Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Charity Social Media Tool Kit

There is a new Charity Social Media Tool Kit available and developed by Zoe Amar and David Evans.  Its been very positively received in the sector press so we’ve taken a few minutes to have a look through with a view from our own research perspective.

There is certainly a lot of useful information provided, written in an easily accessible style and with lots of handy tips.  The chapter by chapter structure means that it’s easy to navigate the material but can also give the impression of a ‘straight-line’ or ‘top-down’ process.  This is probably unavoidable in this material but discussion of emergent processes might have been helpful for some readers.  This would be particularly relevant for organisations with complex partnering relationships or networks of stakeholders where an iterative approach might be more appropriate.

There are lots of very useful examples and case studies to illustrate different ideas and perspectives, which really bring the material to life.  Perhaps inevitably there is a lot of focus on the delivery of messages from a charity outward; there is a lot about ‘sharing content’.  There are many innovative ideas for this content but some notes of caution about use of images and personal stories would have been useful.  I was surprised not to see more discussion of consent and ethics in this respect.  This said there was some very useful advice on dealing with a crisis and the advice to ‘run a simulation’ is very sound.  Much of the focus here assumes that it is ‘staff’ who will be required to deal with these situations and more consideration of the roles volunteers might play and the pressures this might place them under would be useful to consider.  As someone who writes critically about generational stereotypes, I found the emphasis on ‘generation z’ in the final chapter unhelpful.  Rather, previous sections which consider the way in which aspects of  organizational cultures can encourage social media use might be more useful to explore.

Overall its great to see so much useful information pulled together in one place and we are sure it will be put to good use!



After the conference…part one

On Thursday and Friday last week Gillian and I attended the ‘Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference 2016’ in Nottingham.

This blog captures some of our highlights – more will no doubt follow.

Campbell Robb from Shelter kicked-off the conference in a plenary which reviewed the role of evidence and research in the voluntary sector and prompted much debate about how to generate impact and communicate effectively.

Shelter use comparing the cost of housing to a price of a chicken as a key means of communicating affordability, along with provocative terms such as ‘the nonstarter home’.

There was also an interesting comment about how researchers are often resistant to change and like to stick with familiar methods.  This certainly doesn’t fit our experiences as we aim to develop qualitative methods for research in the digital age.

There was also much debate about the different players in the sector and particularly the huge difference between organisations such as Shelter and much smaller, community based groups.


It was clear from reaction in the room that Campbell Robb’s presentation had got the audience thinking so during the lunch break we got ready for own on presentation and any difficult questions that might come our way!

First up in our session was Jurgen Grotz (NCVO/UEA) discussing different forms of volunteer brokerage, ranging from a ‘traditional’ volunteer centre involved in matching volunteers to available opportunities to those who might be paid.  The emergence of volunteer tourism was also discussed, you can apparently even cruise and volunteer!

Andrew Curtis (NCVO) then discussed the issue of employer-supported volunteering, and the challenges involved for voluntary organisations, employers and individual volunteers.  The need to clearly negotiate arrangements and once again broker volunteer opportunities was once again discussed.

Then it was our turn!  See our previous post for our slide highlights, and email if you’d like a copy of our paper.  Thanks to those who live tweeted the presentation!

Conference Preview!

This Thursday Gillian Symon and I will be presenting findings from our preliminary research at The Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference 2016 in Nottingham.  We are also looking forward to hearing lots from other researchers and practitioners as the conference programme is packed with great talks.  We will be tweeting via #VSVR2016 across Thursday and Friday this week via @VolExResearch, @DrKPritchard and @Gillian Symon.  Follow us for updates!

In the meantime as we finalise our presentation here are a couple of slides to whet your appetite!


VolEx NCVO 5SEP16 for blog

US regulation on sharing images poses challenging questions for volunteers

While confined to care homes in the US, the increasing regulation surrounding the use of images is worth reviewing.  The summary provided on the US care professional website, McKnights, probably provides far more detail than most will need but could also be a useful prompt for organisations to review their own policies.

In terms of volunteering, of particular interest here is that new US regulation uses as category of “staff” which includes volunteers and representatives of voluntary organisations.  Other points to note here are that the actual taking of an image (even if it is not shared) can be a violation and that consent is a particularly tricky issue.  The article suggests that sharing a photograph to a site such as facebook is almost certainly in breach of US regulations regarding protecting health information.  It concludes: “Nursing homes should review existing photography and social media training of staff (including vounteers and volunteer organizations), and consider refresher training (or develop such training if it does not already exist)” .

It seems that similar issues and concerns might apply across a range of care and service provision settings.  These raise important issues regarding the use of social media in these settings and highlight how even well intentioned use can cause problems.