Some BarCampNFP Thoughts

Welcome back, for regular readers (or anyone who follows my tweets) you’ll notice I’ve skipped a week. Penguin Day and #14ntc in Washington DC generated a lot of ‘thinking’ and ‘processing’ , so a blog will follow later.


With Pauline Roche at #barcampnfp

So back on UK time, Thursday was #barcampnfp. The unconference for people working for charities / voluntary (Not For Profit) sector who want to help their organisations do more and help more through use of digital technology.

The format is well established for this type of event and @spirals (Laila) did a grand job of keeping us all on track and on target through the co-creation of the agenda (and helped by her bell, generally throughout the rest of the day!)

Inevitably there are more sessions I wanted to attend than time to squeeze them in or that clashed with each other, but some points I learnt from the sessions attended are here.

  • We had a lively discussion about use of open source software in the first session. The ethos behind it and the collaborative community supporting it is more important than the up front cost of the software. It’s a mistake to think that using open source software such as CiviCRM is free and that other non-open source software is expensive. There is always a cost and a need for a technology plan that covers both software, setup and imprementation costs, the Gov.UK page about choosing which software to use sums this up very well. Other useful resources we mentioned included (Open Source Manuals), (Proprietary software and it’s Open Source equivalent) and the Social Source Commons which lists toolkits of websites aimed at those using technology in charities.
  • The session about engaging with your audience was useful as we covered ways to streamline the process for small orgs who don’t have a dedicated comms or social media officer. Simply setting up alerts on Twitter or Google for when your cause or organisation is mentioned or using Hootsuite and monitoring lists and serach terms had been very beneficial for some smaller organisations. We did conclude that in 2014 every charity does need to be monitoring these channels … and not just in the 9am-5pm slot!  As part of this the #nomakeupselfie hashtag inevitably raised and the importance of causes being responsive to mentions on social media and with the capacity to reply. Madeleine Sugden has written more about this subject here.
  • The ‘internal comms’ session felt a bit like a Yammer fan club meetup! Not a bad thing as it’s a good tool, but I’ve also now got Slack and Trello on my ‘must check out’ list. One point I don’t think we fully resolved though was, “what can be done about the staff and volunteers who say it’s too hard to use on-line collaboration sites, or even who don’t have an e-mail address”?
  • Finally in a group about supporters we talked about harnessing the enthusiasm and listening skills of your ‘super supporters’. These people aren’t paid members of staff or even volunteers, but believe in your cause or passionately support your campaign so tap into their tweets, let them blog and don’t try to micro-manage what they say, they’re possibly even more ‘on message’ than some staff or trustees!

At the drinks following the event I was talking with @paulineroche. #barcampnfp was a fabulous opportunity to talk digital and charities … But where were the very small organisations, the support providers (local leaders?) and the charity CEOs?? Do we need to spread the word wider for next time and make the event more accessible and more inclusive?

The Group Picture from Barcampnfp

The Group Picture from Barcampnfp

It’s hoped there will be more events like this (see what Matt Collins (CharityChap) is doing. The time feels right once more for this type of gathering (even outside of London), but is the wider sector ready to participate?