Charities need communications: reading list

Black woman in front of mixed seated group using post-its
Communications happening

A series of articles curated from CharityComms Knowledge Hub

Friends at the top: getting to know your trustees 


by Kay Parris, 8th November 2016

Help them understand the role and value of comms

For Trustees Week 2016, we’ve produced Understanding communications: a brief guide for charity trustees. Why not ask your CEO to circulate it to the board, and suggest it’s included in your trustee induction programme? Or offer to present to the board on the role and value of comms at an upcoming trustee meeting, and take the guide along as a handout.

How to make the case for comms with trustees

by Kay Parris 6th Jan 2017

Communications can help trustees deliver on virtually every organisational aim and governance duty laid out by the Charity Commission. However, these things can only happen when the communications function enjoys recognition, understanding and influence at the top of the organisation.

If your trustees are yet to be persuaded of the critical, strategic role of comms in your organisation, keep clear arguments to hand. 

One voice: a Best Practice Guide to integrated communications


by Vicky Browning, 18th Feb 2015

Developing audience-focused communications that deliver a range of aims at the same time will result in stronger impact and greater outcomes for your organisation.

One voice, CharityComms’ Best Practice Guide to integrated communications, produced in partnership with GOOD Agency, is a practical guide to getting buy-in for integrated comms and how to roll out the practice across your organisation.

How does your comms team stack up?

by Duncan Hatfield, 27th May 2017

For the last decade, CharityComms has been tirelessly flying the flag for comms by connecting professionals and sharing best practice. In our tenth year, we’ve launched the Communications Benchmark 2017: Taking the sector’s temperature, to investigate how our sector has evolved over the last 10 years, and what might lie in the future. To follow our 2008 and 2012 benchmarks, this year we asked comms professionals at 273 charities a series of searching questions about their views, and analysed the results.

The report has been designed to help you:

  • evaluate how much comms is valued
  • provide ammunition to boost the status of comms and secure management buy-in
  • compare your communications department and its resources against the wider sector
  • identify the barriers to achieving your comms goals
  • spot current and future trends

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).

Component One: Components in Transformation

Introduction

These series of essays seek to explore the concept of transformation within public realm provision, deconstructing the process into components, identifying issues, terminology and methods that have formed current practice and process and arguing in a public realm provision transformational process.

The term ‘component’ is used to identify the complexity of public realm process, acknowledging that there are a variety of ‘parts and processes’ within the services delivered through public realm funding.

Each component is explored, activity identified, and terminology examined within current and potential provision.

This first essay (Component One) provides an outline of definition and issues within a transformational process.

Subsequent essays will explore:

  • Current and Possible public realm ecosystem (Component Two)

  • Supply chain development (Wave Impact) within public realm funded programmes (Component Three)

  • Link between term used within commissioning and tendering and the ‘absolute’ definition (Component Four)

The final essay (Summary) will bring together all the issues outlined in the first four, exploring how they can influence transformation within public realm services.

Other RnR blogposts and publications will be referenced throughout the essays – these are relevant to the issue being explored within any specific component.

Component One – Definitions  and issues  

Public realm, public service, transformation, and the issue of palimpsest. 

Public service to public realm

The first element of this component is the terminology we use throughout this and subsequent essays outlining other components in transformation.

The primary task in a service transformation process is distinguishing the service provision, the funding source, and the describing terminology used in such a process. In projects that are part of a ‘welfare provision’ it may be obvious who is providing the funding; it has, however, become more difficult to identify who is providing the service.

The creation of internal markets, private finance initiatives, academies, commissioning, tendering and contracting have created a wide variety of service provision.

The strategic development of provision is still the remit of national government, through a departmental delivery system. Some activities are the responsibility of local government, but such roles have diminished due to funding structures. Increasingly, the local authority structure is used to deliver national government policies through commissioning and contracting, as part of the ‘open and free market’.

The principle of commissioning within public expenditure increases the number of organisations involved in service and project delivery, thus widening the ‘public sector’ concept to accommodate neoliberal principles that an open and free market increases choice and maximises the ‘benefits’[remuneration] of public expenditure.

Services are delivered through commissioning and procurement processes, or by selling off services through a bidding process through a variety of ‘conduit vehicles’. Organisations or companies are still funded by public funds, but are they public services?

The ‘market’ delivered activities are still referred to as public services, irrespective of the provider or the route of any excess/profit from the activity.

To encompass the myriad of processes of delivery of services we in RnR Organisation use the term ‘public realm’ services, services whose source of finance is derived from the ‘public purse’. We use this term so that we can discuss the transformation of ‘products or services’ delivered by organisations to beneficiaries, irrespective of the organisation or process that delivers the service. The service remains within the public realm, accessible in the same way, or with some changes. It is not, however, a public service delivered by staff employed through a public body. It is delivered by a variety of organisations and companies, some of whom may be community run social enterprises, reinvesting any excess, or others where part of any ‘public’ funding is retained as excess/profit, not employed for its project function but distributed to shareholders or owners.

Acknowledging this difference is not just one of semantics but an acknowledgement of the changes in the public funding pathway. Whereas local Authorities and councils used to provide a wide range of services their role has, over several reforms, been modified into that of a facilitator /provider of commissions.

Transformation clarification of public service remit 

The second element explores the potential for innovative or novel transformation, given the reforms that have taken place over the past twenty years.

As if the reforms undertaken by the Thatcher and subsequent governments were not enough, the term ‘transformation’ continues to be used within an almost continuous process of restructuring services.

The current ‘transformation’ agenda therefore exists within an environment which views public services, developed and provided by national or local government departments, as a thing of the past.

Public realm funding, national government expenditure, however, continues to be spent, in silo departments, within a linear decision-making process, ensuring that political strategy and values are implemented to operational programmes into the ‘market’ through a commissioning process Fig 1 

Fig 1 Current Model, linear Process

So what exactly is being transformed? Who is leading that transformation, and what is the perceived outcome of such reforms? Given the austerity budgets since 2011 it would be simple enough to suggest that a neoliberal, free market, public expenditure reductionist agenda is in the ascendancy.

Transformation, in such a climate, and after such major reforms and the ‘selling off’ of services, would seemingly finish what is left of public sector delivered funding, if not public realm services all together.

Yet, in this potentially darkest hour for public realm services, we would contend that there is an opportunity to truly transform how national and local government services, as well as other publicly paid-for services can be delivered, thus utilising public funding and transforming the role of public bodies as enablers and facilitators

 

 Historical context, terminology and purpose

To begin the exploration of such a transformation we need to ask three questions to address the historical context, to challenge some terminology and to identify a remit/purpose.

  1. What are public services? a brief one paragraph explanation: Beginning with the 1601 Poor Law, financed from property owners, the process had a geographic focus of parishes in those days – not to alleviate poverty, but to control the ‘lower orders’, and to reinforce a sense of social hierarchy. There were amendments throughout the subsequent centuries, expanded by the creation of Local Authorities and associated Acts that added responsibility for roads, water, electricity, gas and education. Their growth and subsequent decline is well documented.

  1. Who are the stakeholders? Are we customers? Both these terms have been recently adopted and are widely used within service planning and delivery. Do individual stakeholders have different perceptions of public services, what is delivered and what, as recipients, is expected? Can a beneficiary of a service, a customer, also be a participant in delivering that service?

In public realm services the answer is yes, but most planning provides a distinct separation between provider and recipient. In the way the two terms are used is there a difference between stakeholder and customer? We would argue that there isn’t.

By adopting such unclear terminology there is a danger of developing services within restricted ‘stakeholder/customer’ categorisation, separating/compartmentalising those involved into those who deliver, and those who receive. It becomes a deficiency service model, with recipients, people who have defined problems that need resolving, and people with the skills to resolve them. In developing such programmes within ‘silo department’ funding sources, stakeholders/customers/providers become compartmentalised into simplistic pigeonholes: problem, provider and recipient. Funding follows this formula.

There is no scope in this model for considering how to fit ‘stakeholders/customers’ into more than one category, to consider the possibility that an individual may participate in more than one role within a service – a provider can also be a recipient and can fit into a number of categories.

  1. More difficult in ‘welfare services’? Given the breadth of public expenditure it may be more difficult within ‘welfare’ provision to identify role(s) and remit(s). While infrastructure projects, roads, water etc. are easy to define within measurable outcomes, delivery of welfare services, personal development, care, etc., can be more subjective. Services are developed to ameliorate identified issues and problems – services designed within a deficiency model.

Compartmentalisation of problems leads to subjective deficiency definitions, and thus provides project titles such as ‘Troubled Families’, ‘People with Multiple and Complex Needs’, ‘Disaffected communities’ etc. These are projects developed within a deficiency/ ‘medical model’, delivered by staff frequently recruited from a specific social class, potentially delivering a ‘we know best’ programme.

Dichotomy in the development and delivery process

The deficiency model delivery and the development of stakeholder/customer involvement creates a dichotomy in the development and delivery process. Providers’ input and views can outweigh those of the recipient, thus reducing the impact of stakeholder involvement, making any co-design and production activity meaningless.

Community assets

Later components in this series will explore the role, not of distinguishing between recipient or providers, but rather of recognising and developing individuals as ‘assets’ within communities, and incorporating such practice, and ultimately resources, in developing a neighbourhood (community) support process and provision. 

Transformation – an issue of palimpsest1?

The last element acknowledges that no transformation of public services takes place on a blank canvas, but on an existing blue print that is drawn and re-drawn over the years. Current service provision bears the marks of historical development and delivery, previous processes and incarnations, the potential, perceivable and the unachieved, impossible to remove or wipe clean.

Public sector reform/transformation is undertaken within the data it gathers from the silos, data from its services, related to problems it has identified, and solutions it wishes to impose. It is influenced by fiscal constraints of public funding – such activity is promoted as reform and restructuring which is potentially disproportionally influenced by those employed to deliver the process, protecting both their status and their income.

Terms such as ‘co-design’ or ‘co-production’ are used to augment ‘stakeholder’ involvement in service development – but it’s service development that remains fiscally restricted, silo data-driven and output orientated.

 True reform

We believe that true reform, even within fiscal restrictions, is possible, if driven by decision making using a wider range of processes and data. Such reform or transformation has to be built on previous and current activities, but the ‘components’ outlined in this series of essays form the core of a re-thinking, the transformation of provision.

We believe that participants in such delivery should be from as wide a range in society as possible and include the process of accumulating as much data and ‘skilled assets’ as possible, in order to redraw any current ‘blueprint’ of how public realm expenditure impacts on individuals, not only at a service delivery level but also at a neighbourhood and community level.

 

1                      Palimpsest noun [ C ] –  /ˈpæl.ɪm.sest/ /ˈpæl.ɪm.sest/

​A very old text or document in which writing has been removed and covered or replaced by new writing – something such as a work of art that has many levels of meaning, types of style, etc. that build on each other;

 

 

Exploring public realm transformation

Introduction

Visualisations within this post are to be published soon by RnR Organisation in a series of essays that explore public realm transformation

The visualisations explore the systems within public realm process of decision making and its influences on other sectors, primarily the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS).

Within this post the visualisations are in 4 sections though they may appear in a different order in forthcoming essays

Section 1

This section (1 of 4) identifies what we call the current linear process of public realm decision making and its subsequent impact on transformation of VCS engagement within ‘product’ development and innovation of services (Fig 01).

Fig 01 Linear Process

The second visualisation (Fig 01i) identifies how the linear process affects the development of ‘products’ and services, with subsequent visualisations (Figs 01ii & 01iii) exploring how public realm transformation is driving and ‘informing’ product and service development within VCS organisations and the voluntary sector.

Fig 01i Linear Process transformation

 

Fig 01ii Supply Chain modified

 

Fig 01iii Supply Chain

 

 

 

Section 2

This section (2 of 4) explores alternative views of ecosystems of support

The Three Field [Asset Based Community Development] Model ™ (Fig 02) was developed by RnR Organisation in 2015. It compartmentalises aspects of support to individuals with health provision but can be utilised in other public provision.

Fig 02 Three Field Model

 

Fig 02i Ring of Confidence

The Ring of Confidence™ (Fig 02i) developed by Poc Zero, outlines agency support to an individual.

Boxes of Support™ (Fig 02ii) was developed by RnR Organisation, in discussion with Poc Zero, as an addendum to the Ring of Confidence™.

Fig 02ii Boxes of support

Fig 02iii New Paradigm

 

 

 

 

 

The next visualisation is Dan Duncan’s ‘New Paradigm for Effective Community Impact’ (Fig 02iii). This identifies the fundamental difference between needs and deficit-based provision, delivered through the linear process, and an asset-based approach that focusses on people being the core to developing ideas and activities. With additional resources available from ABCD Institute.

The last two visualisations (Fig 02iv & Fig 02v) provide a different view of the Three Field Model ™, identifying how commissioning and the linear process affects current practice within Field One (Statutory provision), Field Two (Places to go) and Field Three (Community assets).

Fig 02iv Three Field Commissioning Model

 

Fig 02v Linear Process and Three Field

 

Section 3

This section (3 of 4) outlines processes that are included within public realm commissioning but, we would argue, not in their ‘absolute’ forms.

Product development (innovation) (Fig 03) is a term used frequently within commissioning processes, as are the terms design, co-design and co-production (Design Process, Fig 03i). The visualisations provide an outline of what we consider to be ‘absolute’ processes.

Fig 03 Product Development Process

 

Fig 03i Design Process

This section also visualises the data ecosystem. One visualisation (Fig 03ii) is our representation of the public realm data ecosystem – who holds data, where that data is used and how it can impact on products to market. This ecosystem includes campaigns for opening data, lobbying and campaigning groups.

The Open Data Institute (ODI) Data Spectrum (Fig 03iii) provides an outline of which data sits where, from Closed to Open, and the last visualisation (Fig 03iv) explores how the ecosystem and Data Spectrum can begin to be fused together, exploring how data can be utilised in public realm decision making process

Fig 03ii Data Ecosystem

 

Fig 03iii Open Data Ecosystem with Three Field

 

Fig 03iv Closed Shared Open Data

Section 4

This last section (4 of 4) begins to fuse all the elements in the previous 3 sections into visualisations that lead to a new decision-making process.

The first two (Fig 04 & Fig 04i) re-present earlier visualisations with slight modification.

Fig 04 Three Field and data ecosystem 2

 

Fig 04i Linear Process and Three Field

The next two (Fig 04ii & Fig 04iii) explore issues related to data collection – by Field One organisations, from both Field Two organisations and Field Three ‘assets’

Fig 04ii Linear Data Collection

 

Fig 04iii Three Field Data Collection

 

Following that there are two further visualisations (Fig 04iv & Fig 04v) exploring the fusion of the Three Field Model ™ and the data ecosystem and how that process can be used to gather data.

Fig 04iv Three Field and Data Ecosystem

 

Fig 04v Three Field and Data collection system

The last visualisation (Fig 04vi) identifies a service development, decision making, eco-system that brings together aspects of previous visualisations.

Fig 04vi Wider Data Proposal

All images published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC-BY-SA-4.0) unless otherwise attributed

 

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…”

Make yourself easier to find on LinkedIn

I’ve been using LinkedIn, and advising people on how to use it, for 10 years.

I use it to find phone numbers or email addresses, to check out business contacts I’ve just met or I’m about to meet, to search for topics I’m researching, to check my dashboard and/or to post comments and content (including cross-posting content to my Twitter account).

In my opinion as a business advisor, if you have a LinkedIn profile,  you should customise your LinkedIn public profile URL so your profile looks more professional, and so it can be found more easily by people with whom you want to connect.

INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO CUSTOMISE YOUR LINKEDIN PUBLIC PROFILE URL

  • As in the example below of my LinkedIn profile, go to your LinkedIn profile by clicking on your profile photo on the top right of the menu bar on the Home page and choose ‘View profile’.

  • Click on ‘Edit public profile & URL’ on the right side of the page

 

 

 

  • Navigate to the ‘Edit URL’ section on top right and click on the pencil icon by your current URL e.g. www.linkedin.com/in/paulineroche

 

 

 

  • Customise your URL by overwriting what’s there, including deleting the numbers which LinkedIn automatically adds when you sign up e.g. yourname.

Hint: If your name has already been taken by another LinkedIn member, use a middle name or initial to personalise yours.

Note: Your LinkedIn custom URL must contain 5-30 letters or numbers. LinkedIn does not allow you to use spaces, symbols, or special characters.

  • Save your new public profile URL by clicking on the SAVE button.

Note: You can change your URL up to 5 times within 6 months, but changing it may make it more difficult for people to find you.

NEXT STEPS

  • Add your customised LinkedIn URL to your email signature, and any other places where it might be useful e.g. on your business card and/or on your website.

  • If you like, let me know what you think of this tip, and if you have any other questions about LinkedIn.

 

 

Why should community arts organisations gather and share data?

In Nov-Dec 2017 six Birmingham community arts organisations either based in and/or working with a range of communities from Sparkhill or Sparkbrook, came together to produce Spark: South Asian Arts Festival, a number of events designed with and by local people and curated by local arts organisation Ort Gallery. The Festival consisted of two weeks of films, music, arts, crafts, street art, theatre, poetry, food and more.

Arts and Heritage education specialist and Festival volunteer Jess Harrison, working with Pauline Roche from RnR Organisation who managed the social media for Ort Gallery during the Festival, carried out some pilot audience surveys at a few of the many events, and in this post she shares some of her thoughts and insights about small community arts organisations gathering and sharing data:

““We encourage our funded organisations to be more focused on audiences – to reach more people, broaden the groups they come from and improve the quality of their experience” Engaging people everywhere, Arts Council

Why share data?… to provide actionable insight about audiences and non-attenders, to enable communication directly with audiences or participants – Why share data?, Arts Council

Why gather and share data among small community arts organisations?
– Understanding audiences better leads to a) better programming which directly addresses their needs, and b) better marketing which can reach further across or deeper into particular sectors.
– Arts organisations face a number of challenges including lack of funding, facilities and staff; sharing data means that we can use our resources to everyone’s best advantage

My personal experience in gathering data from this festival:
– The benefits: directly engaging with people who’ve come to see shows, particularly asking open ended questions and gathering qualitative data
– The challenges: choosing what data to gather; gathering enough data to be representative and deciding what to do with the data when it’s been collected (ideally, this should be decided by the organisation before collecting the data)

Four practical recommendations for other small organisations collecting data:
– Have a clear idea of WHY you’re gathering data and WHAT you’ll do with it
– Be flexible and diverse in gathering data – be prepared to use a number of different methods (i.e. both paper-based and electronic)
– ‘Stitching’ data types together can give us more insights i.e. “track ticket purchasers, measure and map audiences, note accounts, compare web analytics, monitor social, share data, share donors” Data culture #1: back to (data) basics Patrick Hussey, The Guardian, Mar 29th 2012
– Make active connections with other local organisations in order to share data and practices”

Want to get involved in this local data gathering and sharing?

Following the successful Spark Festival project, there is now a legacy project which is exploring the development of arts activity/community arts activity within the Sparkbrook/Sparkhill area which will include data gathering and sharing.

If you want further details of this project, or our other work around data-informed decision-making, please contact RnR Organisation at RnR.Organisation@gmail.com