Over the past few years I've seen friends and colleagues in the Third Sector lose funding from traditional funding bodies with statutory and trust funding drying up and competition for what remains is so stiff it's soul destroying. To the poor bod having to fill in more and more funding applications, chasing even the smallest pots of cash and competing against their partners in the sector, the return on the investment in time can be small but essential to survival.
As a person who donates cash to charities and non-profits it isn't always clear to me how the organisation is spending the money, say following a campaign, and it often feels like a disconnect between me and the organisation whose work I'm so supportive of. So the connective emotion that prompted the support isn't really reciprocated. You press the pay button on a website or you hand over a tenner and that's it.
How can Third Sector organisations take more control over their funding futures and how can donors get better connected to the organisations they support?
Crowdfunding and SoLoCo allows projects, causes and organisations to funders to connect directly. No judging panel, no filling in of a multitude of applications and no mystery surrounding the project you're helping to fund and what it's doing. Donations go right to the project via the SoLoCo website through PayPal and from the project's page on the SoLoCo site you can link to their social media (all projects using SoLoCo must open a Facebook Group page to keep funders up to date with project activities).
So now you have an opportunity to support national and local projects directly, have a stronger connection to that project and know that you're helping deliver essential services that are not offered by anyone else in the public or private sector.
Give in a different way.
Runners! Supporting charity in the run up to racing season? Why not give through SoLoCo?
Are you a Christmas time charity supporter? Log on to SoLoCo this time round.
Private sector! Mix it up by giving through this unique platform. You'll be the one on the cutting edge.
Someone like me who gives when they can? Check into SoLoCo, see what's happening and get a direct link to groups you really feel are working to make a difference for communities at a grassroots level. All the cool kids are doing it.
I've had the great fortune over this year to be involved in social media surgeries and social media briefings to formally and informally share my knowledge about using and planning to use social media with colleagues and community groups. The appetite for consultancy on social media is huge, especially in small grassroots groups who could never afford to hire someone in and mostly just need help to get over the threshold by establishing the why, the who and then the how in that order- I insist. There can be a lot of anxiety about using social media for engagement, either because skill levels are low or because entering the social media world is so exposing, but watching the anxiety turn into excitement and ideas is very rewarding. In turn I've learned so much from people I've helped- community walking groups taught me about the mind blowing digital resource exploration site Europeana (I defy you not to get obsessed with it) and how QR codes could be the future of a layered historic walk experiences, an Edinbuzz patient gave me the skinny on Edinburgh's Innertube project, a colleague exposed me to the interesting world of local government Trading Standards professionals using Twitter (who knew?) and a neighbour told me how useful it's been for people in her university course to use Twitter to announce updates to their website, communicate about work and share specific information. How else would I know about all these wonderful things without meeting people because of social media?
And so it goes on. I'll be joining a crack team of volunteer surgeons for a Be Good Be Social social media surgery during Social Media Week next week in Glasgow. I'm waiting with bated breath to find out who's booked in to meet with me to learn about social media but equally I can't wait to learn from them about their work and interests.
The Be Good Be Social surgery is being held on Wednesday September 21st. Sign up here.
Secret supper clubs. They're just a good idea. What's not to like? You sign up, you're contacted with an address and a menu, show up with wine in hand and eat in a stranger's house with other strangers. Secret supper clubs have all the attributes of what I consider a damn good time- food, booze and meeting new people.
Last night I had my first experience with a secret supper club in Edinburgh, Aoife Behan's My Home Supper Club. Named Molecular Spectacular, the night promised good food fashioned by a mad scientist and the results were fantastic. We were warmly welcomed into a big beautiful flat with a delicious glass of fruity vodka topped with a layer of dry ice fog and it wasn't long until the food started coming. Soft and crunchy balls of cheese and toast, delicate balls of liquor shots, fresh Vietnamese broth into which I injected noodles from a syringe, slow cooked beef with frozen horseradish and frozen beetroot and the hugest array of moulded jellies I've ever seen in my life. Everything was so delicious and the mysterious nature of some of the dishes made for great conversation around the table. Now, I don't have much in common with a table full of City bankers but the atmosphere and the reason for us being together in the first place meant I could have been at a table of train conductors and it would have been cool.
I'm also really impressed with Aoife's (and any supper club host's) willingness to open their home to strangers on a regular basis. The neurotic in me wonders about safety and insurance issues but hosting like this is the ultimate in humanity. It's good to know blind appreciation and trust of people is alive and well.
I'm really looking forward to doing it all again and I'm collecting local supper clubs on Twitter to keep up with the news. Follow Aoife @myhomesupper, The Crescent @CrescentDining, Meena Bahna @ChaiLounge77 for starters and I hope to see you around the table soon.
The riots in England generated a lot of conversation and chatter among my friends and acquaintances on social media channels. Generally, like in the press, there were two camps- the camp that that put blame at the door of a society that condemns poor communities and their young people to continuous generations of hopelessness (Camila Batmanghelidjh wrote about this beautifully) and the camp that sees punishment and threats of humiliation for young people disrespecting their communities as the solution to the problems, like what we're hearing from David Cameron. But there is something I have seen coming from my personal circles that I haven't seen so much in the press and that is unmitigated racism. From the mouths, Facebooks and mobiles of the people I would consider the least likely offenders came messages that were meant to be funny or profound but really were straight up racist. This confused me for all kinds of reasons- the profiles of riot offenders spanning the spectrum of our society and institutional racism perhaps being at the core of the riots among them.
Writer and radio broadcaster Shalom Auslander says there are so many reasons to dislike people, why go with colour? So when you feel your inner racist coming through, what is it you really dislike?
Last year I was asked to co-facilitate a break out group about using social media for community engagement at the annual meeting of Edinburgh's Community Councils. My partner for the evening was Martin Gallacher of Queensferry and District Community Council that, at the time, was the first Community Council in the city to use Facebook to communicate with existing members and to attract new members. It was all so groundbreaking and, despite the usual naysaying about the security of Facebook, people seemed interested in learning more about using social media, and the web generally, to engage people.
A year on and I was back with Martin and my work colleague Graham to the same meeting and the same breakout slot. Martin had a lot of really interesting updates including demographics (some mysterious) and good examples of engagement and sharing information through members posting photos and comments and Martin using Notes to present meeting minutes. Graham, who manages Edinburgh Council's South West Neighbourhood Facebook page, headed up the group with Martin this year (I was on the wings filming what turned out to be a horrible video) and he had a lot of good things to say about local government's place in the social media world- something that is still really hard for some people to get their heads around. Our audience was again mostly interested- there was furious note taking and great questions- with the obligatory cynic striking the balance. I think between Graham and Martin alone there is good practice to reference for Community Councils to get stuck in, however, I think there's a skills gap and I really hope that groups set up to help communities learn about using social media, like Edinbuzz, can be allowed to grow and reach out to share their expertise.
I think social media is ripe for local government and community groups to take advantage of. The benefits are immense and we just need to find and establish a way to get people going.
I spent a fantastic couple of hours last night at a taster session for Edinburgh's upcoming Social Innovation Camp in mid-June. Social Innovation Camp brings together friends and strangers to develop an idea that uses technology to meet a social need, 'matching technical skill with social need.' Ideas for developing at the two day camp in June are due Friday and I am collaborating with two work colleagues to submit an application for something that will allow people and their carers (formal and informal) to get help with last minute or small tasks like picking up milk or changing a light bulb. I think it's a fantastic idea that could be useful to carers of all sorts all over the country and we just need to pitch it right!
What do you think of the idea? Can you see people using this? Would there be any problems?
Check out our team's submission on the Social Innovation website.