Delegates at the first Digital evolution, local action conference left yesterday’s event inspired with new ideas about how to put technology to use in their day-to-day work.
Even Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society, talked about his own ‘bingo moment’ of inspiration, finding out about the new ‘Community How To’ service which launched at the conference. It’s set to help non-profit organisations find and share digital tools that can help them do more of what they do best.
He said: “It's excellent news that the voluntary and community sector are meeting challenges by embracing digital technology - and that they want to do more in this space. That's why I want to encourage organisations to use the Online Centres Foundation’s Community How To service, which will offer them new exciting ways to inspire, involve and connect people so together they can build even stronger communities.”
The Conference took place at the BT centre in London, and brought together grassroots community organisers with technologists and policy makers.
While Nick Hurd stressed the importance of community organisations as the only truly trusted public intermediaries, other speakers offered advice and inspiration. Founder of Localgiving.com and Holidayrentals.com, Marcelle Speller, talked about how to meet the challenges of fundraising, and Dan Thompson, creator of #WeWillGather, shared his experiences of recruiting volunteers and building social action on the internet. An international angle was given by Ken Banks of Kiwanja.net, who reminded delegates to keep in mind the social problems they were trying to solve, and then to think creatively about the shape and scale of their solutions.
As well as the plenary sessions, delegates also got to attend interactive workshops, and talk to other community organisations about how they use digital tools, how they’ve overcome resource and skills issues, and how they continue to maintain, manage, and moderate their online presence.
One conference delegate was Kim Wood, from Blackpool Community and Voluntary Service . He said: “We heard from some really brilliant speakers and I’ve got some great ideas to take away – for instance top tips from Dan Thompson about different ways to use Twitter that just hadn’t occurred to me. It was also great to meet and spend time with other community organisations, and to feel like we’re all part of a bigger picture. Everyone attending was willing to try every trick in the book – and on the internet – to do more for the people we work with.”
Conference Chair Lord Jim Knight, former Schools and Employment Minister, is now keen to see how delegates like Kim are going to take their experiences from the conference and put them to use back home. He said: “It’s been a fantastic day, and I’ve learned a lot not just from the speakers but from the delegates I’ve been chatting with. We’ve seen how digital tools can make community work quicker, easier and more effective. We’ve had a day of talk – now it’s time for the action. I’m looking forward to hearing from delegates on #dela2012 and on the Community How To discussion forums about how the tips and tools they’ve taken away are enhancing their impact on the communities they serve.”
The Digital evolution, local action conference was organised by Online Centres Foundation, the organisation behind the national network of UK online centres. Speaker presentations, videos and a full conference report will be available shortly at www.ukonlinecentres.com/dela2012. See the Community How To service, now live at www.communityhowto.com.