Blog

Just another day at Digital Candle...

September 17, 2021
The meeting was great... Her expertise was brilliant, she gave loads of advice and is happy to review the focus group findings to date and provide us with some detail around what sort of things we should be considering when we are reaching out to Information Architects and is also going to provide us with some info around the sort of budget requirements it might entail.

Always a pleasure to open my Candle email account and read this kind of feedback! 

More matches. More light!

August 17, 2021

Thanks to all the Candle experts who are providing light on technical matters. Here's some recent feedback: 

We had a Zoom meeting this afternoon with Anu Gupta who was most helpful and considerate to our needs for a new website. I am most impressed with Digital Candle and Anu. Thank you for all your help.

Rosamund Taylor was helped by Anu Gupta

John and I had a really helpful conversation yesterday and he has followed up with some really useful links.
Due to his experience in IT and supporting other social care charities, John was helpful and understanding. and had an understanding of the charity’s needs in terms of technology and security which saved a lot of time and was really useful.

Ben Freeman was helped by John Knox

I had a very good session with Nick last week. He was very helpful, he understood what I needed and gave me very helpful advice. I think it will really help us as we develop our website. Really very happy with the session, especially as we didn’t have to pay anything.

Alice Caisley was helped by Nick Seagrave

We met with one of Tom last week and it was really useful. Thanks again for matching us up/ the opportunity - it’s very helpful.

Anna Klis-Davies was helped by Tom Watson

Digital Candle: "such a clever idea"

July 1, 2021

My favourite bit of feedback this month was from an expert who said: "Thanks Andy, such a clever idea :-)" 

(For what it is worth, it was Matt Collins' idea - so he deserves any credit.)

Here's a couple of charities that have benefitted

I’d like to give some more feedback on Digital Candle generally actually, it’s so brilliant. Our expert helped me on Google Ads a huge amount and has helped our organisation traffic a lot. Digital Candle is brilliant! 

Becca Thomas at Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis

Thank you for putting me in touch with Megan. We have just had a great conversation and I now know what I need to do next as well as having had some space to think through the major issues involved.

Esther Elliott, Workplace and Community Chaplain, West Edinburgh

Hope you all are well! 

C'mon England! ;-)

Digital Candle Experts Slack channel - Join now

June 21, 2021

Even after 674 question to our 423 wonderful experts, we still get questions that stump us. Question that doesn't fit with the self-declared expertise of any of our experts. Questions where I just wouldn't know where to start.

We now post those stumpers to a channel on the Agencies for Good Slack. A bunch of Candle experts have already gathered. Scratching multiple heads seems to work.

If you want to join, complete the Request to Join form. Then, when you are in the Slack, head to the #Digital-Candle channel.

Hope to see you there! 

Live action from the Digital Candle Slack channel




Test the experts! May 27th

May 24, 2021

Digital Candle experts are back for their reguar 'Gardener's Question Time' of tech questions, at the Small Charities Coalition. Thurs May 27th at 1pm.

Sign up here: Eventbrite tickets


Featuring:

Andy Bell

digitalcandle.org.uk

Website design, Facebook marketing, digital strategy, evaluating software

Rose Lanigan

ruzasolutions.co.uk

CRM Databases for the third sector, also experience with web design and IT infrastructure

Chris Turner

brightbluekite.io

Digital strategy, website launches and rebuilds, content and social strategy, SEO basics, email marketing

Agata Taylor

linkedin.com/in/agata-taylor-185292b5/

IT procurement, SAAS, IT hardware, licence and IT services (e-commerce transformation).

Facilitator: Amy Walton, SCC

Thank you, experts!

April 30, 2021


The great joy of running Candle is when an introduction really hits the spot. Here's some of the lovely emails received from charities this week:

Just want to say a big thank you to you for sending Joe over my way – he has been great, has helped me set up my first campaign and I am going to see how I can mirror that for others we are looking to set up.

Nabila at Living Well Consortium was helped by Joe at Ethix Digital

Thank you for such a helpful meeting today, it will be so useful in getting us to clarify what we need from our website, and also to simplify what we need to do.  Exactly what we needed!

Susannah of Make Space for Girls was helped by Gemma at Hactar

Thanks so much for connecting us with Ross. Digital Candle is such a brilliant idea and so valuable to a small social enterprise like us... It would have taken us hours of research to try it ourselves and we'd still be unsure whether we'd got it right, whereas now we feel really reassured that the issue is solved! And Ross was able to talk us through and explain each step so we actually had an idea of how it all worked, he was super clear and helpful and we're really grateful.

Charlotte of InCommon was helped by Ross Wintle

Gerard and myself had an extremely productive meeting last night. I have gotten some excellent pointers and some homework to do with regard to our advertising goals and keywords etc. Gerard is still continuing to support me... Gerard has been awesome and he clearly knows his stuff.

Andre Robberts at Enviro Crime Solutions was helped by Gerard



Test the Experts - Thurs 23rd

March 22, 2021

Digital Candle volunteers are appearing on the regular The Digital Question – Test the Experts zoom call, hosted by Small Charities Coalition. It's on Tuesday 23rd at 10am (tomorrow!). Here's the Eventbrite page if you'd like to come.

We've had a sneak peak at the questions, and there are some tricky ones this time round!

Huge thanks to Sukh Pabial, Rob Alderman and Rebecca Rae-Evans for volunteering as experts.

Ad Grants seminar - screen recording and PDF

March 11, 2021

Here's the screen recording of Ben's seminar. Here's the PDF.

Wow - I never realised that Ad Grants is worth $10,000 per month and available to every registered charity in the UK.

Ben said he'd love your feedback. If you have any thoughts, please complete his survey (approx. 1 min).  You can also find Empower's free guides to Google Ads for charities here.




More Candlesticks to the rescue

March 5, 2021
It was so helpful to hear Frazer's thoughts on the data migration process and the pitfalls we need to be aware of. Thank you so much for putting me in contact with Frazer, it was a massive help.

Shideh of Nova New Opportunities was helped by Frazer from Rephase

William and I had a chat on Friday and I wanted to feedback that I found it incredibly helpful. I’ve found the Digital Candle hour chat really useful when needing to order my thoughts and get a plan of action in place.

Sorana of Women in Prison was helped by William from Mortada

Free seminar on Ad Grants: 1pm on 9th March

March 1, 2021

Google Ad Grants (and Google advertising in general) is one of the most common areas we get asked about at Digital Candle. Recently, we've had many more questions on the topic than volunteer experts to answer them!

On Tuesday 9th March, we are holding a free group seminar at 1pm. Ben, from Empower, has kindly agreed to lead a session about Google Ad Grants. He'll explore:

  • How to get started with Ad Grants
  • How to improve your clickthrough rate

and then he'll answer any questions you have.

If you'd like to come, email andy@digitalcandle.org.uk. I'll send you an invite to the Zoom chat. Also, we'll post a video on the Candle blog after the event.

Roundtable chat with charities

February 12, 2021

Each month, Digital Candle introduces about 30 charities to volunteer experts. The feedback we get on these calls is typically tremendous.

If you are a charity that has used Candle (or has considered using Candle!), we’d love to get your thoughts on how to make the service even better.  We’d like to invite you to a Zoom roundtable discussion on Thurs 25th February at 1 pm.

We plan to explore questions like:

  • Where does the Candle service most need improving?
  • What would encourage you to ask another question?
  • What would make your peers in other similar charities ask a question?
  • How can we reach the charities that most need digital help?

If you’d like to come, email andy@digitalcandle.org.uk and I’ll send you an invite.

Hope to see you there. We’d really appreciate your input.

Digital Candle in Charity Digital

February 8, 2021

We speak to Andy Bell and Matt Collins, managers of Digital Candle, about their digital advice service and ask about the biggest digital challenges facing the charity sector

Here's a nice write up about Digital Candle in Charity Digital.

It went really really really well!

February 3, 2021
It went really really really well! Thank you so much. We have a follow up next week and then we are good to go.

Love this bit of feedback from Shernette May at Sherwood Park Hall. Thanks Jennifer James of Little Things Digital for providing your expertise!

The Digital Question – Test the Experts

January 20, 2021

Digital Candle experts have been answering questions at the The Digital Question – Test the Experts sessions.

The next session is today, at 11am. Pop along if you are free! 

Thanks to the following experts for volunteering their time: 

Gwenno Jones - ethixdigital.com
Expertise: Facebook Ads, Google Search Ads, Google Shopping Ads

Michael O'Toole -  mjco.uk
Expertise: CRM (CiviCRM), Office 365, General IT,

Camilla Field - imagesbyfield.co.uk
Expertise: Digital strategy, digital transformation, digital marketing, social media.

"Couldn't have asked for more"

January 18, 2021
Couldn't have asked for more from the 40 minutes that Oliver & I spent on this. Simply put he did just what I needed - offered an alternative way to achieve the goal I was working towards. His alternative suggestion broke the logjam and now I can see how we can do things.

Stuart at Baggator was helped by Candle Expert Oliver at Northbridge Digital

Candle experts: Gwenno Jones @ Ethix Digital

December 15, 2020

We’ve been catching up with some of the tech experts from Candle, to get a glimpse into their thinking and the experience of doing a Candle call. Gwenno is from digital marketing agency Ethix Digital


Why did you get involved with Digital Candle? 

We are a small agency, just getting started. It’s nice to talk to new people especially during lockdown. And it has been good for new business development

Could you share any tips that we can pass on to future experts, for making a Digital Candle call go well? 

I obsessively prepare for it… but my co-founder has done some calls and he tends to taking a more relaxed approach. That seems to work too. 

People don’t ask the question I thought they would ask. Most questions are really about how to get started.

Because I’m working on Facebook marketing every day I tend to be focused on the details. To do a Candle call, it’s necessary to take a step back and think about the big picture. 

My tip would be: at the start of the call, spend a decent amount finding out what precise role that the person does. If you are talking to a manager, it is different from talking to someone who is actually doing the job. 

How long did your call last: was it an hour, or longer / shorter?

Most of them have been shorter. A lot of the time people don’t need an hour. Or maybe they need half an hour, and then will come back a couple of weeks to discuss how they’ve been getting on. 

What did you find rewarding about doing a Candle call? Did you learn / take away anything useful from the experience?

It helped me think more broadly about digital marketing; seeing that process whereby businesses decide whether to invest in marketing. 

Because I work in a small agency, I don’t get many chances to talk to new people, especially in lockdown. It’s a pleasure to hear new views and let them challenge the way I think.


In general, where do you think are the biggest potential wins for charities when it comes to digital?

It's important to understand the value of digital marketing and get expert advice, as there's a lot more to it than people think 

What would you improve about Candle? 

I really like simplicity. The vibe is ‘this person wants your help, get on with helping them’. I like that.


Candle experts: Ben Serbutt @ Fat Beehive

December 14, 2020

We’ve been catching up with some of the tech experts from Candle, to get a glimpse into their thinking and the experience of doing a Candle call. Ben is Head of Creative from ethical web design agency Fat Beehive

Why did you get involved with Digital Candle?

We are offered two days of volunteering per year at Fat Beehive as part of our benefits package. This seemed like a good way to share my digital experience, especially with those smaller charities that are at the early stages of their digital journey or might have a range of questions that need strategic answers.

I’ve also previously worked in volunteer recruitment and retention for the Olympic legacy project, so I’m aware of how good volunteering is for your wellbeing. 

How long did your call last: was it an hour, or longer / shorter?

All of the calls were at least an hour, one longer, but I’m generally happy to chat for as long as they need!

Did the charities ask any questions that you found difficult to answer?

There was a real range of digital knowledge and experience, which I’ve found fascinating so far. Some questions were creative, others technical but many were around strategy and organisational change, services being offered or marketing and communications strategy – things digital projects often inadvertently raise. 

For the questions that bordered my areas of expertise, I just said ask someone new on a different Digital Candle call or introduced them to another expert in my contacts.  

What did you find rewarding about doing a Candle call? Did you learn / take away anything useful from the experience?

I’ve found it very rewarding and am looking forward to doing more calls in 2021. It’s a lovely way to spread knowledge, share experiences and offer best-practice advice. It helps me consider the advantages and limitations of digital and where pixels might not actually be the solution to the challenges raised.

What would you improve about Candle?

It depends on the ambition for the project, as managing and recruiting volunteers is a skill in itself. Perhaps Candle could introduce a co-ordinated programme rewarding volunteers to ensure retention? 

It’s good to hear you’re already looking at ways to reach even more charities, as so many are undergoing a fast-tracked digital transformation, given the year we’ve just had.

But overall communication is handled extremely well, with the level being just right for someone like me to help out when I can.





Help Candle help more charities

December 9, 2020


Candle gets rave reviews.

We've got plenty of experts wanting to offer their help.

One thing holds us back: not enough charities know about Candle!

Here's two ways to help: 

Digital Candle social media card

1. Talk about Candle on your socials
We’ve created a social media card (above): if you share with a short message, that would be much appreciated. This card is sized for Twitter and LinkedIn; if you would like one formatted for Instagram or other platforms, let us know.

Add your experience to Linkedin

2. Add your volunteer role on Linkedin
Here’s our profile. The flow should something like the animation above.


"One of the most useful meetings I've had in a long time"

November 25, 2020
“My Digital Candle call was one of the most useful meetings I’ve had in a long time – so much learning and reflection was packed into one hour of volunteer time. I’m rethinking my project plan as a result!”

Lisa Matthews from Right to Remain was helped by Jo Johnson from Jelly Mould. Thanks Jo for helping. Thanks Lisa for sharing this feedback.

Any suggestions: a phone system for at-home volunteers?

November 4, 2020

Digital Candle has just received the following request. It doesn't fit with the stated expertise of any of our experts, but someone out there must know!

If you've got any suggestions on this - or would be happy to chat to the charity grappling with this issue - email andy@digitalcandle.org.uk

We are a small charity, setting up a telephone helpline for people to call when they need basic help with a digital device or task.

Calls to the helpline will go to voicemail, and messages will then be assigned to one of a team of volunteers, who will call the person back.

It's important to note that the volunteers are very part-time, and each one may only be available for a few hours a month; they will not be manning a phoneline from a desk full-time like a call centre employee. We hope to have 50-100 volunteers in total. They will be working from home and we want them to be able to use their own mobile phone, and/or a desktop app, to make their calls.

We are seeking help from Digital Candle because we have not yet found a tech solution that provides what we need, but we believe other small charities out there must already be running similar services and we hope one of your experts might know what kinds of tech systems they are using and be able to give us some recommendations.

A summary of the features we need:
* a service that includes a functional mobile app for iOS and Android: that notifies a volunteer when they have been assigned a message to respond to, and allows them easily to call from within the app
* ideally a desktop app for Windows and MacOS, in addition to the mobile app
* the app should make calls using WiFi, not using the volunteer's personal minutes or data allowance
* the call should use number masking, ie appear to be coming from our central helpline number, not the volunteer's personal number
* to be able to track the call, mark it as responded to, and allow the volunteer to add notes and for example tag it as done or to follow up further etc. Ideally this would be within the calling app, as well as automatically passed through to an internal CRM backend (we currently use Airtable but HubSpot or similar would be fine too)
* a coordinator should be able to assign a new voicemail messages to a volunteer, and for others to see that the call has been assigned and is no longer in the inbound queue
* pricing: many services seem to have a per-user pricing model eg £25 per user per month. But with our setup, of many very part-time users, this is unsuitable and unaffordable. So we need a solution with a flat or per-call fee system rather than per user. Ideally a company offering a charity discount too.

We have trialled Aircall, which fulfils many of the needs above but unfortunately their iOS app isn't yet fully functional.

We are planning to trial other products such as Aloware, Freshworks and JustCall.

We think we may be asking a lot for everything to be handled within a single app frontend, and so we are happy to cobble something together from different services. Obviously more integrated is better! But our priority is an easy and stable experience for the volunteer users, more than needing a simple backend/CRM system "internally".

Thank you in advance for any advice on what others are using to achieve this kind of service. We're hoping to launch our helpline as soon as possible so we'd very much appreciate a response from someone soon.

If you've got any suggestions on this - or would be happy to chat to the charity grappling with this issue - email andy@digitalcandle.org.uk

Happy Candlesticks (part 4)

October 26, 2020
“Big thanks for the support – it makes a massive difference.”

Penelope Tobin at Barrier Breakers Foundation was helped by Harry Harold at Neontribe.

"Thank you very much for the call this morning. It was very informative and insightful. The holistic approach you recommended is what we needed to hear and it has given us a lot of food for thought."

Jennifer Baidoo at Proud and Loud Arts was helped by Gemma Hampson at Hactar.

Thank you, all, for making this happen!

LinkedIn page, updateable experts and GMS

October 20, 2020

LinkedIn page

After much prodding, we've finally created a Digital Candle LinkedIn page. This means experts can add a Candle Volunteering Experience to their Linkedin details, something like.

Example Volunteering snippet on Linkedin.


(To do this, go to your profile on Linkedin, then click on 'Add Profile Section' then scroll down to 'Volunterring Experience'.)

Updatable experts

Experts, you can now update your expertise and desired frequency of calls. If you are a Candle expert, you should have received an email with a special link to update your info. If you haven't, check your spam folder. Failing that, email me: andy@digitalcandle.org.uk.

Grant Management Systems

A charity wanted help with a Grant Management System. None of our 269 experts claimed knowledge of Grant Management Systems, so I asked a couple of possible experts.

I enjoyed this response from Dr Joe Reddington at eQuality time.

Supporting Small Charities Coalition

Today at 2pm experts from Candle will be supporting 45 charities in one hour in Small Charities Coalition's 'Test the Experts' Zoom call. Good luck! 

300 introductions made. Thank you!

October 1, 2020

We've now made 300 introductions. We keep gettting great feedback from charities. Thank you, experts, for making this ppssible.

Thank you so much for organising this for us. I’ve just come off the call with Tallie and I can’t tell you how useful it was. Her suggestions were realistic for us as an organisation to implement and streamline what we’re doing and where online, so we can work out what works for us and focus on that. Tallie gave me some easy to use suggestions that made sense and were achievable.

Hannah from Dorset Youth Association who was helped by Tallie from helpfuldigital.com

Joe gave me great tips to make the most of our Google Ad Grants account. I will get started with his suggestions and hopefully see some results soon.

Claudia from familylinks.org.uk was helped by Joe from ethixdigital.com

Upcoming changes

  • We made a bit of a blunder when we started: we didn't ask experts often they'd be prepared to do a call, so we had to assume it was only once. Now we are running short of experts, but we get the impression that most Candle experts are prepared to help more than once. Please update your details when you see that email.
  • We are about to introduce a feedack system, so both experts and charities can say whether a call happened and whether it was helpful.

Helping real charities with real problems

September 14, 2020

Nick at Redcar and Cleveland Mind was helped by Adam at Digital Changemakers

I would definitely recommend Digital Candle to other small charities. They selected Adam, who was very knowledgeable in the field of CRM systems. It helped us move forward with our procurement process. Adam understood the sector and the challenges our organisation was facing. He offered very useful advice.


Moira at Dorset Blind was helped by Andy at SIDE Labs.

Andy gave several useful suggestions and it was helpful to see a couple of actual examples he had been working on for another provider. A very simple and straightforward service and I will be mentioning the service and its benefits to my CEO.

Enjoy the beach!

August 21, 2020

August is very quiet at Digital Candle. I hope everyone is enjoying summer holidays.

Here's some nice feedback, from Rachel Shaw at Deaf-initely Women

Thank you so much for helping me with guidance on digital workshops/events in term of GDPR, online booking, feedback etc. Thank you also for all the links – certainly giving me food for thoughts on improving our end. You were very helpful and patient explaining to me and I really appreciate that.

Huge thanks to Corinna Hartwig the Candle Expert who helped Rachel in this case.

Happy Candlesticks, live chat and Airtable

July 15, 2020

Thanks to Ben Serbutt from Fat Beehive who helped Angela.

Also, thanks to John Stewart from Ten4 Design who helped Dumitru Puscasu: 

John was very responsive and offered me a coaching session right away. The coaching session went very well and I have quite a few things to think about and work on. I am very glad to you and John for all your support.

Thanks to all the other Candlesticks who volunteered this month! Your generosity makes Candle possible.

Tech update

We've made a batch of improvements: 

  1. We've moved our sign-up process from Google Sheets to Airtable. Airtable facilitates a much quicker matching process and removes ugly duplication of data. It also lets us automatically create the intro emails. This feels like a big win.
  2. As an experiment, we've added an Intercom live chat widget to the website, to see if that helps charities frame their question before filling in a form. (We've got an inkling that framing the question is a blocker.)
  3. We've created an Asana board. This is a glorified to-do list, but better than no to-do list.

200 introductions later; supporting Domestic Abuse charities; people say nice things

June 15, 2020

I'm delighted to say we have now supported over 200 charities. 204 to be exact! We made our first introductions in February, so we are making about 40 introductions per month.

Supporting Domestic Abuse charities

We've launched a special landing page for charities working in Domestic Abuse. On the expert side, we've got a bunch of digital experts at Neontribe who are particularly keen to help in this area.

We are keen to hear from other umbrella organisations who would like their own landing page, phrased to meet the needs of charities in their area. We'll make this for free. Now we know that charities find Digital Candle useful, the biggest challenge is encouraging charities to post their questions. By creating special landing pages, we hope to be that little bit more enticing.

Experts needed

A number of charities are asking for advice on running conferences or festivals online. Currently, we haven't got a single expert in this area. It must be one of the top emerging skills of 2020! If this is an area of expertise - or even something you are happy to chew the fat about - we'd love to add you as one of our experts. Email andy@digitalcandle.org.uk.

Oh, while we on the subject, I'd love to hear from experts in elearning systems. That is another area where we are short.

Some most excellent questions

Thanks Ross for these questions.

Answers: 

  • There's no follow up to a Digital Candle call. In the initial email, we say 'please send us feedback' (and we do love feedback... even just a snippet to say 'this call happened' is much appreciated!). But we do aim to make the service as lightweight as possible.
  • There's no official mechanism to say you'd like to do more calls. (We are planning to implement something soon.) But we are short of experts! If you are happy to do more calls, email andy@digitalcandle.org.uk. (Saying something like 'I could do one a fortnight' or 'I can do a handful more' is super useful.)

People say the nicest things

Jessica Spraos at Chayn, who was helped by Gwenno at Ethixdigital, said: 

I just wanted to say a BIG thank you for putting me in touch with Gwenno. She was absolutely fantastic and took all the intimidation out of getting our Google Ads Grants account set up. This will really help our organization! Chayn is really grateful to have benefited from this wonderful initiative.

Keith Merriman at Abingdon Digital said:

I really enjoyed it and would love to do more with other charities as and when they come up!

He was helping Patricia David at Hounslow Youth Counselling Service:

I just wanted to say thank you for linking me up with Keith. We spoke today and it has been really useful to have someone understand my technology problem and to help with giving me ideas for solutions. He was really lovely and so helpful.


As ever, thank you experts! Your generosity makes this possible. I keep hearing from charities how much they value the service: one hour of your time makes a huge difference.

Weeknotes #6: "It’s completely changed everything actually"

June 1, 2020


Big thanks to William Joseph who conducted some pro-bono research into the experience of charities using Candle. We were delighted with what they found. Their report starts by saying that Digital Candle is:

Highly valued by vast majority.

“Thanks for your help, it was really instrumental.”

Most said that Candle was a way to start their digital transformation - giving confidence by helping people with where to begin. Practical advice by those that have been through the same experience was most important

“It’s completely changed everything actually”

“It gave us confidence to keep it simple rather than trying to do everything. Focus on one or two things well.”


The researchers found three areas for improvement: 

1. There was some nervousness about the call being a sales pitch. It's Important that it wasn’t a ‘sell’ call and was run independently.

2. There was some confusion about who Digital Candle is run by, what exactly it is and what the roles of Catalyst and Platypus are. (Note: we've tweaked our FAQ to make this clearer.)

3. The most productive calls were when a charity sent through information beforehand and the mentor had a chance to prepare ideas. One negative comment was when this didn’t happen:

All three of these could be improved by clearer messaging, so that's something we are going to work on.

Overall, I'm tremendously enthused by the positive feedback. It is clear that Candle is highly appreciated. I'm keen to find ways to reach more charities, as each conversation we enable unlocks a small cascade of benefits, first to the charity and then to that charity's users.

Thank you, experts! It's your generosity with your time that makes Candle possible.  

Weeknotes #5: online events, AdWords experts and more

May 18, 2020

150 introductions made!

In fact, we’ve blown past the 150 mark. We've now made 163 introductions since we started in January.

Thanks to all the volunteer experts who make this possible. And thanks to all the charities who take the plunge, articulating their digital question in the hope that a random stranger might help.

How to make an online event go off with aplomb?

Last week, we had a handful of questions from people wanting to put on larger online events. How to make them work smoothly? How to make them fun? How to make them useful?  

I’m sure this will be an increasingly common need. Our challenge is that no one on Candle classifies themselves as an expert in the subject. It’s not something people were really considering a couple of months ago.

Is this something you've got ideas about? Have you read any good articles on the topic? Any links, tips or suggestions, please email andy@digtitalcandle.org.uk.

Call out to AdWords experts

Candle has 201 experts who have volunteered their time. Of these, eight offer Google AdWords as an area of expertise. AdWords is one area where demand for advice outstrips supply.

When experts sign up for Candle, we are only asking for an hour of time. But I was wondering, would people be happy to offer more time? Last week I plucked up courage to ask. A couple of AdWords experts said they would be happy to help every fortnight! That’s great to know. It’s experts like you who make the whole service possible. Thank you. (And anyone else with expertise in this area, please mail in!) 

Feedback

We love to hear from you! Any tips, suggestions or just to say 'hi'. Email hello@digitalcandle.org.uk.

Stay safe!

- andy


p.s. Not sure if anyone will have noticed, but apologies for missing last week’s update.

Weeknotes #4: RJ Working case study

May 4, 2020

RJ Working supports young people and adults in developing Restorative Practice as a creative approach to conflict resolution. They approached Digital Candle to identify the best platform to deliver their training online. The call helped them to decide to trial Circles for group work with adults and Zoom for Year 11 students, based on their audience, the features, functionality and security of each. Here's what they said: 

Digital Candle came at just the right time and was very reassuring. Having a sounding board helped articulate what we were looking for and why, it helped us identify what platform to use and gave us resources to follow up with our new safeguarding policy.

Weeknotes #3: safeguarding online

April 27, 2020

Zoom, security and safeguarding online

We’ve been getting lots of questions about Zoom, security and safeguarding online. Joe Roberson is a Candle expert with knowledge in this area. He's distilled his thinking, and the questions arising some Candle calls, into a pair of articles: 

The difference a digital expert can make

Here's a nice bit of feedback from a charity that wishes to remain anonymous. Thank you, expert James

We had a really productive one hour tutorial with James, thanks for putting us in touch. He is very professional and took a real interest in our cause. He will try to help us to identify a platform to transform our training to, and offered to help check the consultants we might hire for this work. Also, he gave me great advice how to make our first Zoom trial training session this Friday go more smoothly.

Really useful and helpful, thank you very much.

Weeknotes #2: thank you, experts!

April 21, 2020

Thank you, experts! 

We keep getting fabulous feedback from the charities you've been helping. For instance:

It was incredibly helpful and a fabulous use of an hour.

- Gemma Juma, setting up a charitable foundation at Petchey

I just wanted to feed back that this was a really useful and productive hour for me, thank you! Jim, my expert, was able to give me a really useful summary and also answer my detailed questions thoroughly and thoughtfully. What’s more, we were able to touch on two other areas very effectively in our hour – sponsored events fundraising and a quick review of a crowdfunder appeal page. Add all that together and the call was worth its weight in gold! Thank you again.

- Darragh Grey, Bonny Downs

A huge thank you to Michael O'Toole who helped Gemma and Jim Paterson who helped Darragh... and to the many other experts who've given their time this week.

Digital Candle to do list

I had planned to do these last week, but lockdown life got in the way.

Improve system whereby we find out whether conversations have actually happened

This is still my biggest unknown and biggest worry. What proportion of matches actually lead to a conversation? There have only been a couple of complaints but perhaps people are unlikely to complain as Candle is a free service.

A couple of ideas how to fix this:

  • Put a button on the intro email that says “when you’ve had your session, please click this link, to confirm you’ve managed to make contact”.
  • Set up an automated email that goes out x days after the introduction, saying please reply if you haven’t been able to make contact.

Any brilliant ideas appreciated!

Improve data on our experts

There’s a few thing we don’t know about Digital Candle experts. Are they willing to do multiple calls, or did they sign up on the understanding it is just one? Are they still up for it? Have their skills changed?

I’m going to investigate using: https://miniextensions.com/airtable-edit-form/ which allows each recipient to edit just their own data. As our data is currently in Google Sheets (not Airtable) this will be a bit of pain. I'd love to hear if anyone knows of a Google Sheets way of doing this. Or any other ideas.

And finally...

Feedback

We love to hear from you! Any tips, suggestions or just to say 'hi'. Email Andy on hello@digitalcandle.org.uk

Weeknotes #1: more experts needed, service improvements

April 19, 2020
Charity requests to Candle, per day


Currently we are getting lots of Covid-realted questions about making the switch to remote service delivery. We are running at about 12 enquiries a week.

Initially we had many more experts offering advice than charities needing it. Now charities have caught up, meaning we need more experts.

Compounding this, in the sign up flow, we didn't ask experts if they'd be willing to do more than one call - so I'm a bit stuck as to which experts are willing to offer their advice another time! We'll be emailing our experts to see whether they'd be up for doing additional calls. If you know any digital experts, please encourage them to sign up.  And bear in mind, you don't need to be a a PhD-level computer scientist to count as an expert in the Digital Candle world. If you know a bit about Zoom or Facebook or remote service delivery, we've got charities that would love your help.

We keep hearing that being an expert is a wonderful way to make a (small!) positive impact on the world. For instance, Sonja Wiencke at Evaltech just emailed to say: 

I've had a first call with Joy, we'll have another one on Friday. This was my first digital candle call and I wanted to let you know it was great. Thanks for setting it up!

Work in progress

  • The agency William Joseph have generously offered to conduct some user research, to give us an external view on how we could improve Digital Candle. Thanks! They'll be getting in touch with some of the charities who have used Candle shortly.
  • One thing that nags at me is that I'm not sure what proportion of Digital Candle calls actually happen, following the introduction. Almost all the feedback we receive is positive but I've got an inkling that people are too polite to complain if their opposite party never responds. Two things I'm considering: (i) a very short follow-up email to the charity, two days after the initial introduction asking 'have you made contact' or (ii) a link in the initial email saying - please click to confirm once you've made contact. I'd love any other suggestions of how best to shed light on this.

Links on remote service delivery

For people wondering about about service delivery remotely. Here's a couple of articles we've found useful when providing guidance on the topic: 

Feedback

We love to hear from you! Any tips, suggestions or just to say 'hi'. Email Andy on hello@digitalcandle.org.uk

Candle brings joy and illumination

April 10, 2020

A great pleasure of making Digital Candle introductions is that both the charities and the experts get so much out of it. Here's some of the feedback we've received in the last fortnight:

From charities

'[The Expert] really helped us to identify the sort of platform we may need to reach the children and families who attend our schools during closures so that we may provide them with a healthy breakfast... the work already done has been incredibly valuable.'

Emily Wilkie, Magic Breakfast

[The Expert] was able to give some no-nonsense advice in a down-to-earth and approachable way without inducing in me any fear or sense of being sold a marketing line. I’ve got a much clearer idea now of what I want to do with social media and how to fit it into my strategy.

Steve Sayers, Windmill City Farm

From experts

'This was a really smashing way to start my working day today, thank you.'

Sarah Carter, talentwitch.com

I just wanted to let you know that my session... went well this morning. We had a really enjoyable hour discussing the ways they could take things forward. In fact they are doing a lot of good things already too, so I think it was a productive conversation.

Gill Munro, Common Sense Social

If you like to join the fun, sign up as an expert here or request advice as a charity here!

What's it like doing a Candle call?

April 10, 2020

If you are considering signing up as an expert but not sure what you are getting yourself in for, here's reports from two people who took the plunge: 

What would you say if you only had 60 minutes to give an organisation all the digital advice they needed to run an engaging online strategy? This was the challenge I faced when I got matched up with a charity as part of the Digital Candle initiative.

Tallie Proud at Helpful Digital: An hour to talk digital

Today I had my first Digital Candle call with someone from a community centre. She used the hour-long call to talk about how to start a digital strategy project.

Madeline Sugden: Getting Started With Digital Strategy

If you are knowledgeable about digital, joining Candle is a high impact, low-hassle way to make a difference. All the evidence is that our charities find it super valuable to talk to a digital expert. A one-hour call often sets them on a new trajectory. Sign up as an expert here!