We were delighted to recently announce the seventh round of funding for the Digital Participation Charter Fund,  shared between 19 organisations and benefiting over 3,000 people. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations’ (SCVO), in partnership with the Scottish Government and BT, has been delivering theCharter Fund over the past five years, supporting 169 projects across Scotland to get people online and develop Essential Digital Skills.

In 2017 SCVO published an independentreview of the first three rounds of funding, from what was then known as the Digital Participation Challenge Fund. This report was a review of 84 funded projects that supported around 8,900 individuals. Through this review we learned:

  • Projects that used an approach that embedded digital champions in other activities were able to maintain participant engagement for longer  
  • Targeted recruitment and partnership pathways worked better than blanket marketing approaches in engaging the right people
  • Motivation and confidence were amongst the biggest barriers for participants, which were most effectively overcome by addressing anxieties around staying safe online and finding the ‘hook’ to get people motivated
  • Participants were more likely to be open and engage when there was an element of one-to-one support
  • Shorter sessions were preferred by participants
  • It’s important to use familiar devices to those used by the participants
  • Continued informal learning opportunities in social settings were seen as being effective for many of our projects

The learning from these first three rounds of funding has helped to inform the ongoing approach, sharing lessons with newly funded organisations around what works. We promote collaborative working with, and between, funded organisations. The Charter Fund helps organisations to embed Essential Digital Skills in a sustainable way, digitise content, build networks, and thrive in a digital world.  

We are now helping our successful applicants from round 7 get their projects up and running and making sure that they are connected to one another, and previously funded projects. There is so much learning from such a diverse range of projects and organisations, all using digital skills to help maximise their engagement and reach. All our funded projects are signatories of Scotland’s Digital Participation Charter, which is open to any organisation in Scotland from the voluntary, public or private sectors. This is a great place to check out what commitments other organisations are making to digital inclusion and discovering opportunities to make connections and share resources and learning.

This is an opportune time for us to reflect on the collective lessons learned from rounds 4 to 6 and how this can be used to shape the future of digital inclusion work in Scotland. We’ve put together an evaluation specification and we’re looking for a dynamic external evaluator to work with us to unpick and review the incredible work undertaken by these 85 projects, and how this will shape our journey going forward.

If you’re an experienced evaluator with a passion for social inclusion we’d love to hear from you. You can submit a proposal to aaron.slater@scvo.org.uk by midday on 23 September 2019.