A Tiny Open Online Course for someone like you

seeding-change-from-within-tooc

If you’re reading our blog it’s likely that you are involved in some way in a community group, social enterprise, voluntary organisation, social movement, public sector organisation or funding organisation. In which case this Tiny Open Online Course from Organization Unbound and the Barefoot Guide Connection is designed for you! I think it’s quite different from the support which Dudley CVS offers face to face, which is why it felt worth sharing.

Seeding Change from Within will cover four themes across four weeks in October. Each invites you to explore ways in which your group or organisation’s internal ways of working are (or aren’t) aligned with your social change goals, in a light and enjoyable way.

The course will run through Facebook. If you sign up, each weekday over the four weeks you will receive an email inviting you to engage with the ‘learning nugget’ for that day- in the form of a short reading, exercise, provocative question, video clip, podcast or other materials. You can choose to keep to this daily schedule or dip into the material as it suits your schedule. Read more and sign up on the Organisation Unbound website.

Active Citizens in Dudley borough

active-citizens-logoWest Midlands Police are encouraging people to get actively involved in projects that they benefit from and which make a positive difference where they live. The Active Citizens programme was launched in June. West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: ”Community-spirited people who want to make real changes to the neighbourhoods in which they live and work should be celebrated. Active Citizens is a great opportunity to fund projects that makes people’s lives better and community’s safer and I would urge people to get involved.”

Dudley Police are taking a unique approach to delivery of the West Midlands Police Active Citizens fund. By collaborating with Dudley CVS they have helped to create an opportunity which is open to all potential active citizens, including children and young people. Our local approach to Active Citizens is starting with what we’ve already got. We’ve called it A Place To _

A Place To _ is connecting people, places and great ideas for projects. Anyone can start a project where they live. People who want to start projects will be supported to build their team, design and test out their ideas in real life, and access Active Citizens funding to take their project forward.

file_003

Ways to find out more and get involved

Visit www.aplaceto.net for information and updates, like A Place To on Facebook or follow @aplaceto_ on Twitter

Talk to us: Come along to a drop-in chat, the coffee is on us. See aplaceto.eventbrite.com for upcoming dates (please register if you will be coming along).

Be inspired: Register and come along to an Activate workshop to find out more, learn about imaginative projects from around the world (and right here in Dudley) and take the first steps to start something different where you live. See aplaceto.eventbrite.com for upcoming workshops.

Take part: Come along to projects which have started in Dudley, such as Trade School, Incredible Edible, Crafternoons in Coseley or Dudley SOUP.

Help project teams to form: If your group or organisation supports or works with people who might like to have a go at starting a project where they live, we can come and run an Activate session with them. Project teams will be given a free Activate Pack full of inspiring ideas, and ongoing free support to develop their ideas and access Active Citizens funding.

Start something: Ideas need to be tested in the real world. This can happen quickly with these kinds of projects – think in terms of days to weeks. Get in touch with us if you already have a team and an idea you’d like to try. Contact Lorna Prescott: lorna@dudleycvs.org.uk / 07501 722255

Get connected: Join us for a Bring & Share Supper on 16 November 2016 to get connected to people who share your passion who want to help you.

Offer A Place To_ : Great projects need great places. If your group or organisation has a space people could use to start participatory projects – whether it’s a small room, a large kitchen or a bit of land outdoors that things could happen on, please do let us know.

Become an Active Citizens Assessment Panel member: We are looking for people to join a pool of assessors who will help West Midlands Police to make decisions on Active Citizens funding in Dudley borough. Panel members will be briefed and supported. There will be 4 panel meetings per year, but you can commit to just one if you wish. Contact Lorna Prescott: lorna@dudleycvs.org.uk / 07501 722255

TechSoup 2016 Digital Storytelling Challenge

We know that many groups and organisations we support are eager to learn more about ways to share their stories and the great work they do.  I’ve just come across the TechSoup 2016 Digital Storytelling Challenge so I thought I’d share the link, as there are some useful looking resources. One is a Short Course in Digital Storytelling, which includes links to some lovely tips such as How to Wow in 4 Easy Steps.

While we’re on the topic, one of the best places to see great storytelling is TED.com, and one of my favourite TED talks about storytelling is this one by Simon Sinek.

Effective charity leaders must be relentlessly, ferociously restless for change

a photo of Lorna’s RSA journal and mug of coffee While settling down with a nice cup of fresh coffee this morning I picked up my copy of the latest RSA Journal. The focus of this issue is communities, and asks: how can more communities play a bigger part in making change happen? I quickly got drawn into a great article about charities by the outgoing Chief Executive of Save the Children, Justin Forsyth. You can also read the article here.

The article opens with:

Over my working life I have worked as both a campaigner targeting the government from the outside and inside government, where I have been on the receiving end of campaigns. For the past five years I have been back on the outside as chief executive of Save  the Children. I am often asked what I have learnt as I’ve switched ‘sides’. The answer is simple: there are no sides. Or, more precisely, the two sides are not inside and outside, but people in both camps who are either restless for change or people who find comfort in the status quo. And I am clear – effective charity leaders must be unambiguously, relentlessly, ferociously of the former. Given the scale of our ambitions for social justice, the nature of shifting power dynamics driven by everything from the digital revolution to the rise of the emerging economies, and the degree of scrutiny that all institutions – from banking and politics to the media and charities – now come under, we simply do not have the luxury of standing still.

Justin then goes on to outline five lessons he has learned over the last five years at Save the Children. Here is an overview of them.

The first lesson is that it is more important to build a shared platform than to build one organisation.

The second lesson is that it is more powerful to recruit unexpected allies than to galvanise the usual suspects.

The third lesson is that it is as important to build an exceptional team as an exceptional idea.

The fourth lesson is that mass and mainstream is what gives permission for edgy and sharp. [He gives a great example of this in relation to a campaign to restart refugee search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.]

The final and, in many ways, the most important lesson is that who you are should determine what you do, not the other way around.

Whether you lead a charity, a community group, a social enterprise, or are simply getting up to something for the good of others, do any of these resonate with you?

I’m really keen for CoLab Dudley to be a shared platform, and hope to have support through Dudley CVS to start some really exciting things with CoLab this year. I’m not sure I have much experience of recruiting unexpected allies, though on reflection I am surprised how much I’ve grown my networks in the last few years beyond the usual suspects in the community development field. As a result I have hugely increased my repertoire of tools and tactics to support change in communities, which in turn impacts on my ability to influence decision makers. I’ll stop there with the sharing of my reflections, as I’d love to hear some of yours.

I’d also love to hear perspectives on where we’re at in Dudley borough. Do you think we have charities which are restless for change, or which find comfort in the status quo? Who should we look to learn from in our sector? And where are the teams restless for change in our local public sector that we can work with on issues of social justice? Maybe we could interview people from some of them for this blog or The Echo.

Supporting innovation in our sector

Innovation T&F group questionBack in September we invited people to help us design a programme of support for our sector who are keen to lead innovation and transformation in their teams, organisations or communities.  This was part of work that Dudley CVS staff and trustees have been undertaking around five priorities we set ourselves this year, which I blogged about in August.

The group of us working on the priority around innovation, transformation and sustainability have recently fed back to Dudley CVS board, below are the highlights. These are from in depth conversations with leaders of eight different organisations in Dudley borough.

What do innovation, transformation and sustainability mean for people in different contexts?

Innovation

“Seeing things that work in other contexts and bringing them to your own work and applying them in different ways, to different things.”

“The ethos and core of who we are stays the same, but the way we meet that has to be continually up for discussion.”

Transformation

“Culture change.” “It needs strong vision and leadership.”

“It is ongoing on constant.”

“It is about change, responding to change, adapting to change, including being responsive to digital technologies.”

Sustainability

“Survival – diversifying income streams, looking at a variety of funding models.”

“I used to think it was  about staying where you are. Now I think it’s about pushing forward.”

“It’s not about the organisation, it’s about the customer. If the way to preserve services is that our organisation isn’t here, that’s fine. We have to help people to help themselves.”

Innovation, transformation etc definitions

Emerging themes

The people we have spoke to frequently touched on ways in which the sector is becoming more like social enterprise, using tactics previously thought of as belonging to business. Publications such as the Compendium for the Civic Economy and The Convergence Continuum: towards a 4th sector in global development? highlight ways in which the boundaries between the private, public, and non-profit sectors have been blurring. Pioneering organisations have emerged with new models for addressing societal challenges that blend attributes and strategies from all sectors. They are creating hybrid organisations that transcend the usual sectoral boundaries.

The key question we explored with people we have spoken to was: how might we support voluntary organisations in Dudley borough to innovate, transform and become more sustainable? We were explicit that ‘we’ didn’t mean specifically Dudley CVS, it could mean anyone who wanted to be involved, including people supporting each other.

Five headline themes are emerging around:

  • Collaboration and less competition. Collaboration has been mentioned more frequently than anything else.
  • Seeing or knowing about other things from elsewhere / other contexts to bring and innovate with. This has come up a number of times.
  • Creativity – trying things out, making mistakes. This has also been mentioned a lot, sometimes in relation to a perception that the sector underestimates it’s knowledge and skills, it’s ability to be nimble and creative. People we spoke to wanted the sector to be more confident.
  • Commissioners understanding the impact and value of the sector. (Influencing commissioners was also a major discussion point in the Task & Finish group which met to discuss supporting collaboration in the borough.)
  • Vision and leadership.

Other points which stand out from the conversations include how we respond to and use digital technology to help innovation etc. Also suggestions about using assets (buildings, equipment, skills etc.) differently, and sharing assets with each other. One conversation delved into alternative forms of finance, such as social investment bonds. Another explored the importance of language and framing – the need to help overcome fear, resistance and closing in with an optimism around opportunities and a focus on what we do have (rather than what is being taken away).

Our next step is to start evolving our some of our support to respond to what we’ve found, and the ideas we heard during these conversations. We’d love to hear from you about:

  • Your thoughts on the emerging themes
  • Ideas do you have around support you would like
  • Examples you’ve seen or read about of innovation being encouraged and nurtured

Andrew Mullaney – a great connector

Photo and twitter bio for Andrew MullaneyBright and early on a Tuesday morning at the end of last month, Eileen and I met for coffee with Andrew Mullaney, who is Dudley’s first ever Business Connector, seconded from Lloyds Bank to Business in the Community’s Business Connectors programme.

The Business in the Community website says: “Business Connectors are talented individuals seconded from business, trained by Business in the Community and placed in communities of greatest need to build partnerships that tackle local issues.” 

I think we’ve struck gold here in Dudley because Andrew is not only talented, and experienced in business, but also hugely passionate about Dudley and driven by a mission to make a sustainable, lasting difference in the work that he does.

In his first five weeks in his new role Andrew had already made an astonishing number of connections and was working incredibly energetically as a network weaver (see video below), actively creating connections between people and organisations who hadn’t previously known about each other, or worked together.

In the weeks since we met him, Andrew has been just brilliant at connecting us with helpful people and organisations, and has very kindly been promoting Dudley Volunteer Centre and Dudley CVS in all sorts of things he’s been involved in. If you want to use and grow your networks to make positive change in Dudley I’d recommend arranging to meet Andrew for a coffee. Some great connections are guaranteed!

You can connect with Andrew on twitter @dudleyconnector, by email andrew.mullaney@bitcconnect.org or give him a call on 07834945827.

For more on network weaving, check out June Holley’s work, and the video below.

Support for social entrepreneurs

country


Happy Global Entrepreneurship Week!

“Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.”  (From http://uk.gew.co)

What better time to let you know about events and support for local social entrepreneurs?

An exploration of opportunities emerging in the West Midlands – this Thursday

Local people and organisations are invited to run activities during Global Entrepreneurship Week, and one of our local organisations, the Beacon Centre for the Blind have signed up. They are hosting an event this Thursday. The Opportunities for Social Enterprise, Investment and Impact conference is a West Midlands wide event, and places for people who live or work in Dudley borough have kindly been subsidised by Dudley Council, so are free. Just hop over to Eventbrite to register.

A marketplace event – on Friday 27 November

A different kind of event coming up for social enterprises and social entrepreneurs in Dudley borough has been organised by the local Synergy network (@synergy_dudley on twitter). On Friday 27 November they are hosting a marketplace event at Brierley Hill Civic Hall.

Doors open at 9am, and the event kicks off at 9.30am with talks from the Leader of Dudley Council, our Chief Officer Andy Gray, along with other Synergy network leads and local MPs. A panel discussion leads into  a free lunch at 12.30pm and the afternoon marketplace will be open until 4pm.

If you’d like to pop along for part or all of the day please contact Tim Jones at Higgs & Sons Solicitors on 0845 111 5050 or email tim.jones@higgsandsons.co.uk

Dudley CVS support – available any time

And finally, don’t forget that we offer free support to social entrepreneurs and social enterprises in Dudley borough. I recently interviewed Becky Pickin about the support Dudley CVS provide.

Have a listen to the short clip to hear about how we help people – from the first step on the journey of understanding what a social enterprise is, to developing ideas and undertaking market research, to setting up governance. I also asked Becky about Synergy, so if you’d like to hear more about what it is, just click the play button.


Do you have any questions about social enterprise? Are there any local social entrepreneurs you’d like to see featured on our blog? Leave us a comment or get in touch with us on twitter or Facebook.

The New Reality – guidance for digital transformation in our sector

the-new-reality-highlights-from-the-study-3-1024

“The digital revolution has already happened, and we are living in the aftermath”

A really practical report and wonderful set of resources was published by Julie Dodd (@JulieDodd) a few months ago which I would highly recommend having a look at if you work or volunteer in our sector. It is all about how we can make our way along the journey to using digital technology to achieve the outcomes, impact and change which our organisations exist for. The resources have been created and drawn together following interviews with 50 senior leaders and digital experts from both inside and outside the non-profit sector. The New Reality site is a helpfully curated online resource comprising:

  • An overview and links to content about each of the 6 key themes:
    • leadership
    • culture
    • infrastructure
    • innovation
    • funding
    • service delivery
  • Some really lovely and useful resources, called take aways, which include the poster below, snappy slide sets and a video
  • The full report and an executive summary

The following are a few of the insights from the Executive Summary which really resonate with me:

  • Digital services will deliver greater value than anyone can imagine (but first we need to address the culture and infrastructure issues that are standing in the way)
  • Until sector leadership stops delegating responsibility for digital we’re not going to get very far
  • You don’t need a digital strategy. “Having a digital strategy will soon seem as ridiculous as having an electricity strategy”
  • A tried and tested process for delivering transformation already exists – it’s just not being used
  • The next stage of digital for non-profits is not fundraising and marketing
  • We need to think beyond web to a broad range of digital technologies to achieve maximum impact

I’ve been meaning to write here about The New Reality resources for some time (thank you to Paul Webster for bringing this to our attention), and I started working on this post while at Local Gov Camp in Leeds. Local Gov Camp is an unconference bringing together people who care about public services, which has a strong focus on digital / tech. I was fascinated to discover that people who work in local government seem to have many of the same concerns and challenges as people in organisations in our sector, though our starting positions are different. Perhaps there is potential for developing some solutions together.

Below is one of the take aways from The New Reality: 20 ways to achieve digital transformation in our sector (also available in pdf). I’d love to hear what you think about The New Reality research, the resources and what support you would like from Dudley CVS in relation to digital transformation. Leave a comment here or get in touch with us on twitter (@dudleycvs) or Facebook.

poster from The New Reality

Be the hedgehog!

photo of a hedgehog on grassWhat have hedgehogs got to do with radical innovation?

Well, as suggested in a Disrupt & Innovate blog post“hedgehogs symbolise radical innovation because as curling up into a ball – their very successful defence strategy for millions of years – became ineffective when the car was invented, hedgehogs changed their strategy and learned how to run.”

The Disrupt & Innovate project ran a campaign this summer to find civil society hedgehogs. Using a twitter hashtag #BeTheHedgehog, they sought examples of “people, teams or whole organisations that are courageously innovative reacting to changes in the world by changing themselves and the way they pursue their mission…  so that all of us can learn from them and from each other and get better at what we do.”

We are now looking for hedgehogs in Dudley borough, to help us design a programme of support for people in our sector who are keen to lead innovation and transformation* in their teams, organisations or communities. If you are a hedgehog, or know one, please leave a comment below or get in touch with me (lorna@dudleycvs.org.uk / 07501 722255 / twitter @dosticen) so that we can involve you in a conversation later this month.

* What do we mean by innovation and transformation? – you may well ask, as these are buzzwords which have lost their impact through over-use.

Innovation

Innovation can be defined as the act or process of introducing new ideas, methods or devices. In our sector we tend to focus on what is often called social innovation. This is about finding novel solutions to social problems that are more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just, than present solutions. Social innovations create value primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals.

Social innovations can be described as new strategies, concepts, ideas and organisations that meet social needs – they extend and strengthen civil society. Social innovation includes the social processes of innovation, such as open source methods and techniques and also the innovations which have a social purpose.  (From wikipedia)

Transformation

This could mean changes in how an organisation is structured, how it operates, and/or how it is financed – often in response to changes in the context in which it is working. Examples of transformation we could develop knowledge around and try out include:

Obviously we don’t want organisations to innovate and transform for the sake of it. We are here to connect and inspire people and organisations to achieve positive change so that we have caring, vibrant and strong communities across the borough. So part of our focus is on supporting organisations to be resilient and sustainable. As well as financial sustainability, we are keen to support organisations to be adaptable and develop their leadership and strategic muscles. 

If you’d like to help us design ways that we can provide support around all of these sorts of things please get in touch. We’ll be thinking and talking about ideas this month and getting ready to start doing things next month.


Image credit: Soerfm, shared through wikimedia commons using a creative commons licence