Component Two: The Ecosystem (Current and Possible)

Introduction

Having identified issues and terminology in the first component (Component One) the next two components aim to both deconstruct structures that are related to those issues, as well as exploring structures that ‘traverse’ public realm structures, which may be funded by public realm finances but are often seen as an addition to public realm processes of delivery and are therefore not viewed as equal.

Transformation is therefore imposed upon these ‘traversing’ structures, transformation that may not necessarily benefit such structures but is either for the benefit of, or the fiscal restrictions within, the public realm.

The ‘traversing structures’ are seen as part of a supply chain to public realm services, not as integral components but additions and ‘bolt on’ services.

The first part of this paper therefore explores what we have called the Current Process, linear development. Fig 1 provides a visual interpretation of current decision-making process, a basic outline as to how service decisions are made. Fig 1i explores a visualisation of engaging the ‘traversing’ organisations, predominantly voluntary sector organisations and community groups as part of what is can be called a supply chain.

The second part begins to explore the possibilities of a different view, a view that widens the character of voluntary and community organisations, expanding on the principle of placing individuals, community activists (assets) at the core of community and potential service provision development.

It does this by exploring different, yet complementary, views of community role and engagement within service provision.

Community Development and Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), can operate within and separate from public realm provision. Some proponents of ABCD believe it should operate separately from statutory deficit / deficiency model provision, focusing on neighbourhood / community need. The fundamental differences are outlined through Dan Duncan’s diagram, fig 3, and further references are provided.

RnR Organisation’s Three Field Development, fig 4, and Poc Zero’s Ring of Confidence, fig 5, explore constructs of a possible ecosystem, developed in Birmingham, both models/initiatives designed to aid asset-based involvement in service provision. We appreciate that these initiatives are transferable to other areas, as well as acknowledging that other organisations may have similar processes.

PART ONE The Current, Linear, Process

The Current Process, referred to as the Linear Process. (Fig 1) provides a visualisation of the issues expressed in Component one.

The visualisation identifies the process as linear in format, fiscally restricted and output driven. The process is initiated through political policy which, in turn is turned into strategic policy, strategic development and finally operational implementation, all developed within fiscal constraints, public funding.

Service delivery has changed over the past 15-20 years from an in-house, or grants to external organisation delivery, to that of services delivered by public and non-public sector organisations being  undertaken through a process of written tenders and commissioned work. Tender specifications and commissioned activity is driven by data – this data identifies the need, it is predominantly collated within public realm data sets and is, therefore, often restricted data and silo focused. The data is retained in specific departments and not necessarily shared amongst, or even known by, other departments.

Such data sets are seldom shared externally, outside the public realm organisation, or published in a format that encourages sharing or enables any other party to develop interpretative models that may produce an ‘innovative’ solution to an issue. While the publishing of personal data would not be acceptable, anonymised data published under an open license could widen partnership and engagement of other parties.

 

Fig 1 Current Model, Linear Process

Not only is commissioning undertaken within restricted data boundaries, it is also fiscally restricted, primarily, but not solely, through political decisions at a national level.  Policy and process, established by national government and implemented at a local level, ascertains the amount of money available to fund services identified through the data.

The commissioning and tendering process is aimed at ‘opening’ or ‘creating’ a market. The term ‘purchaser’  is used to describe functions within a commissioning and tendering process, attracting ‘products’ or services through tender applications, assessed against fiscal constraints and output expectations.

While this process purports to encourage product development and innovation and, to this end, it may use these terms within any tendering of commissioning documentation, products that fall outside, or do not clearly comply with outputs outlined within the specification will not be commissioned. New products/processes, developed and proven through additional funding (external funding), may be assimilated into the process.

However, because of fiscal and output constraints, the restricted data, and resultant tender definition of product ensures the linear process influences and impacts, not only public realm structures and services, but also the interaction between public realm and other differently funded organisations.

Reforms within the public realm to accommodate political and fiscally ‘encouraged’ changes are titled ‘transformation’.

Because this ‘transformation’ is delivered within the linear process through commissioning and tendering, it has an impact on how the public realm interacts with the funded supply chain – organisations that are funded to deliver services.

Transformation ‘encouraged’ in the public realm is cascaded to voluntary and community organisation. These have been developed to resolve local/neighbourhood issues, and are funded to undertake this activity. This happened historically through grant processes but they now find themselves having to compete in a tendering and commissioning process.

The public realm linear process develops and delivers its internal transformation, within its own palimpsest. Fiscal restrictions encourage a (Fig 1i) ‘we deliver what we can afford’ mentality, and subsequent tendering and commissioning framework.  Groups, organisations or companies, used to one set of rules, have to adjust to tendering against these measurements i.e. not only the change from grant funding to commissioning but the, sometimes, misinterpretation of tendering guidelines and legislation, large contracts and the widening number of applicants for commissioned activities due to shrinking public and charitable funding)

  

 Fig 1i Current Model, Linear Process with proposed transformation agenda

While this process may be adequate for supply of services to the public realm (although there is a wider debate about public realm staff skills in writing appropriate tenders) such a process has limited achievement in developing new or ‘innovative products’ into a market where the funder, public realm commissioners, decide the finance available, the market provision, the output/numbers to be delivered and the cost of delivery.

The current process does not comply with any product development principles – it is not a market, as the funders retain complete control over the fiscal structure, quantity, circulation and therefore project/product delivery. Public realm expenditure, within the current process ‘open market’ principle, has an enormous impact, on other sectors of economic activity. This impact is neither incorporated within the design of services nor managed strategically to support any outcome / output process.

This is explored in greater depth in wave impact (Component Three)

While it is called a market, it is not. New providers, innovative solutions, have little chance of influencing commissioning if they do not fulfil the criteria of the tender specification which, in itself, is designed through restricted data, institutionally based and biased.

Additional community engagement is undertaken in the linear process through a variety of ‘customer’/patient, community liaison [consultation] activities. The majority of these practices, Housing Liaison Boards, Stakeholder experience consultations, ‘Expert by Experience’ ‘Expert Patient’ activity, Ward Committees etc. are professional-led consultation processes, following an organisational structure or ‘medical’ model method of engagement. Each of these processes treats the community participant as a recipient of services only, with no cognisance given to any of their skills in their ‘real life’ beyond the consultation process.

The terms co-design/co-production are frequently used to describe wider participation in the development of services but the terms of engagement are strictly within the parameters of the organisation/funders.

The ‘open market’ principle within the linear process and transformation of services entails the development of a supply chain, partnership or community development within the commissioning and tendering process. Partnership engagement and community development is often couched as a consultation process and may not lead to commissioned work.

This process takes place within the deficiency model – it does not acknowledge the skills within a community or target group that may aid some or all of its commissioned objectives and outputs. Instead, ‘capacity building programmes’ are developed and provided in order to ‘ensure’ that VCSE organisations or community groups develop skills to be ‘efficient’ in delivering within the linear process, if they are successful within the tendering process.  

PART TWO – Community Engagement – principles and models

Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), people and communities

This section identifies different hypothesis and models to that of the Linear Process i.e. for community engagement to be effective and efficient, it must hold the view that ‘everyone is an asset’.

Individuals, and therefore communities, are the core of public realm funded activities. The majority of ‘social welfare’ provision perceive such individuals, through linear process restricted data, as having needs that need resolving i.e. the ‘deficiency model’.

The social welfare element of public sector expenditure, health, care (and education) tend to view, and therefore plan, services for ‘people and communities’ (those with ‘needs’), as recipients or beneficiaries of services. Services are planned within a deficiency  model, identifying ‘problems’ to be resolved, services to be provided and skills for the participant/recipient to learn or acquire. Problems and issues are identified through closed data analysis of restricted data, with services provided for individuals by ‘professionals’

An engagement/development ‘asset based’ approach to communities, target groups etc., could have a much greater impact through the acknowledgement of the skills and experiences of participants. Identifying individual and organisational learning and training needs, engaging in decision making, utilising locally-sourced data and intelligence, and accommodating these resources in a new decision-making process, could have a quantifiably positive impact on outputs and outcomes related to identified needs.

An ‘asset-based’ model, where communities play a more active role in the design and delivery of services from which they and others will benefit, is potentially far more productive than the linear process. It does, however, require a significant public realm paradigm shift in planning and delivering services and activities for it to have noteworthy effective on community engagement and impact. Such a model provides an opportunity for statutory services to be enriched and enhanced by acknowledging and harnessing inherent and/or latent skills within communities. It changes a deficit model of resolving perceived ‘deficiencies and difficulties’, into an asset-based model, acknowledging the role that individuals and communities collectively can play in designing, developing and delivering programmes to address mutually agreed issues. (fig 3)

As a point of clarification, the term ‘community’ is used to describe a common bond of interest, issue, culture or geography, acknowledging that such ‘communities’ are as diverse in skills and engagement as they are broad in interest and culture. They may be organised in ‘constituted groups’ (charities, incorporated voluntary organisations etc.), faith based or unincorporated groups, etc. They may wish to deliver services, to be involved in the planning or just to support people in their ‘community’.

Asset-based, as well as community development activities, tend to try and value all individuals, their skills knowledge and experience and believe they can add something to transformational activity. Conversations, listening and talking are core activities in acknowledging and utilising community ‘assets’ i.e. people.

The paradigm shift required by public realm organisations and institutions in modifying their approach to community is highlighted in Dan Duncan’s ‘ABCD, Toolkit’a practical manifestation of Asset Based Community Development, The New Paradigm for Effective Community Impact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 2 New paradigm for effective community impact, Dan Duncan

The table in Fig 2 provides a clear distinction between a Needs/Deficit Based model, as delivered within the Linear process, and an Asset-Based process.

The Asset-Based approach is more often associated with community engagement provision. It is not beyond the bounds of reason to believe that such principles can be incorporated into a new design process for public realm services. While community and asset developments often focus on localised, neighbourhood, activity and shy away from participation in wider service development, it does not mean that such a principle cannot be used to enhance service provision, as long as the public realm process acknowledges the equality of partnerships and skills.

Additional information concerning Asset Based principles can be found at

The Welfare State Is An Extension Of Us, Not A Replacement For Us

The Paradox of the Marketplace

Models of engagement

While community development and ABCD can be guiding principles of service development, two models of engagement outline how the principles enshrined within the linear process can be challenged and modified.

Acknowledging that any service development is primarily an amelioration process, these models explore interventions at various levels and by various ‘partners’

Both models explore partnership, the Three Fields Development (fig 3) identifying the compartmentalisation of support and the Ring of Confidence (fig 4) identifying distinct roles that partners can play in supporting an individual.

 

THREE FIELD DEVELOPMENT – The Three Field™ process was outlined within a document published by RnR Organisation in July 2015

This model compartmentalises health and social care into three distinct components or Fields.

Field One – formal public sector (statutory sector) intervention – including Health provision, Care, Local Authority Services etc. These are developed and lead by ‘public sector’ professionals delivering statutory provision or essential services.

Field Two – the structured supply chain, including activities and services that support statutory services. Projects receive funding from a variety of sources, public realm as well as additional sources e.g. Big Lottery Fund, charitable trusts etc.

  • Projects are delivered predominantly through VCS organisations.

  • Projects and organisations form part of the statutory service supply chain and support partners. Projects are not standardised or enveloped by legislation [statutory provision] as are services in ‘Field One’.

  • Additional/external funding is however, increasingly related to needs identified through public sector data, and delivered with agreed milestones and outcomes.

Field Three – community activists and volunteer support, as individual assets, within community organisations or service provision. Individuals are involved as volunteers, providing support to beneficiaries of programmes, and they may also be beneficiaries of a service, linked to and supported by a community focused service provider.

 

 

 

 

 

 Fig 3 The Three Field Model.

RING OF CONFIDENCE (Fig 4).  – The Ring of Confidence™, developed by our colleagues in pocZero, acknowledges the ‘support’ surrounding an individual at any time in their life. In the diagram below, the blue circles denote statutory services while the others denote community services.

At any one time, an individual may receive support from a variety of services, or they may receive none at all, but the services are considered to be available.

Such services and support will alter throughout the lifetime of an individual so, while the titles attached to the circles (components) within the ‘ring’ may change, the relationship between the components and the support offered to or received by the individuals will not change.

Both Three Field™ and Ring of Confidence™ models appreciate the potential role of community/asset based development as part of a paradigm shift in planning and delivering the necessary changes to public realm systems thinking as part of a transformation of services.

 

Fig 4 Ring of Confidence™ (pocZero)

A third, intermediary model, BOXES OF SUPPORT™, provides a link between the two separate models.  The ‘boxes’ represent public realm services and community support identified in both the Three Field™ and the Ring of Confidence™ Models.

The Boxes Of Support acknowledge and compartmentalise support available to and/or required by individuals throughout their life or at specific stages within their life. The boxes identify ‘cogs’ to the ‘components’ identified within the Ring of Confidence™ and a clarity to constituent parts of each of the three fields.

The ‘boxes’ offer the basis of a ‘supply chain’ to be developed as part of a comprehensive ‘offer’ of support to individual throughout their life. While the Three Field™ Model and Ring of Confidence™ represent the nature of support for individuals the Boxes of Support™ identify specific elements of that support, statutory, community, family or volunteer.

Boxes outlined in Fig 5 are not comprehensive but indicative of the type of support that is available. The Boxes of Support™ concept acknowledges that, throughout an individual’s life, engagement and support with agencies and ‘communities’  can differ, therefore the content of the boxes can change or undertake a different role at different or specific stages.

It is crucial that, in any development or transformation provision, the support to individuals is the acknowledgement of the role of the ‘content’ of all the boxes, and the potential co-ordination of some of the boxes, and an acknowledgement of communication between the boxes supporting the individual.

Fig 5 Boxes Of Support™

These models acknowledge that community and asset-based activity can be developed, and often is, separate to public realm strategic service development. The models provide an outline that constructively facilitates and utilises community and asset engagement in the development, design and implementation of services, compartmentalising specific supports that encircle an individual as they come into contact with support services.

Compartmentalisation of services enables more specific categorisation of activities, enhancing programme planning activity, clarifying the specific and constructive role which assets and community organisations can play.

These two models are local to activity in and around Birmingham, and there may have been other structures designed by other organisations in other areas. Component 5 [as yet unpublished] identifies baseline processes that should be adopted in developing community engagement processes within a community and asset-based ethos.

It is essential to acknowledge that, while the ‘assets’ may be primarily unpaid volunteers, their role in any development should not focus on or emphasise the ‘free staff’ that may become available to a service, filling gaps created by cuts to services. Neither should the emphasis on community engagement focus on the role of public realm employed community development staff, or staff with a ‘community brief’.

Traditional public realm community engagement programmes, and staff remain focused on delivery within the Linear Process, within its ethos and objectives. This is not community/asset-based engagement.

The emphasis should be placed on the development or engagement of individuals who live in, or have a connection to, a community of geography, interest or culture. The process should utilise and acknowledge the skills and knowledge of the ‘assets’ in developing support and activities within communities, neighbourhoods/localities, and playing an active role in service identification, design and delivery.

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…”

How do you review your digital footprint?

post revised and updated Mar 2018

TWEAKING SOME PRACTICES: IT’S NOT ALL OR NOTHING

Having discussed wider and strategic issues in the previous two articles in this series (Smart Cities: smarter VCSE and Digital governance) we thought it necessary in this article to provide some practical guidance for organisations about how to incorporate such activities into their operational activities.

MODIFICATIONS

This is a process of making modifications and not necessarily making wholesale changes within your organisations or practice.

All organisations use some form of IT and therefore have an existing digital footprint (“one’s unique set of traceable digital activities, actions, contributions and communications that are manifested on the Internet or on digital devices” – Wikipedia).

Organisations use technology to monitor activity and therefore have access to specific and bespoke data.

WEBSITES

Websites are commonplace for most organisations and provide an excellent shop window for services and activities but do we make the best use of them, including to meet and collaborate with others?

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

As a sector we are now hearing a great deal about digital transformation – there are individuals and organisations that would advise us as to how to maximise our digital presence and data footprint but, unless organisations understand and own their own journey, they will not get the full benefit of the activity.

This article therefore provides some guidance as to how to review your activity

DO YOU KNOW WHAT DATA YOU KEEP?

Do you believe that you could improve how you manage your digital footprint?

Have you:
• Discussed with your board how technology might help with your work?
• Identified staff processes and progress?
• Identified any time constraints?

DIGITAL FOOTPRINT

Does your digital footprint tell your story, celebrate your successes, and promote the numbers (people, events, networks, outcomes) you achieve, the issues you address, the impact you make?
How do you market or promote your organisation?

Do you use leaflets, networking, blog, social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), your website?

DIGITAL BY DESIGN

• What data do you keep about your activities, your users, your funding sources, other?
• How do you present your data? In annual reports, in funding applications, in other publications?

EXPLORING YOUR DIGITAL PRESENCE

We have divided an organisational digital presence into two distinct categories: fixed and fluid.

FIXED

Fixed digital includes websites and other IT processes. While the organisation has input into such activity, such resources can be inflexible, often purchased and maintained externally, used to promote and record organisational activity.

Web presence (fixed): What does it say about you, what information do you share, who is/are your target audience(s)? Develop a digital presence that tells your story, using narrative and data to represent impact and outcomes that are being achieved, and not just the information that represents how you fulfil contract obligations. What does your website say about your organisation?

FLUID

Social Media (fluid/flexible): Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp.

What does your use of social media say about your organisation? With social media, often controlled and administered in-house, you have more flexibility over your digital presence and can use this media to portray more intimate insights into the organisation.
Who manages your Facebook page, LinkedIn organisation page, Twitter account, website content? You, your staff and board can decide what stories get told using as many or as few of these platforms as make sense for your organisation – go where your users are.
Do you measure the impact of your marketing? Blogpost reads, e-bulletin circulation, Facebook followers, leaflet distribution, LinkedIn connections, Twitter followers and re-tweets, website use – create a baseline using analytics, and monitor changes so you can stay in the loop.

PEER TO PEER LEARNING

You can interact with peers from your sector in this area at various events and meetup groups. Peer to peer learning with other non-profits about using technology to achieve outcomes is a great way to learn and practice new ideas in a safe and supportive environment.

EVENTS

BarCamp Non Profits unconference brings together people from tech and digital with people from non-profits (charity, academic, government, arts and culture, etc) to exchange ideas and learning, in London

Net Squared Midlands: tech for social good is a West Midlands-based tech for good group, part of Net Squared a global network, with regular free events for people interested in using web or mobile technology for social good. “NetSquared brings together nonprofits and activists, tech leaders and funders, and everyone who’s interested in using technology for social change”.

NFP tweetup – informal evenings of thought-provoking sessions, sharing and discussion focused on how not-for-profit organisations can make the best use digital media and technology, in London

Tech for Good Near You – online real time searchable map of tech for good events in the UK and Ireland

VCSSCamp (Voluntary and Community Sector Support) is an unconference for people from VCS local infrastructure organisations to meet and talk about the ways they use digital tools and technology in their work; annually in Birmingham, other places by arrangement with the organisers

MANAGING DATA

Data management tools (some are open source software) allow you to have more control over data about your organisation, your area and your issues.

Your organisation could make use of free online tools to find, manage and visualise data such as:

and

This is a process of making modifications and not necessarily making wholesale changes within your organisations or practice.

TIMELINE AND ACTIVITY

Engaging in the above activity may look like a great deal of commitment – it isn’t.

We would estimate a maximum commitment of 20-30 minutes per day. Make it a part of your weekly timetable and activities and develop an organisational ‘cultural’ commitment to increasing your digital and data literacy.

It is more about doing things differently, adjusting how you work, making more efficient use of IT and digital.

WHAT NEXT?

If you or your organisation wants some strategic help to take any of these ideas forward, please contact us for a discussion about how we might help you progress.

READING

OTHER ARTICLES IN SERIES:

Smart Cities: smarter VCSE

Digital governance

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.

Digital skills: looking at the data – Part Two

The first of these two posts was originally published in Sept 2016; both posts reflect the latest data in various reports, including the second annual Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2017: Benchmarking the digital and financial capability of consumers in the UK, and the fourth annual UK Business Digital Index 2017: Benchmarking the digital maturity of small businesses and charities in the UK

This post is Part Two of two posts:

Part One looks at some data on online and digital skills in the UK population as a whole

and

Part Two looks specifically, at 2 regions of England (West Midlands and East Midlands) where we are working with some people in smaller charities and some people in the tech communities.

PART TWO

We at RnR Organisation are working to increase and improve basic digital skills and use of technology in smaller charities in order for them to achieve their aims more effectively. This second post looks at digital skills in UK SMEs and charities, including in the West Midlands and East Midlands.

Basic Digital Skills

Basic digital skills are defined as:

1.      Managing information

2.      Communicating

3.      Transacting

4.      Creating

5.      Problem solving

Basic digital skills in SMEs by region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barriers to doing more online for SMEs by region

Basic digital skills in charities by region

 

 

 

Tech for good at a bad time

So it snows, and you have to cancel the seasonal market for which you’ve been preparing for the last few weeks, or even months. There are so many disappointed people – you, the organiser, your staff, your stallholders, their potential customers.

You and your staff have allocated time and resources, stallholders have prepared and/or refreshed products and services, customers were expecting to see and probably buy something new.

A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE?

Before completely abandoning the market, maybe there’s a viable alternative to cancelling it. Stallholders will have prepared­­ products and services for sale, and many of them will have been planning to offer customers some special offers or discounts.

What about creating and organising an online virtual market on your website, or other shared platform, offering at least some of the above?

A ‘VIRTUAL’ MARKET

This ‘virtual’ market could start whenever the actual market was due to start, and run up to whenever the season ends. You could use posts in your social media channels and have a catchy unique hashtag, which both stallholders and customers can re-use and cross-post.

Stallholders could submit some copy/video about their products/services for you to use (reasonable quality video can now be done on a smartphone) – they can make whatever they were planning to have had/sold/displayed at the actual market look as good as they can make it.

POTENTIAL BENEFITS

What are the potential benefits that could happen with a ‘virtual’ market? You and staff could get to use the allocated time and resources in a slightly different and creative way, stallholders could still show off their products and services, and customers, maybe even more than would have turned up in person, could still see and possibly buy something, and they might also recommend the market to their contacts – bonus marketing!

ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?

We know that not every organisation is set up for adapting to a situation like this. We know that not every organisation can yet take payment online or over the phone. We also know many smaller organisations don’t have a website, Facebook page or other online presence. These cases illustrate what we, for some time, in our business RnR Organisation, have been saying needs to be happening in our sector.

Non profits, voluntary sector organisations and social enterprises need to be using available technology, possibly in ways they haven’t tried before. A lack of digital skills and no organisational culture to use technology in our organisations and businesses can obviously be overcome, but, in this case, having an online presence where they can display, promote and sell their wares will have given your stallholders a proven competitive advantage over those who didn’t have one.

We want to encourage organisers to consider running virtual events online when opportunities like this arise, possibly having it as a Plan B when they start planning any future markets or similar events.

NEED SOME PRACTICAL HELP?

We hope this post also encourages those in our sector without an online presence to think about why that is, and how they can plan to address that.

We’re here if you want to talk to us about practical ways of doing something about it.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tech Talks And Tips From YouTube: Jan 2017: Wakelet

The 2nd largest Search Engine in the world, YouTube processes more than 3 billion searches a month. 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute.

We spent some time at the beginning of this Net Squared Midlands meetup talking about how we search YouTube using filters etc, and then co-organiser Pauline shared some short ‘How to’ clips she had curated from YouTube.

We also had time for a lightning talk about Code Club from Tim Wilson

The full Wakelet of the event is here: Tech Talks And Tips From YouTube: Net Squared Midlands

Asset-based transformation: an introduction

Fig 1 is our first design of such a model. We will, in the coming months, develop this design and model. This will be done through discussion with commissioners and community activists to enable a robust, fundable and sustainable model to be designed that recognises the importance of all participants within the process.

31i-three-field-model

Fig 1 ASSET BASED COMMUNITY HEALTH OPERATIONAL MODEL – 1ST DRAFT

The development of this process is only part of our thinking.

For this model to be implemented systemically, ensuring success and sustainability, we would argue that there is a need for true transformation of the public realm funding processes, to review its attitude and opinion of VCSE / community groups, and their role in service provision.

Figs 2-4 outline our thinking about changes to the public realm funding decision making process.

We promote the use of data from wider sources than those currently used. We outline an asset based approach that should be adopted to support services, not because utilising community assets is a cheaper option in time of public realm budget cuts, but because community assets are an essential and skilful resource than can optimise the impact of projects.

In the coming months we will expand on these designs exploring current process, Fig 2 Traditional (Established) Model (yellow section on left), and the ‘market’ development of a supply chain. This diagram also explores the Product Development Process, (brown section on right), which is supposedly assimilated into the supply chain process.

40-transformation-1

Fig 2 TRADITIONAL (ESTABLISHED) MODEL, PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

Fig 3 Current Ecosystem, Design Process, Wider Data Proposal explores what impact the term ‘transformation’ has had on the ecosystem, with the yellow and blue sections identifying a “delivery disconnect” in the sustainability of income from any ‘product’ developed within the supply chain.

This figure also provides an outline of the ‘Design Process’(grey section), as well as outlining a Wider Data Proposal (green section).

These last two sections form part of ‘absolute’ processes, processes that, together with the Product Development Process, are external to the system but should be incorporated within it, if true transformation is to take place.

40-transformation-2

Fig 3 CURRENT ECOSYSTEM, DESIGN PROCESS, WIDER DATA PROPOSAL

The last sheet, Fig 4, incorporates elements of our previous work, Three Field Asset Based Community Development (green section), together with structures developed by Poc Zero with whom we are working to develop transformational proposals. Poc Zero’s Ring Of Confidence, is augmented by Boxes Of Support (orange section). The final section Developing The Dojos (purple), begins the exploration of how community organisations can be engaged as ‘peers’ within the delivery and process, designed or developed through public realm funding.

40-transformation-3

Fig 4 RING OF CONFIDENCE, BOXES OF SUPPORT, THREE FIELD ACTIVITY

The Operational Model, Fig 1, and subsequent transformational designs, Figs 2-4, place asset engagement and development at the core of the activity.

We believe that communities, assets, volunteers, whatever label is used, should not be seen as an aid to public realm funding cuts.

Communities and individuals, irrespective of their issues, can be assets to a programme but, generally, projects/programmes are developed within a deficiency model, activities to rectify deficiencies.

We at RnR put communities at the core of activities and model how both public organisations, Fig 1 and public realm funding can be transformed to accommodate their resources and assets, Figs 2-4.

This is what we believe to be true transformation.

If you are interested in discussing our designs or activities, please contact us to discuss how we can work together for you to achieve your outcomes and demonstrate your impact.

 

Pauline Roche

Ted Ryan

September 2016 

All images © copyright RnR Organisation except for Ring of Confidence © copyright Poc Zero