HostingOnLineGatherings

An interim service to support the introduction of on-line meetings and social gatherings for small charities.

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In order to support other small charities during the Coronavirus crisis we are offering an interim start-up hosting and implementation service using "Zoom" (one of the leading applications) to small charities (annual income less than ca.£100K) which want to make a start in providing on-line “gatherings” for both:

  • administrative purposes (eg: so that they can have on-line Trustees, or staff/volunteer meetings during a period of lockdown) and, particularly,
  • on-line social events (eg: talks, quizzes, community sessions) for their beneficiaries.

The service will include:

  • providing scheduled on-line gatherings of up to 3 hrs duration (including a 15 min joining & registration period prior to the scheduled start and a 15 min “over-run” buffer after the scheduled end);
  • hand-holding practice sessions prior to a scheduled gathering to help beneficiaries who are “a bit wobbly” with on-line computer services through the initial installation and setting up process. Where appropriate this would include 1-1 support (eg: by telephone) so that beneficiaries can be talked through the setting up process.
    The aim would be to get beneficiaries to the point where they can comfortably join on-line sessions by themselves unaided to avoid disrupting scheduled gatherings..
  • support to the charity’s volunteers and staff to help them to develop new and more effective ways of running and providing on-line services to their beneficiaries. The idea is that this would lead to the development of innovative ways for the charity to engage effectively and efficiently with its beneficiaries which would continue long after the current crisis is over.

You might also find the following guidance leaflets helpful

To use this service please send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. giving the name of your charity and when you are planning an on-line meeting/gathering and we will do our best to accommodate you.

Frustrated CharlieBrownWarning !

Unfortunately there are reports that some people are using Zoom software not to help those in need during the Covid-19 crisis but to exploit others' needs for their own benefit.   There's a recent article in the Guardian Newspaper on some of the issues which you might want to look at.

If you are intending to use Zoom for your own gatherings:

  • avoid publicising your gathering on social media to which everyone (incuding potential intruders) has access;
  • make sure that your gathering is password protected and that you only give the password to those you want to participate;
  • use the Zoom "virtual waiting room" facility so that you can check the identity of people joining before allowing them to enter the gathering.



The Costs

Small Charity Support is run by volunteers with minimal overheads.
It provides all its services free of charge to other small charities to help them deliver free or low-cost services to meet the needs of their beneficiaries.

If providing the service will incur out-of-pocket expenses that will be negotiated and agreed before any such expenses are incurred.

Donations to Small Charity Support are always welcome, but are not obligatory.
Small Charity Support’s Trustees’ Annual Reports & Accounts are available elsewhere on its website and can be downloaded from the Charity Commission’s public Register of Charities.

 

Responding to a New Need

Charities, by their very nature, tend to be very direct person-to-person orientated, responding to the needs of individuals by the provision of both 1-1 and small group activities.

The arrival of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has thrown the world into chaos.   Not just at the “big business and finance” level, but even more so at the small charity level.   The personal contact between small charities and their individual beneficiaries – the very essence of their “business” – has been seriously disrupted by the enforcement of social separation and isolation in the efforts to limit the effects of the pandemic.

On-line gatherings – ie: covering the whole gamut of internet communications, from large-scale conferences and events, to small Board meetings – has been around for many years.   Consequently the technology is widely available, and of very high quality.

But it has largely been irrelevant to the charity sector, particularly the small end of the sector, with its focus on the social importance of direct personal contacts, even where on-line technology could otherwise have been used.
{Even in the largest, wealthiest parts of the commercial/financial sector, senior executives STILL feel it is worthwhile to spend large amounts of money on first- and business-class airfares and hotels to maintain direct face-to-face contact with clients when an on-line meeting would have been possible.}

One thing is certain.
Life is NOT going to return to “normal” once the Covid-19 crisis has passed – ie: most charities will NOT go back to just doing things the same way as they did before the crisis.

Some of the changes forced onto the charity sector by the crisis are going to be found to be unexpectedly beneficial and charities will be wanting to not only continue using them once the crisis is past but will be actively expanding, developing and innovating on those changes.

The use of on-line communications to deliver social benefits as well as “business” benefits is likely to be one such area of change.

Small Charity Support is expanding it’s mission to include supporting small charities to introduce on‑line communications technology not just to help them overcome short-term difficulties but how to make use of (ie: develop and innovate the use of) such technologies to enable them to continue to deliver “social gathering” benefits to their beneficiaries (eg: the Sofa Singers and other community groups).