DIWC tell us what digital tools they’ve been using to share learner stories & generate lots of engagement.
Important: Opinions expressed by Digital Pioneer interviewees are their own and don’t represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.
Parven Kaur, previous Community Engagement Officer at Dundee Women’s International Centre tells us more…
Tell us about Dundee International Women’s Centre!
Parven: Dundee International Women’s Centre (DIWC) exists to engage, educate and self-empower women. Our centre is a place where women and girls achieve their personal goals, reach their full potential and prosper in their community. We are based in Dundee and our ‘learners’ are mainly from the Black and minority ethnic communities. We deliver our aims and values through a range of social, informal and formal learning opportunities.
How have you been using digital?
Parven: It’s only been for a few years. We were not a digitally savvy organisation even though we have been going for 48 years now. In 2015, a Community Engagement Officer (Digital and Content Coordinator) post was created in late 2015 which I took up. It made a real difference to how we engaged with digital and got our message out.
Over time we started to create video and share the stories of out learners. We kept ourselves updated on what other organisations around the world are doing such as Pencils of Promise and Charity Water and implemented different digital strategies. Our videos are also used in aiding with funding application forms and applying for awards.
This year we created and emailed a monthly newsletter to our learners, funders and other stakeholders. In our newsletter we give out information on upcoming events, achievements of learners, future plans and things that have been happening in the centre.
The digital apps, many of which are free, that we use are:
- Canva to create posters/social media posts.
- Piktochart to create infographics.
- Trello for our ‘To Do’ lists and productivity.
- SmarterQueue for our social media scheduling and analysing our insights.
- Google Ad Words for non profit to help raise our profile.
- Camtasia for video editing.
- Mailchimp for our email lists and newsletters.
Tell us about a recent digital change you’ve made.
Parven: In 2016 we introduced the #womenofdundee campaign which is aimed at sharing the journey, struggle, ambition and achievements of multi- cultural women living in Dundee. We interview women who attend our centre and find out their story – why did they move to Dundee, what barriers have they faced, how have they overcome them and what do they enjoy about their achievements now.
What motivated you?
Parven: Some of our learners really wanted to help other women who had just moved to Dundee. They wanted to share their barriers and how they had overcome them to encourage other women to open up and get support they needed from the centre. We also know that the wider Dundee Community are very keen to understand more about the work of the centre and the positive impact on the women who attend.
How did you go about it?
Parven: We first started by sharing the story of our staff members. We interviewed a few of our staff members and posted their story along with their picture on our website and social media platforms. Each week we published one new story. We realised that many of our learners enjoyed reading the journey of other women – our social media reach and engagement went through the roof! Many of our learners find that they have had a similar experiences and can relate to what other women have been through.
To undertake the interviews, we used a recording device instead of writing the interview down as this saves time and allowed us to transcribe and edit the interview more accurately. Once the interview was written it was emailed to our learners for approval and they then provided us with their photographs. Interviewing and editing a story could take up to 2 to 3 hours.
Who was involved?
Parven: Our CEO, Caroline McKenna has been in the organisation since 2014 and is very keen for us to ‘think digitally’. With the support of my role we educated our learners, staff members and volunteers to move towards a digital world.
I am also part of the Content Marketing Academy run by Chris Marr and we enjoy learning new ways of creating content to help and support our audience.
What’s been the impact?
Parven: We’ve seen many benefits to our #womenofdundee campaign, including:
- More people are aware of the work that we do
- We had an increase in the number of learners registering for our classes
- We kept in touch with our funders through our online work
- We have partners and funders who contact us to offer support
- Local businesses have started supporting our events via sponsorship
- Local press have picked up our stories and run with them as features – increasing our reach and awareness throughout Dundee
Many of our learners are delighted to be a part of and see and share our/their stories on social media. Staff have also realised the importance of digital media and having a solid web presence. We are also able to recruit volunteers more easily as we can direct them to our website and show them the work that we do. Our partners and funders always comment on our website and how powerful it is and how easy to navigate.
Parven: Initially it was not easy to get learners to consent to using their photographs or videos due to privacy concerns. However, over time and with our support our learners are more confident about their photographs/video being taken.
Staff were initially not aware of the importance of being present online and were worried this would cause them extra work or would be seen as more of a priority than the direct work with learners. Over time they now know that the two work very well side by side.
Parven: Go for it, it is a learning curve but its great fun and brings all the team together! Know where your audience are most active and choose one or two social media platforms and focus on those rather than trying to be present everywhere.
Always be prepared for changes. The digital world is ever changing and keeping up can feel a little overwhelming. For example, there are so many different tools and apps you can use out there for video editing, I would say just learn one and stick with it until you feel confident. Don’t be distracted by the new kid on the block!
What’s on your digital horizon?
Parven: We are continuing our #womenofdundee campaign and that will continue to grow our audience throughout 2017 and 2018. Next we are doing a ‘behind the scenes’ of our staff and bringing to life the trials and tribulations of working at DIWC- this will help us be more human and show our audience the people behind the organisation.
What’s digitally inspiring you at the moment?
Thanks to Parven from Dundee International Women’s Centre for sharing how they’re using digital in the voluntary sector. We hope that the digital tools mentioned and their approach have inspired your voluntary 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 voluntary sector then get in touch with us @digiscot and firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you and share it with our networks!