with all the background stuff as to how to set it up, what platform to use, how to get it out there. So my job in all of this just was is to find the stories, find the guests, talk to them, make sure they’re happy sharing their story.

Dusty Rhodes  1:32 

Fionnuala Murphy is Childhood Cancer Ireland’s Communications Manager. She used their Gold Ribbon Conversations podcast to both market the charities work and provide support for families. Over the next few minutes, she’ll share why she wanted to podcast, how it went from zero to hero, and how she measures success. To start, I wanted to know more about the difficulty that Fionnuala  faces when marketing her message.

Fionnuala Murphy  1:59 

The  childhood cancer space is quite fragmented, there’s a number of different charities. So it can be difficult to differentiate yourself. And we do really try. I think all of us in working in space, try not to duplicate what’s been done elsewhere. And we will try and make sure that parents are referred where they need to be referred. So if somebody else is providing something that we don’t, we will make sure that parents are aware of that. And I suppose some of the supports that we offer would be to families who are out of treatment. And that can be quite a difficult message to get across. Thus, a you know, to a family that looks normal in inverted commas and looks well are still struggling and needs support.

Dusty Rhodes  2:39 

So when you’re talking to people and trying to get yourselves known, yeah, I’m presuming using all the usual social channels and social media and and video and stuff like that. Where did you get the idea for a podcast? Or where were you hoping that a podcast would help?

Fionnuala Murphy  2:56 

us because we started this in September 2021. So we were I was preparing for childhood cancer awareness month, which is in September. I love listening to podcasts. So I thought, Is there something we can do as a one off to connect with people? What I love podcasts, I didn’t know anything about creating them or how to go about it. I suppose it in my head, I thought this would be lovely as a series bus. We were a charity working with a small budget, we didn’t know what would be affordable or what was achievable for us. So I really hoped it would sit, you know, in all the other tools that you mentioned in our social media and our other channels as a tool to connect parents to each other, albeit not directly. But to allow those stories that were being shared through the podcast to connect with other parents because there’s an average of 369 children, adolescents and young adults diagnosed every year. So there’s somebody coming to this every week, unfortunately, more than more than one person, you know, coming to this every week for the first time. So I wanted something there to help them feel less alone that they could see that would resonate with them, and that they could listen and kind of be nothing long gone. Yeah, yeah, that sounds familiar.

Dusty Rhodes  4:16 

The stories people share on the podcast are often very personal story is also very powerful, and despite the circumstances can also be very positive. It’s this direct storytelling that makes podcasting so authentic. In this sample, Louise spoke about visiting hospital with her daughter, Leisha.

Speaker 2  4:36 

You know I never forget we were in the waiting room in Qumran waiting to go in. It seems ecologist at one point. It was for a year after she was diagnosed. We were just up there for a checkup, a checkup and there was a baby in a bogey. Obviously, waiting to you know, go through the same procedure to go in and see the doctor Nisha is basically to me and she was so unfair I was like, partition. And she was like, little baby, she, I think she’s like, she’s only three or four like, she’d never get to have a normal life. And, and look at her she’s so cute. And I was like, okay, but we should look at you interested? Yeah, but I had a normal life for 10 years, it’s okay. And she just had this level of empathy.

Dusty Rhodes  5:25 

Sonoda one of the things that I’ve learned about this particular podcast series with the award winners is the importance of story. How important is people’s stories to you, when you’re creating the podcast?

Fionnuala Murphy  5:38 

It’s hugely important, I think it is a such a valuable tool for people to be able to share their story, not just for the listeners, and but for them as individuals to feel ownership over their story to feel that they’re able to advocate if their child’s has passed away to feel that they can share them with the world. And have everybody gets to know who their child was not just about their illness, but what do they like to inquire to the impact they made on the world, all of that, I think is such a powerful tool for the many guests who luckily for us shares are willing to share their stories and trust us with their stories. And from the listeners point of view, that sense of connection is so important, and just feeling like you can resonate with me just one aspect of somebody’s story, it may be multiple aspects of the stories are quite similar. But you know, even if people have the same diagnosis, their experiences would be very different. Because their family experience will be different, where they live, and their commute to the hospital will be different. And you know, there’s so many different elements that impact on their experience.

Dusty Rhodes  6:46 

So for now that you said to yourself, I know what’s going to work really well for us a podcast, and you’re used to listening to them. And you kind of went, Oh, we can do this. What kind of things surprised you when you got into the nitty gritty and you actually discovered what was involved?

Fionnuala Murphy  7:01 

I was lucky, I suppose in last year, I had this idea. Let’s do a podcasts. I didn’t want to be too greedy, because we were looking for favors. And we were looking for people to volunteer their time. So I started asking for one. Can we do a one off? Can we send it out in a newsletter for September? So luckily, I found our host is Sinead amore, who at the time was working on a podcast called every moment the podcasts, and Sinead said, Yeah, I love the sound of that. But I think there’s a series in us. And I said, I think so too, I just didn’t want to be too greedy. So from that Sinead volunteered her time for the first series that we launched, and that was, I think, five episodes in September 2021. And we tried to cover as many aspects as we could, apparently had been bereaved, medical experts, we spoke to a place specialist as well, just to try and give an overall flavor. So in terms of what was surprising, I suppose, look, Sinead really supported me with all the background stuff as to how to set it up, what platform to use, how to get it out there. So you know, that was, we were very lucky to have her support in that because, you know, I wouldn’t have known where to start, really on my own. So my job and all of this was was is to find the stories, find the guests, talk to them, make sure they’re happy sharing their story. And then I pass them over to Sinead, once they’re at ease. And they’ve shared their story with me as kind of a practice run for them to make sure that they’re happy. So it’s very much about is a brain tumor Awareness Month, for example, what contents might we have that would be suitable for that? Or who can? Who can we look for to share their story? And

Dusty Rhodes  8:43 

how did you find it when you were approaching people? Because it’s such a personal thing? And you’re asking people to talk about it in a public forum? Did you find it hard to get people on board? Or did people want to share?

Fionnuala Murphy  8:54 

No, I generally don’t find it hard. And there are times where you approach somebody and, you know, I might know a little bit of their story, but you don’t know all of it. And you don’t know where they’re at right now. And it might not be the right time. And they’ll say no, and I would really rather that somebody said no, rather than went ahead when they weren’t fully comfortable. So there are times where Yeah, it doesn’t work out or it’s not the right time. And that’s absolutely fine. But generally, no, I don’t find it difficult to find guests. Sometimes they approach us, which is, which is great. But most of the time, it’s me approaching them and explaining what it is that we’re trying to achieve. A lot of the time they will have heard the podcast, so they understand where we’re coming from. And I think the format works in that it’s pre recorded. It’s at your leisure, you can pause if the doorbell rings, you know, it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. I think that really helps put people at ease. And you know, I have to give huge credit to our host to Sinead because she really helps to put people at ease. And I suppose you know, I have seen she needs confidence Andy Grove throughout this podcast as well, because she started not having any experience of childhood cancer or of talking to families who had been bereaved.

Dusty Rhodes  10:09 

So, between the two of you, I think another surprise a lot of people get when they are approaching a podcast for the first time is the time that’s involved. What kind of a time commitment? Did you have preparing an episode?

Fionnuala Murphy  10:23 

Yeah, at the time that was involved was probably one thing I didn’t factor in, you think that this is going to be easy, I’ll just find somebody and send them over to Sinead. But there is a lot of work, I suppose I, you know, it’s really important to us that people are at ease, because we’re asking them to share a very vulnerable time in their lives, be it currently or in the past, and they need time to consider it time to think about it time to think about how they want to frame things and how much they’re willing to share. You know, I don’t want people to feel that they need to overshare if there’s things that they prefer. Sometimes, either you’re talking about children, right now, maybe they’re a six year old. But because you’re putting their story out there, they’re going to be a 16 year old. And people will have to think about how do I, you know, tell my child’s story without giving away too much of them. It’s, you know, it’s your story as a parent, but it’s also your child’s story. So sometimes we’ll have people who say, you know, I don’t want to share their diagnosis. And that’s absolutely fine. Because without sounding flippant, it’s not always relevant. It’s the story and the experience that’s relevant. And of course, the diagnosis is hugely relevant, but not for what we’re trying to achieve. Do

Dusty Rhodes  11:41 

you find that getting those stories from people is helping the organization and getting the message out?

Fionnuala Murphy  11:47 

I think it is. Yeah, absolutely. So we will try and cover as a wide range of topics. So medical experts, parents, who are currently going through this parents of survivors, bereaved parents, survivors, themselves, siblings, and all of that, perhaps, to shine a light on what the entire experience is like, not just that phase, that, as I said, that we might be a bit more familiar with love, right in that middle of treatment, when a child has lost her hair and things are really in chaos, it’s, it’s so helpful for our family to hear that afterwards, they were still struggling, it’s so helpful for another family to hear that experience that, oh, I’m not losing my money. And it’s not just us, or their people go through this. And what we have heard from listeners is that it’s a trusted source of information. So they know that there’s nothing shared that’s, you know, like going down a Google rabbit hole of talking about different treatments or anything like that, you know, we wouldn’t do that it’s very much about an individual or family’s experience. And then if we have medical experts on, again, it’s not about talking about treatment, per se, it’s, it’s helpful. Sometimes it’s about their experience in this, as you know, maybe an oncologist saying, Yeah, you know, I take these experiences home with me, I don’t just forget about it when I walk out the door. And it’s so helpful for families to understand that the person who’s looking after them, is treating them like family, you know, is really has them at hearts, and you know, it takes them with them. And no matter what the outcome is,

Dusty Rhodes  13:24 

as a matter of interest, did you record the interviews remotely? Or did you do them face to face?

Fionnuala Murphy  13:30 

No, they’ve all been done remotely. We started that way. Because when we started, I suppose was still just post COVID. It was September 2021. Sinead was also I suppose volunteering her time, at that at the time she was on maternity leave, you know, we are all I suppose working parents trying to. So I completely understand where people are coming from when we try and be as flexible as possible with our guests. So that means that they can record on the Saturday or in the evening, we do that. And yet we’ve never moved to face to face, because we have guests coming from all over. It really puts people at ease. They don’t have to, to leave their house, they don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to park or worrying about Google Maps or any of that they can just find a quiet space, which can be hard enough at times as well. But find a quiet space. And you know, I say to people, make sure it’s at a time where you’re not gonna be looking at the clock, you’re not rushing out for a school collection. Because that’s going to be on your mind. Just give yourself the time to have this conversation. And obviously the the video will record the video as well just so that the guest and Sinead can see each other and have a proper conversation but we don’t release the video we haven’t. Yes, done those clips where you can see part of the recording because I don’t want people to feel under pressure.

Dusty Rhodes  14:55 

Still to gum Fionnula shares the myriad of media and methods which you employed to see Cecily promote each episode has she built her audience and how she measures her success.

Speaker 1  15:07 

If you feel a brand podcast work for you, here are three simple things you can do today to get started. One, this is your website to get more information and guides on how podcasts work specifically for brands, along with lots more examples of award winning brand podcasts to inspire you to, you can call us with your questions, and we’re happy to help. Three, you could consider working with us. So you do all the fun stuff. And we do everything else. Find that information on our website as dust

Dusty Rhodes  15:46 

So for Nullah, you’ve got the podcast idea you’ve gotten together with your presenter, you’ve got some episodes, you’re ready to go to the world. And loudly proclaim that you have a podcast, how did you tell the world about it?

Fionnuala Murphy  16:01 

I suppose our main channels or social media or websites, we have a monthly newsletter. Social media would be the biggest, biggest platform, I suppose that we use to tell people about the podcast. And so we would release an audio clip on the day that the podcast comes out. And then I might try and do some engagement around it. Depending on on the topic, you know, have you experienced this. So put some questions out on social media. And that works quite well, people respond quite well to that, and share with us what has resonated with them in a particular episode or something that they might not have felt comfortable talking about. So just for an example, we had an episode two, three weeks ago with a financial adviser who was also a parent of a child who’s had cancer. And the topic of finances, one that’s quite difficult for people to talk about. But it’s something that almost every family struggles with during treatment. So in speaking to our financial advisor, you know, she was able to give some of that perspective, but also say, as a parent, I struggled with this too. So we were able to put out some questions during that episode, you know, is is finance a difficult topic for you to talk about? Did you struggle financially? How long did it take to recover after, you know, treatment had ended? So those kinds of questions help people to engage in a way that they’re not able to maybe otherwise. But it does work quite well. And even for a bereavement episode, you know, to say, what, what helped you with that episode? Why is it helpful to hear these kinds of stories? Is it difficult to talk about your grief, it’s just giving people the freedom to respond. And it can be anonymously, you know, I share the responses anonymously, but it just gives them an outlet to say, Yeah, this is really difficult. And, you know, to let people know with us,

Dusty Rhodes  17:48 

can you tell me a little bit about your experience in building an audience because you have initial burst when you when you come onto the scene, and then kind of things get a bit of a normal and then things grow? How did things go for you?

Fionnuala Murphy  18:02 

This was childhood cancer is, is a rare disease in Ireland. So this was always going to be a niche podcast. It’s it’s not something that everybody will want to listen to our needs to listen to. And we understand that and we’re very happy if it reaches a core audience, I suppose of families and survivors who are impacted by this. Even within that people will not want to listen to certain episodes. They just can’t, they’re not emotionally ready. That’s the reason I find the podcast, a really appropriate forum for communicating with people because it’s not in your face. You can see even read what it’s about. And you can decide no, that’s not for me right now. Maybe it will be in six months time. But right now, I’m not able for that, and you’re not confronted with it unless you actively go in and choose to listen.

Dusty Rhodes  18:48 

One thing a lot of podcasters talk about is pod fade where it kind of you get the first four or 567 shows Dawn and then it kind of hits a little lull. How did you get through that? And how did things work afterwards? Yeah,

Fionnuala Murphy  19:00 

well, I suppose at the start, we released episodes in September 2021. And then we didn’t do anything until the following September, I think. So we weren’t sure how we were going to proceed. What kind of budgets did we have, at the time, childhood cancer, Ireland didn’t have any staff, we were working on a voluntary basis. So it was just really difficult to be consistent, and to come up with a plan. But you know, things have changed for the charity since then we’re growing. So we were able to put more resources into us and to make sure that we had budgets to allow the podcast to grow. And we were able to apply for some grants and different funding to make sure that we could run it. So what we did then the following year was relief seasons. So we had four seasons throughout the year of five episodes each. And we’ve changed that this year. We go out every two weeks roughly we’ll take a break over the summer. The idea being as I said earlier, people families are coming to this unfortunately every Week. So the podcast is there as more consistent option for them, I suppose if they’re looking for support, you know, if they’ve just been diagnosed and they’re like off, where do I go? But yeah, the numbers and the listeners, I suppose certainly, yeah, we did experience that lag, I suppose. Because essentially the way we started, we were starting again. So we had released episodes, but there was no consistency. It wasn’t in people’s mind, oh, this is going to come out. So essentially, we were starting again the second time, but from there, I think numbers have been relatively consistent, they certainly go up and down. And I can probably predict which episodes are going to be more popular or not, but they have been remained relatively consistent. You know, we love listeners, we love parents who say I listen to every single episode, I can’t get enough of it. And, and others who will dip in and out, as I said, depending on the topic, and what’s, you know, what resonates with them. And sometimes it’s down to how much time I have to be able to promote it on social media. And if I haven’t been as consistent with this, you will see a correlation in the numbers. Outside

Dusty Rhodes  21:07 

of the numbers, do you have any other way in your mind that you measure the success of the podcast?

Fionnuala Murphy  21:15 

That I suppose I measure it, even more than the numbers on the comments that we get from people. And it’s not always written, sometimes it can be in conversation that will come up. And we run focus groups with parents as well, to just make sure they have an avenue to inform the work that we’re doing. And it will come up a lot at that, at those kind of groupings, where people say, yeah, it’s, you know, it was great to have an avenue that I could find stories like mine.

Dusty Rhodes  21:49 

What kind of future plans do you have for the podcast?

Fionnuala Murphy  21:53 

So we’re always looking at what is there anything that we haven’t covered finance was one that we really wanted to cover this year, for example, to try and, you know, initially, it was to try and get a financial expert on, I don’t want it to turn into a webinar or you know, or two instructional. So future plans. If we can keep going with an episode every two weeks, that would be fantastic. We would love to grow the audience and grow the number of people who are hearing about us who are aware of us whether they listened to every episode, or not as long as they know that it’s there. And just keep calling with as wide range of guests as we can to cover all kinds of topics. We have an episode coming up in a couple of weeks with Laurel in their children’s hospice. So we try and talk to other charities as well. And their assistant director of nursing came on. So can we try and look at the calendar and see what’s coming up? And can we match the contents to that?

Dusty Rhodes  22:49 

Just to wrap up Flula? Can I ask for anybody else is working in the same field as yourself in a charity or in a kind of a voluntary organization or anybody who’s working as a commercial marketer even? What advice would you have to anybody who is starting a podcast and wants to make an impact?

Fionnuala Murphy  23:08 

I think as you just said, there, it really is all about the stories. I knew, I suppose, going into this that we had, we would always have stories on fun. Fortunately, for the families that we’re working with, you know, there will always be stories there to tell. So for me, it was very much about the mechanics of it, how am I going to get this across the line? Who can work with us? Who knows what they’re doing? Who can we trust? So for somebody else, I would say focus on on the content, what is it that you want to say and who is at your disposal? But I suppose to say that and don’t there might there might be people outside of the box, such if you’re thinking outside the box that could fit that profile? I think once you get going and you start having a conversation, as you said, there are people who are on the outskirts of us who have a lot to say as well.

Dusty Rhodes  24:00 

Fionnuala Murphy, I can’t thank you enough for telling us about your podcast and I wish you every continued success with Gold Ribbon Conversations. Thank you.

Fionnuala Murphy  24:08 

Thank you very much.

Dusty Rhodes  24:12 

You can check out the podcast for yourself by searching for Gold Ribbon Conversations in your podcast app. There’s also direct link in the description area of this podcast on your player right now. And remember, if you’re considering a podcast for your company, or brand or organization, you’ll find some great resources on our website at

You also schedule a call to chat about how podcasts could work for your brand specifically, or you could consider working with us yourself, so you do the fun stuff and we do everything else.

Until our next Award Winners podcast from myself Dusty Rhodes, thank you for listening.

Speaker 1  24:42 

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