See what your charity can learn from these digital champions

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Rebecca Curtis-Moss, in her role as a digital communications trainer, constantly comes across small charities which recognise a need to get online and use digital tools, but have no idea where to start. Here's her round-up of those doing a great job and what you can learn from them

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15th August 2016 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

Shift MS

A platform for MSers, by MSers, Shift MS has a fantastic range of free digital services for its members. Its stand-out project is MS Reporters, which aims to transform people with MS from being passive recipients of information on their condition, to active participants. This project trains people with MS to become citizen journalists, and as such, representatives of their community. It holds MS experts to account, and films its meetings to build a video library of expert knowledge that's accessible to the wider community. Here's an example:

Young Scot

Young Scot has come a long way from when I was at school, when one of its best benefits was a free cheeseburger at McDonald's! In the last decade, Young Scot has become a digital pioneer in the Scottish third sector. Brilliant content curators and boasting an impressive suite of social media channels, its digital communications never fail to impress. But that's not what I want to talk about here; instead, I'm going to focus on its rewards system. Young Scot Rewards provide a digital incentive for participation in activities both online and offline, including volunteering with local charities; filling out surveys on topics like health and wellbeing; and watching videos on important issues affecting young people. Rewards include tickets to gigs and shows and equipment. Its system currently has over 70,000 users in Scotland, and is an excellent example of how you could use digital space to influence social action.

Even if you don't have the capacity to offer something on this scale, there's still lots to be learnt from Young Scot. Regardless of size, resources or capacity, all charities can take basic steps to add value for their supporters and beneficiaries. I recently wrote a blog about what I learned about what MND Awareness Month taught Me about campaigning.

If you work with young people, you can contact Young Scot to set up reward points for your own young supporters.

Shelter Scotland

Last weekend, Shelter Scotland ran its first ever hackathon. For those of you wondering what I'm on about, a hackathon is when you get people together from various backgrounds across the digital and business sectors, so they can develop products such as mobile apps, websites, or any other online resource for social good. Among the housing and homeless related products created for over one gruelling weekend were a game to explain homelessness issues; a money saving app for people who don't have access to a bank account; and a social media chatbot, answering emergency housing questions in real-time.

Now, I know that many of you will be reading this sceptically, thinking there's no way that your charity could host a hackathon. In most cases, you're right: it takes a lot of resources. Luckily for you, though, there are plenty of hackathons looking for charity participants. So, if you're a small charity looking to develop an app or a website but don't have the technical knowledge, or can't afford agency fees, this is a golden opportunity for you.

And finally

I was recently involved in 8 Hours Overtime in Edinburgh, which vastly improved the digital presence of ten local charities, including Scottish Adoption, The Teapot Trust, and Crossing Countries. If this is something your charity would like to get involved in, keep an eye out on social media for call-outs for participants. 

It can be difficult to take that first digital step, but I can promise you that once you've done it, you'll never look back. 

Rebecca Curtis-Moss is communications, engagement and events coordinator at the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research.