A chat I started on LinkedIn and in my Third Sector Geeks WhatsApp group has grown in to a really useful must-read list of books covering digital, service design, strategy, social media and more. Please leave your own suggestions in the LinkedIn comments below.
Charities from across the UK have been invited to contribute to the UK’s first Charity Digital Code of Practice which is due to launch in November this year. The code, which will aim to help charities improve their digital skills and increase their take up of digital activity, is being funded by Lloyds Banking Group and the Co-op Foundation. It will be voluntary and free to access and the steering group is keen to hear from charities of all sizes as part of the consultation.
The Charity Digital Code of Practice will be relevant for all charities and it’s hoped will benefit those with limited capacity for digital engagement. It will include best practice guidelines as well as practical tips and advice and will aim to increase digital motivation and confidence in activities including fundraising and engaging with stakeholders.
I’m pleased to see that the Code’s steering group is chaired by the incredibly capable Zoe Amar and we have Scottish input from Sally Dyson at SCVO.
“Applying the culture, practices, processes & technologies of the Internet era to respond to people’s raised expectations”.
The Co-op’s definition of digital, above, will underpin the Code and it shows how digital has evolved beyond channels (e.g. social media or websites) to a mindset, reflecting how it is forming people’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. If your charity is small, or you are new to digital, a good starting point here is to see it as a set of tools to help you be even more effective and increase impact, and to learn from how beneficiaries and other supporters are using these channels.
The consultation closes 25 September 2018.
The DigitalAgenda Impact Awards celebrate digital innovations that improve people’s lives and the world around us. Their 2018 winners have just been revealed and there’s four tech-for-social-good innovations that really stood out for me. If you’re a charity taking your first steps on your digital maturity journey take note:
I love the clarity of SH:24. Unlike many public health digital tools it’s not trying to do too much. The focus is on free and confidential STI testing that you can access 24 hours a day. They test for Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis & HIV. Delivering services online means the NHS is able to release capacity and money, while giving people access to testing in a discreet way that suits them. It would be amazing to see this service rolled out across the rest of the UK.
As we see more social housing providers delve in to the Internet of Things I’m pleased to see simpler, off the shelf technology emerging. Switchee is a smart connected thermostat designed to help affordable housing providers fight fuel poverty. For housing associations and other social landlords Switchee gives them tools and information to make better asset management decisions – moving from reactive to preventative service programmes.
The TalkLife founders created a safe social network to get help and give help – a community where you can always feel welcome and know that someone is here for you. Literally, thousands of people are always on TalkLife – at any time — just waiting to listen. Given that, for the average app, 77% of users never use the app again 72 hours after installing, it will be interesting to see how TalkLife takes offs. I’d love to see more charities building this type of support in to their usage of mainstream social media channels – in particular Whatsapp, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger.
In their journey of interrupted lives, unfinished studies and integration challenges, many asylum seekers and refugees yearn to update their tech skills, but lack learning opportunities. Code your Future want to change this. Last year they launched the first cohort of their 6-month web development programme, coached by a group of professional developers. Today they are running new classes in London and Glasgow, with plans to expand to other regions and cities. I want to see more organisations tackling digital inclusion in this way – being truly aspirational for some of the most marginalised groups in our society.
Which of the DigitalAgenda Impact Awards 2018 winners stood out for you? Leave a comment below or tweet me your favourites and I’ll RT them.
I’ve worked as part of an incredible charity for almost ten years. I started out with Relationships Scotland as Development Manager back in 2007, became Digital Media Manager in 2010 and then landed the role of Head of Communications in 2013. The Head of Comms role was 14hrs per week and budget was limited… very limited.
Despite that, with the support of great staff, we managed to achieve an incredible amount – running successful campaigns both online and offline. The charity is front and centre when it comes to the big debates around reforming the family law system. The need for stronger relationship support services within Scotland is now on the political agenda in a way that it wasn’t before.
While I was working 14hrs per week as Head of Comms I was still spending the other half of my week with charities, social enterprises and communities groups across Scotland to help them get the most out of digital. In the last twelve months I’ve helped major funders up-skill grant holders to get digitally confident, I’ve given a range of charities beautiful, accessible websites they can be proud of, I’ve run a third sector digital senior leaders programme for SCVO and I’ve trained thousands of charity staff in digital and social media skills. This is something I’ve been doing since 2008. This is what I’m passionate about. From now on this is what I’ll be focused on full-time.
This is something I’ve been doing since 2008. This is what I’m passionate about. From now on this is what I’ll be focused on full-time.
I took the difficult decision to quit a senior role for a charity I love because I’m convinced these next few years are going to be critical for Scotland’s third sector and digital is going to be key. With ever-shrinking budgets and changed public expectations we can no longer ignore the potential offered by digital as way of delivering services, collaborating with our users, better understanding societal need and raising much needed funds. I want to make sure I have the time to be part of some of the amazing work going on across Scotland to get the third sector digitally confident.
At Third Sector Lab and Be Good Be Social I’m now working alongside a range of people to make this stuff happen – designers, developers, multimedia storytellers, animators, SEO & Google Adwords Grants experts, digital skills trainers and social media strategists. We’ve worked with a wide range of organisations, including Cosgrove Care, The RS MacDonald Charitable Trust, Big Lottery Fund, ACOSVO, SCVO, GCVS, The Alliance, Breast Cancer Care, Angus Council, NHS GGC, The Scottish Government and more to help them get the most out of digital.
So if you’d like us to help your organisation get to grips with all this give me a shout. Whether it’s a new website, delivering elements of a service using digital channels, making better use of data, training staff in use of social media, getting trustees excited about digital or if you’d just like a chat here’s how you can reach me:
I’m looking forward to working with more people across the third sector to ensure Scotland becomes a world-leader in the use of digital as a tool for social good.
The Scottish third sector is on the cusp of something big. 2017 could be the year we leapfrog the rest of the UK and become a world leader in the use of digital as a tool to bring about positive societal change.
Over the last six months I’ve been working with nineteen leaders from across Scotland’s third sector on a journey of digital leadership, part of the groundbreaking #OneDigital programme. From the work has emerged a Call to Action (read in full at the bottom of this post) which challenges Scotland’s third sector to better meet the needs of service users, supporters and partners. As Beth Murphy, #OneDigital Project Manager at SCVO, outlines, this is about people:
Being digital doesn’t mean being inhuman. We don’t see it as a way to save money and cut corners. Evolving your charity to fully take advantage of digital can mean having the data you need to demonstrate impact, developing services that meet the 21st century expectations of your users and freeing up time by reducing administration.
To bring about the change the public demands we need strong leadership. We need leaders like Mary Allison, Scotland Director at Breast Cancer Now. At the recent 3rdsectordigicamp Mary talked openly about embracing digital, the need to challenge the status quo and the need to learn from failure.
Digital isn’t a nice-to-have. It shapes how people live their lives, the third sector needs to embrace digital to ensure we remain fit for purpose. We need leaders who understand that. As David McNeill, Digital Director at SCVO, makes clear:
Leaders in the third sector do not need to be digital experts, but we do need to lead change which will enable our organisations to be fit-for-purpose in a digital world.
The Call to Action asks three main audiences to take specific actions over the next twelve months to ensure the Scottish third sector leads the way:
Charity trustees, chief executives and other third sector leaders
- Ensure that you have the knowledge you need to drive digital change and engage in networks to support your professional development
- Understand the digital skills of your staff, volunteers and end users, and invest in training and support to develop them
- Encourage charities to recruit a trustee to their board who understands digital and can support organisational change.
- Highlight best practice in digital adoption in charities to inspire and motivate other organisations.
- Make explicit statements about the importance of digital and advocate for consideration of a digital approach in the work you fund.
- Train grants officers to understand how to assess and evaluate digital initiatives.
How will you get involved?
Share the Call to Action with your staff, volunteers and trustees. Join in the discussion using the #OneDigital hashtgag.
My recent piece for Third Force News looks at my work with Scottish charity chief executives and senior staff on the OneDigital action learning programme. It’s been a privilege to be involved with charity leaders who are really challenging their organisation and future proofing the work they do.
Many of the non-profits participating are taking a fresh look at the fundamentals of how they work. Their starting point is service users and supporters, not digital tools. They’re making simple changes to transform the way their staff and volunteers work, and allowing them to get excited and empowered about the vital work they deliver.
All of this work is propelled forward by the broader OneDigital programme and the Scottish Government’s digital strategy. However, having worked with these charity leaders over the last few months it’s clear that we need radical change if the sector is ever going to truly embrace digital.
Effective leadership needs to be the starting point. The charities taking part in our action learning sets have embraced change because they’ve got passionate, effective leaders. Senior leaders and trustees can no longer rely on junior staff to make key strategic decisions about digital. It’s not just about social media, it’s not just about the server that sits in your cupboard and it’s not just about your fundraising database. This is about looking at what you do with a fresh pair of eyes, experimenting and empowering staff and service users – it needs to be about real culture change. It’s about seeing the transformational potential of digital service delivery.
For many organisations all of this leads to one fundamental question: is your chief executive or chairperson ready to fundamentally reassess how you do things in light of the potential offered by digital?
Charities need a new relationship with technology. Let’s end the age of the giant IT infrastructure system and aim to get to the point where IT becomes invisible. Beyond that, we need to ensure all decisions we make are based upon effective use of data. We need to be geared up to spot societal trends. It’s vital that we respond quickly to the needs of our communities and we need to be able to truly measure the impact we have.
We need to move away from seeing data as a tool to win and report on funding, it’s about delivering the best services we can, when and where people need them.
Funding is going to be key to all of this. That doesn’t necessarily mean more tech-focused niche funding streams. In fact it would be much more productive if funders simply encouraged more people to make digital-first grant applications to mainstream funding streams. That’s probably going to mean training grants officers to assess projects where digital is key, and we need more funders challenging charities to think about where digital can improve outcomes.
Alongside the OneDigital team, I’m currently working on a charity senior leaders’ digital call to action. This will be a blueprint for change, shaped by those taking part in the action learning programme. Hopefully this will kick-start a wider conversation about the need for effective leadership, culture change, flexible technology, smarter funding, and collaborative data. Less strategy, more doing.
The Call to Action will be launched on 2 November at the Senior Leaders Digital Unconference – 3rdsectordigicamp. This event is open to senior leaders and key stakeholders from across the third sector.