Gorgie City Farm

Find out how digital tools to help with managing services has saved staff and volunteer time and improved customer engagement.

Important: Opinions expressed by Digital Pioneer interviewees are their own and don’t represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Josiah Lockhart, Chief Executive at Gorgie City Farm tells us more…

Gorgie City Farm

Tell us about Gorgie City Farm!

Josiah: Gorgie City Farm is a 40 year old city farm in the heart of Edinburgh. Located 1 mile from Princes Street, the farm educates the public about food and farm, with over 200,000 visitors coming through the site each year. In addition to providing a free space the farm offers education programmes to over 2,000 individual schools and community groups along with 500 supported volunteering and trainee placements each year to predominantly young people and adults with support needs.

How have you been using digital?

Josiah: Although the organisation has been engaging with digital to some extent, 2016 saw a concentrated effort to use digital technologies to bring in new efficiencies to our administration systems as well as making customer engagement easier and more user friendly.

Gorgie City Farm

Tell us about a recent digital change you’ve made.

Josiah: Our most recent change has been the introduction of Checkfront, a site wide booking system, which brings together all of our bookable activity into a single management system that not only is accessible by the public through our website, but also syncs cleanly with our book keeping software for financial reporting.

We also introduced a similar tablet based till system and are in the process of developing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to help us better understand and keep track of the overlaps with our supported volunteers, customers, and supporters.

What motivated you?

Josiah: The combination of new management and the necessity to create a more efficient workforce due to the organisations financial situation at the start of 2016.

How did you go about it?

Josiah: We started by finding the most appropriate technology and using identified “early adopters” on the team to start running the systems in parallel to our older systems. Once certain staff were comfortable, more reluctant members of the team were trained by their peers and more aspects of the organisation were added over time.

We invested £700 into the systems and it took us 3 months to implement the change.

Who was involved?

Josiah: The Chief Executive, Treasurer, and Vice Chair were the instigators, but the Senior Management Team played a big part in selling it to the rest of the staff.

What’s been the impact?

Josiah: We estimate over 20 hours of staff time per week was saved through the introduction of the systems. This time was invested back into the support of our service users. We also were able to manage more accurate record keeping and asses our progress in more clear and concise manner.

The number of people our digital change has impacted equates to roughly 30 members of staff, more than 200 supported volunteers and 976 customers who have directly interacted with our systems.

Gorgie City Farm

Any challenges?

Josiah: The largest barriers were bringing staff on board who were fearful of technological solutions as well as the training requirements for new systems.

This was overcome by working closely with our accountants to stream line training needs, as well as ensuring we were not just introducing technological solutions for technology’s sake. We needed to ensure we used the most appropriate technology for our needs and ensure it was intuitive enough to be easy for those fearful of the change.

We were surprised at how significant the impact was on our organisation, and how much time it has freed up. In the future we would prefer to have more time to view and assess what our peers do and use. This is something we are doing with our CRM introduction.

Any advice?

Josiah: There is lots of competing advice and you need to filter the advice you are given and ensure you use the most appropriate solutions for your needs.

What’s on your digital horizon?

Josiah: We are currently in the process of introducing Salesforce for our CRM as well as Penumbra’s iRoc system to measure the recovery journey of people who use our services.

Thanks to Josiah from Gorgie City Farm for sharing how they’re using digital in the third sector. We hope that the digital tools mentioned and their approach have inspired your third sector organisation. Don’t forget to share it with your networks to keep the inspiration flowing and tell us what you think @digiscot using #digiscotpioneers.

If you’d like to help spread some more digital inspiration across the third sector then get in touch with us @digiscot and digital@scvo.org.uk. We’d love to hear from you and share it with our networks!

Page last modified on 2nd September 2019