Do you need to be zooming?

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

It’s April 2020 and people’s lives in all parts of the world are being affected by the Covid 19 Pandemic.

The short and medium term effects, including changes in how we use technology, are likely to go on for some months.

The long term effects will go on for years.

Video conferencing using Zoom

In our sector, people who never used video conferencing before this pandemic are having to suddenly get their heads around the various platforms in order to have meetings, deliver services, keep helping their beneficiaries.

Zoom, a platform developed for business purposes, for big organisations with IT departments, seems to have become the goto platform. Currently more than 200m people are logging on to use it every day.

Internet evangelist and social videographer John Popham observed about the Zoom phenomenon:

And this is where we come in with some more information about alternatives to Zoom.

Most people will have heard of these others of course, but it might be a good reminder of what they can do, and a chance to reconsider which platform is most suited to our needs.

No IT department?

If you’re not a big organisation with an IT department, other video calling options as alternatives to Zoom are available:

Google hangouts – free group video call with up to 10 people, group chats (typing text) for up to 150 people – here’s a good article about how to use hangouts including how it works if you don’t have a Google account

Skype – free group video call with up to 50 people, available even if you don’t have a Skype account

WhatsApp video – free group video call with up to 4 people, available if everyone has the WhatsApp app on their phone

Funders and data for good: regional funders network at the first national Data4Good conference

Background

RnR Organisation was delighted to see the involvement of WM Funders Network (WMFN) in the 1st national data4good conference in 2018.

We saw it as a potential opportunity for others attending the conference to influence WMFN members in how they may use data in their own organisations. During the event, some funder representative attendees expressed an increased interest in the uses of data, even if their organisation hasn’t currently got staff resource to engage in such development.

Smaller funders, data and data sharing

Smaller funders do not always see the benefits of data, and data sharing, and WMFN also has members for whom the cost of paying to attend events like this might be an issue. Combining attendance at this important event as part of their annual membership package was a bonus for them.

Engagement opportunities for conference delegates

Access to fifteen local funder representatives meant the opportunity for other conference attendees to, amongst other things:

Expose funders to messages about what conference organising partners and other delegates would like them to do with their data and the data from their beneficiaries
Encourage funders to share their data and demonstrate how to do it
Encourage funders to get charities/groups they fund to share their data
Encourage collaboration (WMFN will continue to support member organisations in the West Midlands, including around data, and other regional funders networks could do likewise)
Impact evidence of including smaller funders

Future steps with funders and data for good

As conference partners and others have written about the merits to the sector of getting more funders to share and explore their data, thus supporting the decision to encourage funders to attend the conference, this decision enabled a wider and better-informed breadth of discussion to take place.

We hope to see an increasing number of funders at future data for good events.

Reading

There is good impact evidence to back up the participation of small funders with information in articles like these:

Exploring the gold mine of funders’ data, 360 Giving 8 Dec 2016

5 ways data can improve your grant-making, NPC, 3 Nov 2016

What does it take for charities to harness the power of data?, Katie Boswell, NPC, 5 June 2017

Exploring Open Data On Charity Funding, David Kane, NCVO, 15 Dec 2015

Grant-making data and small charities, ACF, 22 June 2017

Wasting less and giving more: charities and funders unite with better data, Suraj Vadgama, ODI, 11 Jan 2017

How Funders Reduce “Nonprofit Starvation” with Tech Funding & Data Best Practices, Exponent Partners, Guidestar, 11 Nov 2016

Sharing Data Responsibly – How And Why Do Human Rights Funders Share Data? Tom Walker, The Engine Room, 27 Feb 2018

How philanthropy can support the growth of data for social good, Kendra Schreiner and Jordan Junge, Alliance for social investment and philanthropy worldwide,15 Aug 2018

Five principles for applying data science for social good, Jake Porway, Datakind, 1 Oct 2015

Charities and data in England and Wales

Photo by Alexander Sinn on Unsplash

Introduction

We’ve been talking about charity data for a few years, working to increase data literacy and data sharing in and around our sector. We were one of the nine partners in the first Data for Good conference in Birmingham in 2018.

The conversation around data and it’s use by charities is developing so we decided to collate some of the resources we have come across and/or used. We’d be pleased to hear about others.

Sources and links to information on data about and for charities

Blogposts

The best data resources for UK charities by Chloe Green, 5th April 2019, Charity Digital

Charities in the UK – Statistics & Facts by Daniel Clark, 17th Jan 2020, Statista

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) FAQs for charities, Information Commissioners Office

Databases/Directories

Charitybase – free, open source database, API and web app which provides public information on the activities, locations and finances of the 168,000 charities registered in England and Wales.

CharityChoice – charity directory, providing detailed information on over 160,000 registered UK charities

Grantnav, 360 Giving – supports organisations to publish their grants data in an open, standardised way and helps people to understand and use the data to support decision-making and learning across the charitable giving sector.

Housing Databank June 2019, Shelter – brings together government data on housing need, supply, affordability and other issues at a local, regional and national level.

UK Civil Society Almanac 2019, NCVO , 2019 – definitive resource on the state of the voluntary sector. The Almanac produces insights on what voluntary organisations do, their income and spending, workforce, volunteers and the sector’s impact

Organisations

360 Giving – charity which helps UK funders publish open, standardised grants data, and empowers people to use it to improve charitable giving.

Charity Digital – charity which helps other charities accelerate their missions using digital technology

Datakind UK – charity which supports charities and social enterprises large and small to work on and with their data using data science

NCVO – infrastructure organisation which champions the voluntary sector and volunteering

NPC – charity which supports charities, philanthropists, funders and social enterprises to maximise their social impact. 

Operational Research Society – charity which helps inform strategic, tactical and operational decisions as well as assisting in the design of public policy. 

Pro Bono Economics – charity helping charities and social enterprises improve their impact and value

Royal Statistical Society – charity which advocates the key role of statistics and data in society, working to ensure that policy formulation and decision making are informed by evidence for the public good.

Papers/Reports

Charities and the voluntary sector: statistics By Richard Keen & Lukas Audickas, 16th Aug 2017, House of Commons Library

Investment Spotlight report 2019 – examines the investment performance of the UK’s top 5,000 charities in terms of income and assesses the size of the charity investment market over the past 10 years.

Open data and charities: a state of the art review written for Nominet Trust by Wendy Hall, Nigel Shadbolt, Thanassis Tiropanis, Kieron O’Hara and Tim Davies, July 2012

Where are England’s charities? by Dan Corry, 16th Jan 2020, npc – author uses data to ask if the current distribution of charities around the country is what we would want in an ideal world and explores what government, funders and charities could do about it. 

Mapping charities in the West Midlands

The map shows all 13,653 charities that were registered with the Charity Commission in September 2016, and had registered with a postcode that falls within the West Midlands.

The layers tab on the right allows for filtering by category of activity (proportional by income), the search function on the left searches by charity name.

The layers are ordered by frequency of type (with 82 umbrella bodies and 2383 religious orgs).

James Bowles made this map following a suggestion by Pauline Roche from RnR Organisation.

Pauline recognised how useful such a map would be, not only for all the charities on the map, but also for existing and potential funders, including individuals who might want to support a charity in their area.

James posted details of how he made the map here

What are your charity’s digital identity needs?

How could digital identification help UK charities to more effectively collect information about people using their services?

Do charities need to prove who people are, ensure that they are legally eligible for services or to record and recall information about them? If they do, what worries them about the process?

Could Yoti Keys help people to take ownership of their background information and how they share it when accessing multiple, or repeat, services?

Yoti have commissioned Nissa Ramsay of Think Social Tech, and Pauline Roche of RnR Organisation, to find answers to these all important questions.

Nissa and I will be exploring the most effective use cases for the Yoti app (which verifies legal identities or key personal details, like age) among UK charities. We will also explore the use cases for Yoti Keys, our offline solution, which is a product in development that enables charities to register and subsequently identify people accessing their services without needing a smartphone, documentation or connectivity.

You can find more information here.

Get involved

If you work for a charity based and working in the UK then we’d love to hear from you.

All we need you to do is to share your opinions and experiences by responding to this survey by 10am on Wednesday 26 September.

The survey will be relevant to you regardless of whether your work is paper-based or tech driven, face to face or online.

We’re particularly interested in hearing from you if you have a need to legally identify people. We also want to hear from people who could potentially use the offline Key to help prevent people from having to tell their story every time they access a service, or to help their organisation better manage and monitor people’s interactions with their service .

What next

The research will end in late September, with a first look at our findings coming out later in the year.

If you want to follow the progress of the project then you can. Nissa and I will be tweeting about our work using the hashtag #digitalidentity.

Please let us know what you think by completing the survey or getting in touch with Nissa at nissa@thinksocialtech.org or I so we can work towards delivering the best possible products and services for UK charities.

Civil Society Strategy 2018 – commentaries etc

Civil Society Strategy: Building A Future That Works For Everyone, Cabinet Office, Aug 2018 [123pp, PDF]

 

ARTICLES

Charities react to the Civil Society Strategy: ‘Good start, could do more’, Kirsty Weakley, Civil Society, Aug 9 2018

Civil Society Strategy: 7 things social entrepreneurs need to know, Laura Kekuti, UnLtd, Aug 9

Civil Society Strategy – A Closer Look, Will Downs, Clinks, Aug 21 2018

The Civil Society Strategy – good ideas, no execution, David Ainsworth, Civil Society, Aug 10

Civil Society Strategy is only the beginning, sector says, Liam Kay, Third Sector, Aug 9

Civil Society Strategy: Localgiving’s Response, Aug 9 2018

Civil Society Strategy: Much to welcome, tempered by the broader context, ACF, Aug 9 2018

Civil Society Strategy – Our Thoughts, London Funders

Civil Society Strategy Special [podcast], CAF, Aug 23 2018

The Civil Society Strategy: What It Says About Digital, Lisa Horning, NCVO, Aug 30 2018

The Civil Society Strategy: What It Says About Funding And Finance, James Clarke, NCVO, Aug 14 2018

The Civil Society Strategy: What It Says About Impact And Evaluation, Alex Farrow, NCVO, Aug 20 2018

The Civil Society Strategy: What It Says About Local Infrastructure, Lev Pedro, NCVO, Aug 30 2018

The Civil Society Strategy: What It Says About Public Services, Rebecca Young, NCVO, Aug 14 2018

The Civil Society Strategy: What It Says About Regulation, Douglas Dowell, NCVO, Aug 16 2018

The Civil Society Strategy: What It Says About Volunteering, Shaun Delaney, NCVO, Aug 15 2018

The Civil Society Strategy: What You Need To Know, Elizabeth Chamberlain, NCVO, Aug 9 2018

The Civil Society Strategy won’t feed the sector, Mark Freeman, CCVS,  Aug 16 2018

Does the Civil Society Strategy deliver for charities? Richard Sagar, Charity Finance Group, 16 Aug 2018

The future is collaborative commissioning, Community Southwark, Aug 14

Government aims to build digital in civil society, Mark Say, UK Authority, Aug 10 2018

Government and charities don’t do enough to give people power, Julia Unwin, Civil Society, Aug 14 2018

Inclusive Democracy and Participation, Roz Davies, Good Things Foundation, Aug 12 2018

Julia Unwin: Government and charities don’t do enough to give people power, Julia Unwin, Civil Society, Aug 14 2018

New Civil Society Strategy – too many roadblocks on the way to success left untouched, Daniel Ferrell-Schweppenstedde, DSC, Aug 23 2018

NYA CEO Leigh’s thoughts on the Civil Society Strategy, Alex Winterton, National Youth Agency, Aug 14 2018

Our response to the Civil Society Strategy, SSE, Aug 10 2018

Paul Streets: The devil of the Civil Society Strategy lies in the delivery, Paul Streets, Third Sector, Aug 10 2018

Plotting the path: David Robinson responds to the government’s Civil Society Strategy, David Robinson, Community Links, Aug 21 2018

Revitalising trusts to support local communities, Community Foundation for Surrey, Aug 10

Strengthening Civil Society, Miriam Brittenden, CUF, Aug 28 2018

UKCF Chief Executive Welcomes The Civil Society Strategy, Fabian French

What charities should expect from the new Civil Society Strategy, Oliver White, nfpsynergy, Aug 16 2018

What Links Netflix, Assistive Technology And The Civil Society Strategy? Ian Burbidge, RSA, Aug 21 2018

LETTERS

The ‘civil society strategy’ can’t rely on charities with no funding, Guardian, Aug 12 2018

PRESS RELEASES

Government outlines vision to empower and invest in society, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & SportOffice for Civil Society, and Tracey Crouch MP, Aug 8 2018

“We now need to see Government driving action on the ground” – Our response to the new Civil Society Strategy, Paul Streets, Lloyds Bank Foundation, Aug 9 2018

Net Squared Midlands helping charities do good better

Net Squared Midlands is relaunching on September 20th 2018 with a new development plan for bi-monthly meetups.

Net Squared Midlands, organised by Pauline Roche and Ted Ryan from RnR Organisation, is a tech for social good group with regular free events for people interested in using the web or mobile technology for social good. It’s part of a global NetSquared movement of innovators in more than 70 cities around the world, including Birmingham.

Ted said: “In developing Net Squared Midlands, we aim to build a sector that knows how to use technology more efficiently in order to help their beneficiaries, explore the specific issues and activities not financed through many tech for good funding streams, increase the efficiency and productivity of our sector e.g. automate repetitive tasks, and to build a creative and collaborative digital mindset in the sector”

Sam Reader, of new tech startup Wondr, who has recently become a member of Net Squared Midlands, said: “I think what RnR Organisation is doing, to help charities and non-profits is a great approach and very meaningful. Our team are also passionate about connecting people with others, to share useful information for positive action so I look forward to being involved with Net Squared Midlands.”

Net Squared Midlands is one of 4 themed areas of work undertaken by RnR Organisation, under the Tech for Good and Data for Good banners. They also publish a free monthly e-bulletin (Digital WM News), organise the unconference for voluntary sector infrastructure organisations (VCSSCamp), and Pauline chairs the regional funders network (WM Funders Network).

Big data and the social sector – some reading

I’m doing a trawl of reading on Big data and charities, the voluntary sector etc and publishing it here so others can also benefit – fill your boots

Is big data leveling the playing field for charities?

By Alize Cyril, LucyInnovation blog, 27th April 2017

“…What most charities can do now with big data is to use the information to find out what activities interest the public. With this information, fundraising activities can be tweaked to fit market trends and consumer spending habits. For example, if big data says that charity runs are much better fundraisers than bingo, for instance, then charities can test these trends for their supporters in order to yield better results….”

Big Data And The Voluntary Sector: Sharing Is Caring

By Maria Pikoula, 21st July 2015

“…Charities, often at the frontline of service provision, are in an excellent position to collect and release data related to their own finances as well as their operations, such as numbers and breakdown of beneficiaries and volunteers they work with. A great example is the data released by the Trussel Trust about the foodbanks they run.

This is an opportunity for charities to:

  • lead the way by becoming more transparent

  • showcase the value of their work and the need for what they do.

Combined with local authority and government data, this evidence can enable policy makers to better assess specific, often multifaceted social issues…”

How analytics and big data can transform giving

By Sally Falvey, JustGiving, 17th July 2015

“Big data is disrupting how we date, consume media and shop online. But can an algorithm predict the causes that matter to us? What variables impact someone’s propensity to give?…” Includes link to JustGiving’s “Get your free beginners guide to data and fundraising”

Big Data: The Gift That Will Keep Givers Giving

By Elizabeth Svoboda, Wired, 13th February 2015

“…The work non-profits do is more crucial than ever, especially as government funding for many social programs plummets and the gap between haves and have-nots widens. But keeping such organizations afloat has also gotten challenging as budgets shrink and donor numbers dwindle. These realities have convinced some insiders that smart data is the secret sauce non-profits need to up their game. And if non-profits get savvier and more effective, donors and participants could benefit, too. When you give to a worthy cause, research shows, your brain gets happy, and committed volunteers enjoy a “helper’s high,” reporting better health and more life satisfaction than non-volunteers.

For non-profits to pull off major social transformation, says consultant George Weiner, they need to start thinking more like their data-conscious for-profit peers: “We’re not trying to sell widgets, but we are trying to sell volunteerism.” Weiner, founder of the Brooklyn-based Whole Whale agency, is one of a band of experts imparting an urgent message to non-profits: If you’re a would-be world changer, 1840s technology isn’t going to cut it much longer…”

Big Data and the charitable sector: Research implications

By Diarmuid McDonnell, VSSN, 2014

ABSTRACT: This paper briefly considers the opportunities and limitations of Big Data approaches to the study of the charitable sector in the UK. First a consideration of the core features and concerns surrounding Big Data is provided. A number of research projects that are characterised as or analogous to Big Data techniques are then described. In particular, there will be a focus on the potential research use of administrative data held by the Scottish regulator of charities, OSCR, and national surveys such as the Scottish Household Survey. Finally, the paper reflects on further potential of Big Data approaches for research on the voluntary sector.

Analysis: Crunching the numbers for charity

By Jenna Pudelek, Third Sector, 11th March 2014

“Big data – the gathering and analysis of large sets of figures – is playing an increasing part in business decision-making. Jenna Pudelek finds out, with two case studies, how it can help make charities more effective…”

Small charities need big data

By Ben Smith, Charity Choice, 19th April 2013

“The concept of big data – the huge volume of data that our increasingly digital and traceable lives generate – can be intimidating to small charities. And for those struggling to keep afloat in a crowded and uncertain market, worrying about it is simply not a priority. But big data can be just as relevant for smaller organisations in the sector as it is for larger ones…”

Regional data on charities

The Lloyds Bank Business Digital Index 2017 measures the digital capability of 2,000 small businesses and charities across the UK

The report concentrates on small businesses but it does have a very useful section on charities, especially useful for us being the data about charities in the regions – the two digital demographics diagrams for small businesses and charities are below

(1) Small businesses

(2) Charities

NCVO Almanac

The other key source of regional data about charities/voluntary organisations is the NCVO Almanac 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UKDigiStrategy consultation 2016: Response from Net Squared Midlands

It’s a very open call for ideas, although there are four suggested themes.

Introduction

A group from the public sector and voluntary sector with an interest in digital transformation and digital growth in the charitable sector discussed this at our Net Squared Midlands: Tech for good event in Birmingham in January 2016 and responded with the bullet points below:

1)         Unlocking digital growth

Every business and every charity can benefit from using digital technology, but for many of the smaller charities and micro community groups that we work with there are huge leaps needed to make digital transformation happen.

  • Corporate Social Responsibly – could larger businesses provide digital employee volunteering and mentoring services, brokered through the national network of well established local Volunteer Centres and Councils for Voluntary Service?

  • See volunteer centres https://www.ncvo.org.uk/ncvo-volunteering/find-a-volunteer-centre

2)         Transforming government

Whilst many staff in charities may be comfortable with using their smart phone to go on-line or conduct on-line transactions, the organisations they work for often aren’t at the same level, or don’t have the same infrastructure to make access to government services easy. Many charity websites are not responsive or mobile friendly and others are out of date, poorly designed or non-existent.

Simple transactions Government procurement is seen as being very bureaucratic and a barrier that small charities often with limited digital skills and capacity struggle to engage with. There is a need for more information sharing and awareness raising of what the third sector can (and can’t do) digitally as part of a strategic relationship with government.

  • Simpler commissioning models are needed, maybe with a group of third sector organisations collaborating on contract submission to “Government As A Platform”. ”; info sharing with public sector – lack of knowledge;

  • See the model working in Mansfield http://www.tea-m.org.uk/

3)         Transforming everyday life

Relevant activities that promote digital inclusion should be available at the point of need for individuals who use the services of charities, (e.g. Rough sleepers, single parents etc). Taking time out of running a small community group to assist a user undertake “computer classes” is not sufficient and can be off putting when the environment used is a school or classroom which may have unpleasant memories.

Help citizens to understand what their devices can actually do.

Will e-learning and MOOCs ever really catch on in the third sector?

  • Unlike public or health sectors where training is compulsory and e-learning has been found to be a very cost effective way to deliver this information, no such requirement exists for many tasks in voluntary organisation.

  • See Run A Club platform for skills development & administration of small community sports groups Run a Club packages

For some people leading chaotic personal lives there is a need for “pre basic digital skills”, mentors who can explain the reasons why being a part of the digital society is important. Vitally they also need to mentor and ensure that those farthest from being digitally active retain their connection, remember their e-mail address or government portal passwords.

4)         Building the foundations

Of the 160,045 voluntary organisations in England, 83.1% are small or micro organisations with less than £100,000 income per year. It is these organisations that are most at risk of being left behind digitally and which this strategy needs to accommodate.

The digital framework and basic digital skills developed by Go On UK [now doteveryone] goes part way to helping organisations, but needs to cover the strategic digital transformation issues an organisation has to consider in order to build strong foundations.

Organisations prioritise service delivery over technology, which for a small charity is often the best use of limited resources and capacity, but basic ‘good practice’ cannot be ignored. Digital Fundamentals which must be embedded in the way organisations work, employ staff with digital skills and recruit volunteers to help their cause include:

  • Demystifying ‘the cloud’ and the efficiency saving that this form of working can bring to an organisation, its staff and trustee boards.

  • Being more aware of the many social media tools that help a charity raise its game, increase fundraising and promote its message to a wider audience.

  • Charities need to be directly aware of the National Cyber Security Programme as many don’t adequately protect their data files, use paper based filing systems or fail to back-up databases and don’t use anti-virus and other basic tools which could keep their digital assets safe.

  • Access to impartial advice about the best digital tools and products, not those linked to a particular supplier or solution e.g. http://www.connectingcare.org.uk

  • See Charity IT Association – https://www.charityitassociation.org.uk/about for Tech Surgeries and a Virtual IT Director for small charities who don’t have the resources to employ their own.

These statistics are a concern:

There are some worrying statistics from the 2015 Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index  [updated annually]which tracks digital adoption among small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) and charities:

·         58% of charities lack basic digital skills (23% of SMEs), up from 55% last year

·         28% of charities think that they’re doing all they can online

·         Over 50% of charities do not believe that having a website would help increase their funding and nearly 70% say the same about social media

·         55% of charities think that the knowledge level at board level is lacking.

·         One-quarter (25%) of all organisations surveyed (SMEs and charities) believe digital is ‘irrelevant’ to them.[i]

And this list of technical equipment and events is exactly what is needed by many smaller organisations:

A national charitable funder ran a pilot programme recently which was to help charities use technology to create change in the lives of certain groups in society. There were a number of things which the funder said this programme would not cover and these were:

·         Upgrading of internal IT systems

·         Large-scale capital costs

·         Updating of websites and routine social media campaigns

·         Exploration events or hack days

·         Staff or volunteer training

·         Capacity-building to make an organisation more ‘digital ready’

As an organisation which believes in the need for the digital transformation of civic society, we think this is a handy list of work which does need to be funded by some funder(s) and we aim to identify and seek dialogue with funders who will fund these areas.[ii]

Summary

In summary it is vital to see increased opportunities for face to face networking with other Digital Leaders in the charity sector where exchange of information is possible and all share a common understanding. We have found it possible to gain knowledge of how to build a strong digital foundation by learning from one another in familiar surroundings and from people they trust in similar situations to them.

©         Pauline Roche & Paul Webster – January 2016

[i] http://www.rnrorganisation.co.uk/blogs/smart-cities-smarter-vcse/
[ii] Do.