Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.

X

What do you wish you’d known when you started blogging? Tips from @mindwaves1

As part of our work on Mind Waves, Third Sector Lab’s @rosiehopes was asked to deliver a session on blogging at Glasgow Women’s Library.

The workshop participants were totally new to blogging, so rather than getting bogged down with technical stuff, we focussed on top tips from other novice bloggers. This presentation is essentially crowd-sourced from Mind Waves Community Correspondents, most of whom have lived experience of mental health problems.

Here’s their top tips based on their first six months of the project, with links to posts from Mind Waves. What would you add? What do you wish you’d known when you started blogging?

Suicide alert app #samaritansradar – innovative and practical use of technology

A post from @rosiehopes, who manages mindwavesnews.com: a mental health citizen journalism project run in partnership by Third Sector Lab and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

There are few things that take more courage than admitting publicly that you feel suicidal.

Imagine picking up your phone, writing and re-working a tweet over and over again and then pressing tweet to announce to your followers that you can’t cope. And then imagine… nothing.

It’s nothing personal. It’s probably just that your closest online friends were busy at the time you sent it. Maybe they were in bed, or in a meeting. Maybe their feeds were too full of cat videos or the latest breaking news. Maybe a few people saw it, but thought someone else would respond. But imagine how that would feel. Imagine what could happen next.

The @samaritans have launched a new app that notifies you when someone you follow tweets statements that could suggest they are suicidal. The Samaritans Radar sends an alert when someone says things like “tired of being alone”, “hate myself”, “depressed”, “help me” and “need someone to talk to” in a public tweet.

It’s a clever charity use of technology that goes beyond fundraising and “raising awareness”. This is about the Samaritans achieving one of their key objectives by putting the power to address suicidal thoughts in the hands of individuals and networks.

Of course, the system won’t be perfect. We’re just as likely to get an alert when someone says they want to die of embarrassment as when they express suicidal thoughts. But that’s okay. I don’t think anyone is looking for an algorithm to replace human relationships. It’s up to us to assess whether it’s something to worry about.

I have often responded when someone has expressed these thoughts online. If it’s someone I don’t know, or I’ve been using a work account, I send a fairly generic tweet with phone numbers for the Samaritans and Breathing Space. If it’s someone I know, I’ll send a private message to let them know I’m concerned.

I don’t know if it’s made a difference. But when it comes down to it, it’s just been luck that I’ve been online when it’s happened. The thought that someone would be shouting into the void and hear nothing back is terrifying.

It is so good to see a charity like Samaritans using technology in a positive way to provide a real solution to a real problem. This puts the power to make a difference right into people’s hands.

The app is free and you can download and activate it here.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts or you’re worried about someone else, contact Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87.

10 Halloween social media, fundraising and content gems for non-profits

11 must-read digital inclusion reports and case studies

I’ve been thinking a lot about digital inclusion for various reasons, so  I thought it would be worthwhile sharing some of my research. So here’s my eleven essential digital inclusion resources and research papers. There’s a definite Scottish focus to these and it’s worth noting they’re in no particular order:

1. Spreading the benefits of digital participation | The Royal Society of Edinburgh
Launched today, this report outlines findings and recommendations on how barriers to digital inclusion can be overcome so that everyone in Scotland can benefit from the digital revolution. The research considers in depth questions on the responsibilities of a digital society.

2. Digital Participation: A National Framework for Local Action | The Scottish Government
This document sets out the Government’s plans to build upon the progress being made in developing world class digital connectivity. Section 6 will be of particular interest to third sector professionals.

3. Cultures of the internet | Oxford Internet Surveys
78% of the UK population said that they use the Internet. Does this large proportion of Internet users in Britain herald the rise of a common Internet culture, or are beliefs and attitudes about the Internet as diverse as opinions can be across the general population?

4. Digital participation and the third sector | Chris Yiu, SCVO
Chris Yiu, Director of Digital Participation at SCVO, spoke at Social Media for Social Good and at #BeGoodBeSocial in July about the digital inclusion role the third sector plays plus he touched on the need for a digital-first approach to services.

5. Get IT together case studies | Citizens Online
Tons of useful case studies from digital inclusion projects across the UK. Scroll down the page for the Scottish examples.

6. Scotland’s digital future: A strategy for Scotland | The Scottish Government
A few years old now, Scotland’s Digital Future: A Strategy for Scotland sets out in detail how the Government intend to achieve their digital ambition. The strategy looks at the four key areas of public service delivery; the digital economy; digital participation and broadband connectivity.

7. Making Digital Real: Case Studies of How to Help the Final Fifth Get Online | Carnegie UK Trust
The Carnegie UK Trust’s 7 Digital Participation Tests and 6 Case Studies of successful local projects that are tackling digital exclusion in new and innovative ways.

8. Offline and left behind | Citizens Advice Scotland
Only half of CAB clients have an internet connection at home. 36% of respondents said they never used the internet and a further 11% said they hardly ever used it. Does a digital by default approach to welfare benefits could exclude some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society from accessing the very services they rely upon?

9. Wealth of the web: Broadening horizons online | Age UK
The report looks at the obstacles to older people being online, which range from lack of interest to financial cost and lack of training and support as well as the drivers behind getting older people online which include family support and specific interests and hobbies. It’s London-focused but incredibly useful for those of you working with older people.

10. Across the divide: Tackling digital inclusion in Glasgow | Carnegie UK Trust
Who is offline in Glasgow? Why are people in Glasgow offline? Research and recommendations for tackling digital participation within Scotland’s largest city.

11. Media Literacy: Understanding Digital Capabilities | BBC
A useful overview of digital skills by region, socio-economic profile, etc.

Any essential reports or resources I’ve missed? Leave the url in the comments below.

What was the impact of the Commonwealth Games on Scottish charities?

During the Commonwealth Games, our Director Ross McCulloch @thirdsectorlab caught up with Sara Thomas @lirazelf  as part of #citizen2014 to give his views on how the games would affect Scottish charities.

Here’s his take, but three months on, does it hold true? Do you feel as optimistic about the Commonwealth legacy now that the flags are gone and the sunshine has faded? Let us know.

 

Digital Scotland: future-proofing the third sector

We recently worked with the Health and Social Care Alliance on their #ourfuture14 conference. You can see the storify that our social reporter team produced here. 

Our Director Ross has also contributed to ‘Imagining the Future’ – a collection of think pieces providing insight into some of the essential ingredients for shaping a fairer, healthier future Scotland. Below is the full piece from the document.

 

Digital Scotland: Future-proofing the third sector

The Scottish Government has a bold ambition: Scotland should be a world-leading digital nation by 2020. It’s hard to argue against that – Independent or not it’s clear Scotland needs to embrace new technology if we are to have a truly diverse, robust economy. The Scottish Government’s ‘Digital Future’ strategy outlines four key strands: connectivity, digital public services, digital economy and digital participation. The Scottish third sector has a pivotal role to play, particularly around digital participation and public service delivery. But without a fundamental shift in thinking there is a danger the third sector will be left behind – along with vast swathes of the population.

30% of Scots don’t have basic digital skills. That figure rises to 50% of people with disabilities and 60% where the individual has no qualifications. 15% of Scots have never used the internet. A Citizen’s Advice Scotland survey found 36% of their clients have never been online. These stark figures highlight a massive societal gap that needs to be addressed if we are to achieve that 2020 vision of a digital Scotland. Access to physical technology and connectivity, particularly in rural areas, are important. But for me they’re not the big issues. We need to ensure people have basic skills needed to get online and embrace the internet. That word ‘embrace’ is key. Oxford University looked at why people choose not to use the internet in their everyday lives – 82% of respondents were ‘not interested’. Researchers found no evidence that these people are restricted from going online. They simply don’t care. For many older, disabled and unemployed people their first foray into the digital world will be mandatory online-only benefits claim forms – hardly an inspiring start. In a sense digital inclusion is more about social barriers than technological ones.

Recent research on digital exclusion from the Carnegie UK Trust recommends that ‘trusted intermediaries, such as voluntary workers, community development workers…can help to deliver the personalised, differentiated approach that is needed to help different groups of citizens in Glasgow to get online’. So third sector staff and volunteers will be key in ensuring the digitally excluded are skilled and enthused but it’s also worth thinking about that other strand of the Scottish Government’s digital strategy – digital public services. I believe the third sector can deliver innovative, effective services through a ‘digital-first’ approach. Of course we will always need face-to-face interaction with service users but let’s not use digital exclusion as an excuse for inaction. So could an Argyll & Bute counselling service save money and reach hundreds more isolated individuals if it allocated half its travel budget to video technology rather than the environmentally-unfriendly, time consuming practice of counsellors driving all over the region?

My experience on Foundation Scotland’s grants committee, chairing other funding panels and working with Scottish charities in my role at Third Sector Lab tells me that two fundamental areas need to be addressed to get the voluntary sector ready. First we need a skilled workforce ready to ask how digital technology can help us deliver cost-effective services that make a real difference to the lives of Scottish people; we need digital champions within every Scottish non-profit. Secondly we need funders to understand the difference digital can make and put their money where their mouth is. We don’t necessarily need dedicated funding streams – digital to should permeate all areas of the funding landscape. We also need to ensure grants officers have the skillset to objectively assess tech-based project applications from charities and social enterprises. Once we make that shift I believe the Scottish third sector can lead the world in digital media for social good.

Imagining the future: our social reporting at #ourfuture14

We were asked to provide social reporting support to the Health and Social Care Alliance for their #ourfuture14 conference. Our @rosiehopes trained up a team of six volunteers, carers, staff and people with lived experience of health and social care services and let them loose with smart phones. None of them were too shy to ask difficult questions, as you can see here.

Thanks to everyone who spoke to us- it was a great day.

Five simple ways to get everyone in your organisation passionate about social media

I cannot believe I’m writing a piece on getting everyone in an organisation involved with social media in 2014, but the reality is most charities and public sector organisations are a long way off truly embracing the medium. Technology isn’t really the issue – it all boils down to trust. That isn’t to say that managers feel their staff will spend all day tweeting photos of their cat, but most don’t feel confident managing a strategic approach to using social channels.

While it’s easy to brush off social media as the responsibility of your marketing or communications person (if you’re lucky enough to have one), if you do, you’re missing a trick. Data shows that employees have greater reach, more influence and generate more revenue than official, branded organisation accounts. The organisation that taps into the reach and influence of its employees is much more likely to succeed in the social age.

So, if you’re tasked with making social media work within your organisation, how do you ensure everyone is on board? Here’s my five top tips which originally appeared in my article for the summer edition of Children in Scotland Magazine:

1. Show people that social media can help them get their job done
Staff don’t have an extra four hours in the week to ‘do’ social media. You need to show them how social media can help get their job done, how you can achieve your team’s goals and how you can reach your key audiences. You need a strategy. It’s a scary word, but, with a framework, you can create something meaningful and succinct.

2. Ensure people feel protected and empowered
If your social media policy was written by your IT-support person, it’s probably 15 pages long and terrifying as hell. He/she may be great at keeping your server ticking over, but they shouldn’t be single-handedly responsible for defining how your organisation communicates with the outside world. You need a policy that protects staff and your organisation, while making staff feel empowered and trusted, allowing them to experiment and drive your online communications. And it needn’t be more than one side of A4.

3. Create social media champions within each team
A strategy is great but without people driving it forward you’ll get nowhere. Start small and recruit social media champions who can get their team enthused – this also gives you a better opportunity to demonstrate impact to executive level staff. Give champions ownership of the channels they’re most experienced with and passionate about. Don’t make your video content champion the person who has never held a camera before.

4. Give volunteers and service users a meaningful role
At Third Sector Lab we spend a lot of our time training volunteers and service users to become social reporters for third sector conferences and events. The rich audio and video content these reporters create really tells the story of a conference in the way a written report cannot. How can you involve volunteers and service users in your online communications in a way that empowers them and tells their story?

5. Make sure the Chief Executive believes
The organisations that thrive in the social space are usually the ones who have a Chief Executive that values staff involvement. Just look at Young Scot – their online presence is driven by Louise MacDonald’s belief that social media can help bring about social good. More importantly she trusts her staff to get the job done using whatever tools necessary. While it can feel an uphill struggle at times, getting people from across the organisation involved in social media is worth the pain. People connect with people – they don’t connect with faceless, branded corporate accounts. If you want to use social media as a campaigning, fundraising and potentially service delivery channel you need to remember that.

Do you have any top tips for getting staff involved in your social media presence?

Obama v Romney – Social Media Election 2012 [Infographic]

Social media will play a key role in the outcome of the 2012 US Presidential Election. Who will come out on top – Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? Our infographic highlights the key stats from the campaign, showing who wins the major social media battle grounds. You might be surprised!

VIEW FULL SIZE.

Feel free to download our infographic for your blog or Facebook page folks.

It’s all change

If you’ve been following this blog you’re probably a little dissapointed at the level of activity recently. I’ve not posted here in a while because I’ve started using rossmcculloch.com for my personal thoughts, I’ve been busy organising Be Good Be Social and, most importantly, I’ve been taking on a lot of new client work.

The Third Sector Lab site you’re on right now is undergoing a complete rethink. We need to share some of the great work we’ve completed recently for clients like Tramway Theatre, ENABLE Scotland, Adrian Ashton, Think! and Relationships Scotland. We also need to let people know what digital media services we offer and what makes us different.

So…for just now you can get in touch with me via @ThirdSectorLab or email me ross[@]thirdsectorlab.co.uk if you’ve got any questions about what we do or if you’d like to discuss potential projects. A shiny new Third Sector Lab website will be revealed soon.