Helping out the Voluntary Sector
The voluntary and community sector are facing a lot of challenges because of the credit crunch – as funders from central and local government look closely at how they can cut budgets. The voluntary sector doesn’t have a lot of spare capacity, and so any cuts quickly affect not only the front line, but the support agencies that help the section to function.
Digital technology can help out in many ways, but it can’t fill the gaps that this funding deficit will cause. What it can do is help organisations use their limited resources much better. Our latest Connecting 2.0 Communities event therefore came at a difficult time for the sector, with many people unable to attend because of the uncertainties they are currently facing. For those who did attend, there was a chance to sit down for half an hour or more with a digital advisor – who would provide a one-to-one support around their organisation’s individual needs.
The problems of the concept of the “big society” is that it doesn’t grow from nothing – and organisation’s that have been helping out communities for years need supporting, not left to their own devices. We’re hoping to run another Connecting 2.0 Communities event in the New Year, but only if it’s what the community sector wants – and unfortunately, at a time when organisations can’t pay their staff, or having to look at the services they provide, they might simply not have the capacity to learn about new web tools, and how they can help them out.
What we in the digital sector need to do, is work closely with communities – to see if there are specific things that can be done to help the voluntary sector survive through these tough times. As ever, it was great to see so many people volunteer to be digital advisors, and a number were interviewed during the afternoon.