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Thinking of topics for VCSSCamp

With less than a month to go until VCSSCamp Four takes place in Birmingham (there’s still a few tickets available) you might (OK probably not!) be thinking about the sessions you’d like to pitch, or the discussions you’d like to have.

Recently i’ve read a couple of research reports that discuss technology in our organisations and how we could (and should) be doing more with it. I’d be really interested to hear the views of staff from infrastructure organisation on these reports and what we can do to make the use of digital technology more central all the organisation does.

Firstly there was the NAVCA “Future of Local Infrastructure” report published in January 2015 which highlighted many challenges faced by infrastructure organisations, but also suggested that  :

“Infrastructure needs to be financed, but it also has to undergo a redesign. It needs to be leaner, meaner and more technologically savvy. It needs to act as a lever bringing in new resources to the sector, including social investment, crowd funding and pro bono support. It needs to be the enabler of voice and the advocate of community action. It needs to collaborate and share more cost effectively. It needs to promote and develop the ‘time economy’, co-production and good volunteering practices. Above all, it needs to help the sector with foresight and managing change, because the pace of change is not going to slow.” Sara Llewellin Chair of Chair of the Commission the Commission “

You can download the report from the NAVCA website here.

Then secondly, published last week was “The New Reality” a research study conducted by Julie Dodd about how digital technology will deliver the next step-change in social impact. It is based on interviews with over 50 senior leaders and digital experts from both inside and outside the non-profit sector. The report offers a “20 Steps to Digital Transformation” chart and presents 10 key insights for change from which i’ve picked out a couple here.

Major skills gaps need plugging. The speed of technology change has created a gap between the digital skills that organisations have, and additional ones they need. Key areas identified were: data, digital strategy, lean and iterative process management, and business model.”

The next stage of digital for non-profits is not fundraising and marketing. Efforts and successes in digital to date have largely been focused on digital marketing and fundraising. Whilst these have been – and continue to be – valuable, the focus now needs to be on how digital technology can transform organisations around their core mission. This may mean moving digital teams away from these directorates in order to grow digital expertise across the board.”

The New Reality can be downloaded here.

You may also have read about the work that New Philanthropy Capital are doing and the two part question posed by Tris Lumley of NPC about “The power of digital to transform the sector”. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

“Digital technology can be the driving force behind this transformation, giving us fundamentally new abilities. It is connective—joining together people, services, knowledge and places. It is efficient—doing some things faster, more accurately and at a cheaper rate than people. And it can be intelligent—with the ability to analyse, map, diagnose and predict.”

“I believe digital technology holds the key to unlocking value chain thinking in the social sector.”

I can’t argue with any of this … but are our organisations doing this or even ready and equipped to do this? Are they still thinking “that’s a good idea, but we can’t possibly achieve it”?

They have convened a “Technology For Good” Digital Transformation group to look at these questions, it will be interesting to hear the results of this group and how it will work with and listen to the smaller organisations in the sector and the infrastructure organisations that support them!

I’m sure you have also read other reports that have prompted thoughts, or that you have your own topic and passion that you’d like to discuss with others. It’s an unconference so the floor is yours!

Please suggest topics in the comments below or just come along, either with topics to discuss or simply with questions to ask or issues that trouble you (well technology related ones anyway!)

We look forward to meeting you all in Birmingham on 30th June.


I've worked in the voluntary sector listening to people and helping them use technology for 17 years and believe strongly that people come first and technology second. I'm always learning from people I talk to at meet-ups and bring experience of running the NetSquared Midlands Meet-up, VCSSCamp unconferences and many social media surgeries. I'm also the UK & Europe contact for the NetSquared Tech for Social Good meet ups. I connect people and communities to get the most from technology and the web. I like listening, linking and real beer & hate seeing the wheel being reinvented and sweetcorn.

2 thoughts on “Thinking of topics for VCSSCamp

  1. I found The New Reality report really interesting and the related resources are fantastic.

    In return I thought I’d share this report and thinking from the RSA about the new digital learning age – there is even a fun quiz you can take to find out which digital tribe you belong to, which shapes your experience of technological change. Are you a ‘confident creator’, among the ‘held back’ or a ‘safety firster’?


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