Some fantastic stories of digital use across the Scottish third sector. Read on to be inspired.
Important: Opinions expressed by Digital Pioneer interviewees are their own and don’t represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.
Rachel Johnston, Organisational Support Worker from Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise tells us more…
Rachel: Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise (SVE) is Stirling’s local third sector interface (TSI). TSIs exist to provide support and guidance to third sector organisations centred around volunteering, social enterprise, third sector development and third sector voice and influence.
Rachel: While SVE has always used digital technologies to deliver our work, it’s perhaps only within the last 18 months that more of an emphasis has been placed on digital capabilities in response to our stakeholders and strategic aims. SVE’s social media platform is growing and developing and is now seen as an effective way for us to report third sector news, promote volunteering opportunities and engage with our partners and stakeholders. We have also looked at ways to improve internal communication as a small, busy team.
We have recently undertaken several changes but two I will focus on are and the use of Slack as a communication tool and a focus on social media, in particular Twitter to market our organisation and engage with our stakeholders.
Rachel: In 2015 SVE welcomed a new CEO, Natalie Masterson. I would say that Natalie was instrumental in encouraging and motivating the team to make digital change. Natalie came to us from an organisation that used digital and social media regularly, so not only was she a motivation but also a source of great support and knowledge.
Rachel: We started by identifying what we hoped to achieve. Our use of Slack came about because although we’re a small team, we have a lot of flexible working and home working so it could be difficult to know who was doing what. It’s also a means of sharing work and collaborating on projects from separate locations.
We also knew from previous feedback that there is still a lack of knowledge regarding what TSI’s do in the local area. We wanted to use social media more effectively to market ourselves and engage with our local stakeholders.
Rachel: Our CEO has been instrumental in driving forward digital change within the organisation, and I, as the Communication and Engagement Officer have been involved in the implementation. I administer our social media pages and was an advocate for using the tool such Slack, especially amongst staff who were unfamiliar with this way of working, and needed some further support and encouragement.
Rachel: With the use of social media we have reached many more service users. In the first three months we gained 100 more followers on Twitter and have engaged with many new organisations. Through using Slack in-house, communication is more streamlined, effective and staff are more aware of where others are and what they are working on.
It is hard to quantify figures but I would say that the recent changes made will have impacted around 200 people. We recently had 535 profile visits on Twitter and 21,000 impressions, so the impact can be very wide.
Rachel: As with most third sector organisations in this era, our main barrier is available resources. We are a small organisation with a wide remit to deliver. While Communications is a big part of my remit, I am also responsible for several other areas within the organisation. A large part of embracing digital is keeping up with its constant change and staying on top of new developments. Sometimes this can be hard to do with a limited amount of hours.
Another aspect of change which can be a challenge is encouraging all the team to buy into different ways of working. With the introduction of Slack for example, there was an initial fear from staff that it would be another thing to do and to keep on top of. However, within a couple of weeks staff were motivated when they realised it was much more effective than group emails, and we were even able to arrange our Christmas Lunch more efficiently which was obviously a high priority!
Rachel: It can seem overwhelming, especially if your knowledge of digital is limited, but through online resources, anyone can make a digital change. This in turn inspires you to do more as you begin to see the benefits it can reap, especially for a small organisation like ourselves.
You do need time to plan properly. Maintaining several channels can be time consuming. Think about what your organisation wants to achieve and what would meet your aims. Discuss as a team what purpose you want your social media to fulfil. Being clear from the start will allow you to focus on what will benefit your organisation the most.
Rachel: We are going to focus more on widening our social media platforms and which will be most effective for us. We have also discussed using Facebook Live in future to promote local volunteering opportunities. We have claimed our page on Good HQ and hope to encourage our volunteers to write reviews, as well as engaging with other local organisations with a presence on there.
Rachel: Joseph Rowntree Foundation for their ethos of encouraging all staff to get behind their Social Media, ‘Organisations don’t tweet, people do.’
Thanks to Rachel from the SVE team for sharing how they’re using digital in the third sector. We hope you’re feeling digitally inspired after reading it. Don’t forget to share it with your networks to keep the inspiration flowing and tell us what you think @digiscot using #digiscotpioneers.
If you’d like to help spread some more digital inspiration across the third sector then get in touch with us @digiscot and [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you and share it with our networks!