The Digital Charity Lab 5 Minute Guides are intended to give you the basics on a particular digital platform or project. They are collaborative documents and we welcome your feedback and further suggestions in the comments.
Working in digital for non profits means constant learning. If you don’t have an appetite for continued learning, you might be in the wrong job! The various tech platforms add new features all the time, change their algorithms, and get bought out by each other – and that’s just the tech. The weaponisation of social media messaging and advertising by right wing campaigners just happened in the last couple of years, and caught a lot of people by surprise. It’s really important to stay up to date with what’s happening with the technology, and also to know when there’s a shift in online attitudes and behaviours.
Make sure you build time and budget into your year for digital learning, and remember also that digital staff can’t work in a vacuum – everyone contributing to and signing off digital projects should know best practice.
Personally, I’ve found that the best places to learn are:
- Good practical courses focused on non-profits
- Conferences (as long as they’re really good!)
- Online networks
- Local communities and meetups
- Online courses
- Pro bono workshops from tech companies
- Digital courses from commercial organisations
Some recommendations for each below!
Digital Courses for Non Profits, run by Non Profits
It can be very difficult to get the kind of specialised training in digital that is needed for non profits in Ireland. There are plenty of courses in digital marketing but they overwhelmingly have a commercial focus and rarely address the particular concerns of charities.
Digital Charity Lab runs regular workshops and seminars as part of our mission to help charities work better with digital. We are committed to providing training at a low cost so that it is accessible to as many charities as possible. We run training events throughout the year – join our mailing list to get first notice of all our events.
A good conference is a fantastic way to learn – it’s hard to beat a good mix of expert speakers and meeting peers. However, it can be disappointingly hard to find good conferences that justify the time and cost of attending. A few that I would feel confident in recommending are:
Ecampaigning Forum – my personal favourite, they have events in Oxford in the Spring and Berlin in the Autumn. I have a blog post about ECF on this site with the details, including all the reasons I love it.
Ask Direct Fundraising Summer School – really interesting event held in Dublin in the summer, more centered on traditional fundraising but a good number of digital sessions too
Online networks, communities & meetups
A great way to connect with peers, start discussions and ask for help. Some of the ones I like are:
- ECF Community (Mailing List)
- Irish Charity Web community (Google Group)
- Irish Fundraisers Network (Facebook Group and meetups in Dublin)
- Third Sector PR & Comms Network (Facebook Group)
- Critical Fundraising Forum (Facebook Group)
- Digital Charities Community on Slack (Slack Community)
If there’s any more you know of, comment below and I’ll add them to the list. If there isn’t one in your area, start your own and tell us about it 🙂
Online courses can be a good way to get the kind of specialised training that is hard to find for non-profits. You have to find a bit of discipline to carve out the time, but when you do they’re great for learning at your own pace.
A few more that I can personally recommend:
- Google Analytics Academy – free courses in Analytics from Google
- Fundraising consultant Simon Scriver has two great courses up on Udemy.com – a 20 Day Fundraising Challenge, and Taking the Fear out of Corporate Fundraising
- BusinessBrew’s online course in Inbound Marketing
- Fairsay (organisers of the ECF conference) run regular online courses in Ecampaigning
Any to add?
Pro bono workshops from tech companies
Paddy Power Charity Day
Paddy Power have run a complimentary Master Class in Online Marketing for charities once a year in the past (usually in November). Paddy Power are pretty much at the cutting edge of online marketing, and in this workshop they focus on getting the best return for your time. It’s a one day event, is divided into basic and advanced levels, is free and is extremely useful. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries or to be added to their list.
Google NGO Engage
Google’s NGO Engage is a programme that offers intensive training and support to selected charities, including one-on-one sessions with Google volunteers. Previous sessions have covered search engine optimisation, Webmaster Tools, Analytics and Adwords. You can complete Google’s NGO Engage form to register interest in the next wave.
Digital courses from commercial organisations
I haven’t had much luck finding really good commercial courses that are relevant to NGOs in Ireland. The agency Connector in Dublin do run some innovative and interesting free events around digital and tech – sign up to their mailing list for notice of their events.
Do you have any recommendations? Share in the comments below!
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