RnR Organisation Digital WM™: Project 2020

We aim to develop and support a more creative and collaborative mindset amongst people working in and governing the VCSE sector so that they know how to use the internet and digital technology more efficiently in order to help their beneficiaries. This should also increase their efficiency and productivity e.g. automating repetitive tasks. We are also hoping that by the end of the project they will be more able and willing to use freely available digital tools and software.

We are exploring essential issues and activities not currently supported by the major tech for good project funders.

We envisage that the objectives will impact on the VCSE Sector in the following ways:

  • Developing capacity to ensure an organisation becomes ‘digital ready’ or digitally improved
  • Providing or developing appropriate staff/volunteer training
  • Exploring and increasing organisations’ digital footprint to include updating individual websites and engaging in routine social media campaigns
  • Organising and running Exploration events or Hack Days to aid development and delivery of activity
  • Reinforcing/increasing capacity/usage of current system.
  • Exploring need for upgrading of internal IT systems
  • Developing project / economic reasoning for (large scale) capital investment in IT

We will achieve the delivery of the Project 2020 objectives through these three themed areas:

See our more detailed Digital WM™: Project 2020 plan in our Resources section here

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).

Data we don’t know we don’t know

This was a topic Ted talked about at our annual Open Data Day event in 2017 at Innovation Birmingham. We know that public policy is being made about resource allocation which excludes data from front-line organisations in our sector

Matthew Ryder speaking at NAVCA Future Forward

We were therefore delighted to hear our thinking reinforced by London Deputy Lord Mayor Matthew Ryder in a speech in December to gathered VCS infrastructure organisations at the NAVCA Future Forward conference in a speech, the significance of which has yet to be felt, where he said “data (and understanding data) is the key to ensuring that we have a voluntary sector that is skilled up for the future …… data increasingly informs public policy…you have data…that is going to be vital for how resources are going to be allocated towards your work; you will need to understand how to collect that data, and how to share that data, and we at City Hall…want to make sure we are giving you the skills…to be able to work with data more efficiently…you must pay attention to the data that you have – some of you will have data about your users that no government agency is aware of…you have that data, you can index those communities, you can put them on the map…we want you to understand the data you have, how that data is used …and we want, most of all, for you to help us shape the way data will be used in the future…giving those numbers out is going to make a difference to your stakeholders in your communities, not simply telling anecdotes…prepare ourselves for a future where that data will determine how resources are allocated” – full speech on YouTube here

We look forward to developing work on this topic this year, including at future Net Squared Midlands meetups and VCSSCamp, and we want to work with anyone else who’s interested in developing the data literacy of people in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. Please get in touch.

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.