Helping Respect put together a podcasting funding application

April 4, 2023

“Thank you Digital Candle!”

Davina works for Respect, a charity working to end domestic abuse.

The challenge

Davina was preparing a funding bid to cover the costs of producing around thirty 10-20 minute podcasts. The idea was to do some interviews on Zoom, edit them and add a nice musical intro. 

But she’d never actually done this before. She was struggling to work out what a reasonable budget would be to cover the technical costs, like a reasonable standard microphone, digital recorder, or anything else she might need? 

She was thinking the podcasts could be uploaded onto the charity’s website but needed confirmation on that too.

She needed expert help. And that’s where Digital Candle came in.

The solution

Davina reached out to Digital Candle. She filled in the form on our website, outlining the problem and what success would look like. 

Luckily, we had someone on hand ready to help Davina. “I got a super speedy response,” agrees Davina. 

We introduced them by email and they set up a time to speak over a video call. 

They talked through everything they would need to budget for, including microphones, software to record and edit the audio, and a platform that would distribute the podcast to podcasting outlets like Apple Podcasts. 

The results

“I was put in touch with a very knowledgeable person,” said a delighted Davina. “After talking through all the things I needed to think about, I was able to submit a grant application. 

“I really felt secure in the knowledge that I had budgeted for everything.”

“Thank you Digital Candle!”

If you’re struggling with budgeting for digital projects and need some free advice, you too can just ask a question and get matched with an expert.

Digital Candle helps The Together Project move their email domain

April 3, 2023

“Digital Candle is brilliant, I recommend it to everyone I speak to who works in the charity sector.”

The challenge

Managing IT can be really tricky at charities. Very few people were hired for their hardware skills. Yet they still find themselves as the charity’s accidental techie because they once connected a monitor to a laptop. 

Louise Goulden was struggling with one such problem. Her charity, The Together Project, needed to move its emails from one domain to another. 

Their emails were hosted on a Google for Non Profits Workspace account. They owned (their original domain) and (set up more recently). 

Their emails used the domain and they wanted to switch to as the primary email, while still getting the emails). 

“I did try to manage this myself,” said Louise, “But I was finding it extremely confusing. I was really nervous about messing it up!”

The solution

So Louise reached out to Digital Candle. 

She filled in the form on our website, said she needed help moving her emails across. 

We had a look on our database for someone with IT skills, and quickly found someone who could help. 

We introduced them by email within 24 hours of Louise asking the question. They booked a call where Louise ran through her challenge and what she wanted to happen. 

The result

“It was excellent!” said a delighted Louise. “Jonathan was so friendly and helpful. He really wanted to get to the bottom of things for us and find the best solution.”

“Not only did he sort out the issue we'd been having, he uncovered a different issue that we didn't know we'd got - and fixed that too!”

If you’re struggling with your IT and need some free advice, you too can just ask a question and get matched with an expert.

How Digital Candle helped moved a small charity to a VoIP system

March 29, 2023

“Digital Candle was a quick service. The results mean we can maintain contact with the people that the charity supports.”

The challenge

Ben works for DASH Ceredigion, which organises leisure schemes for children with additional needs, disabled children and young people within the county of Ceredigion in Wales.

They had an established landline phone number for decades, and people knew it well. But they were moving out of the area, with people also working from home, and didn’t want to confuse people by changing their phone number. That could mean losing touch with people who really needed their help.

They imagined they’d probably only need one person using the new system, and wanted to retain the option of having several people use it if needed.

They thought that there would be an online phone number option that would help them keep their phone number. They’d looked at Microsoft Voice and Google Voice, but they wanted to understand all the options before leaping in and assess whether they were right for them.

The solution

So Ben reached out to Digital Candle. He completed the form on our website, outlining his challenge.

And we had just the expert to help - Emrys.

We introduced them by email and they set up a time to speak over a video call. 

“Emrys guided and educated me to understand what service might benefit me the most,” said Ben. 

“We had identified one service we thought could be the one. But thanks to Emrys’s guidance, I understood that the service I had identified would not have been useful in the medium to long term. Together, we were able to identify another.”

The results

“Emrys was very helpful and honest.”

“Digital Candle was a quick service. The results mean we can maintain contact with the people that the charity supports.”

If you’re struggling with assessing VOIP phone systems and need some free advice, you too can just ask a question and get matched with an expert.

Helping Dorset Youth Make Better Digital Decisions

March 13, 2023

Charities have to manage lots of information about their internal projects, supporters, and other stakeholders. However, many small charities don't have the tools to effectively organise the amount of data they need - which can complicate internal and external project management.

Hannah Snowdon found this problem while working as Clubs & Groups Project Worker for Dorset Youth. The charity is responsible for supporting numerous local youth clubs and collaborates with other charities. With so much vital information to keep track of, the charity was struggling.

"We knew that we needed some sort of system to file and keep track of it because spreadsheets and Word documents just weren't cutting it," Hannah says.

Hannah had already taken advantage of the Digital Candle service for another area of her work and knew it was the right place to go for advice from someone skilled in digital solutions.

Working through solutions

After submitting her question online, Hannah was quickly introduced to her expert via email. In this case, her expert was someone with expertise in information management challenges and CRM software.  

They booked a one-hour video call. Hannah was able to talk through her challenge in detail and get insights on how to approach evaluating different CRM tools.

"We spoke through the possibilities of different CRM systems and the benefits and disadvantages of an off-the-shelf system or one that may be designed," Hannah explains.

Instead of pushing Hannah towards a particular CRM, her expert gave her the tools necessary to independently explore the charity's needs and decide which tool would be best

"It was less about giving us the solution and more about thinking, 'this is what you need to consider when you're designing a CRM or looking to commission a CRM,'" she says.

The importance of independent advice  

All of Digital Candle's experts will offer completely unbiased advice on your charity's problem, allowing you complete control over the solution you choose.

Charities can submit a second question if, like Hannah, they have more than one problem they need help with or want a second opinion.

Hannah says she never felt pushed to choose one tool over another. "He stated his preference and would say that this tool fit his situation in this instance, but it wasn't, 'you have to do this,'" she says.

"It was just such a simple process, and the people donating their time are really knowledgeable - they seem really willing to share their knowledge to benefit others," Hannah concludes.

Empowering better decision making

Even though the charity didn't decide on a new CRM immediately because of a change in senior management, Hannah says that getting advice from an expert was invaluable.

"The call framed the thinking enough to know when the new CEO came in that we needed something more bespoke," she explains.

As a result, Dorset Youth commissioned a purpose-built CRM for the charity. Hannah says that the process wouldn't have been so easy without that expert advice.

"I don't think we would have been able to do that without knowing what the different CRM systems could do for us," she asserts.

"That helped us have the confidence to say 'this solution isn't right,'" Hannah adds. "If we didn't have the information beforehand, it might have been tempting to say, 'well, this isn't quite what we want, but we'll go with it because it is a solution."

Developing a Social Media Strategy for Dorset Youth

March 6, 2023

Social strategies are vital for charities to build an audience and engage with supporters. However, without skills in social media strategy, many charities risk having their efforts go to waste.  

Hannah Snowdon joined Dorset Youth as a Clubs & Groups Project Worker in 2017 shortly after many of the local youth clubs had funding withdrawn. As a result, her role was extremely hands-on, encompassing HR, communication, and running the charity's social media accounts.

"I realised very quickly that I wasn't a social media expert, and we needed a bit of help and direction," Hannah explains.

She had seen Digital Candle advertised and couldn't pass up the chance to get free help, so she posted her question about improving the charity's social media strategy.

"It was a really good way for us to kind of self-coach a bit with any advice we could explore," she adds.

Getting expert social media advice from an expert

Digital Candle represents a team of over 500 experts, each with unique skills in digital. Once Hannah had submitted her question, she was introduced to her social media expert over email, and the pair organised a time for their one-hour call.

"She had done research on our social media accounts and brought information with her, which I was really impressed with," Hannah says.

Over the hour, Hannah explained the social media challenges she had and gained advice on the specifics of each social platform and possible scheduling tools. Her expert also offered additional advice on related areas.

"We talked about branding and Mailchimp and newsletters as well, which kind of wasn't part of the original question but was relevant," she adds. "I think I made four or five pages of notes because she gave me loads of good information."

Implementing a better social strategy after the call

After her call, Hannah came away with a solid understanding of where the charity was going wrong with its social media, leading to a more focused approach.

"It really made us think about where we wanted to post: we had a Facebook profile, an Instagram profile, a Twitter profile, plus a LinkedIn profile and stuff on YouTube as well. It focused our efforts," Hannah asserts.

She adds that the fact that her hour of advice was free was invaluable, as it saved the charity money that may have been spent employing a social media manager.

"Our social media posting became more frequent; we were getting better impressions and better reach. Seeing our social media presence improve was really rewarding."

Getting a better sense of direction

Hannah says that the free social media advice gained through her Digital Candle call was incredibly empowering, especially when communicating with senior leadership at the charity.

"I had got a bit stuck in the sense that I knew what we were doing needed changing, but I didn't know how to change it," Hannah admits. "I was able to go to the senior leadership and say, 'I think this is the direction that we should take.'"

How Dorset Youth used Digital Candle to get social media advice.

Free IT tender template for small charities

January 24, 2023

We often need IT work done fast.

It feels safe to follow a colleague’s recommendation for someone who can do it, or look at online reviews.

You might have a reassuring call with a vendor. They might offer you a great discount available for a limited time. Sounds great.

So why make it more complicated and use a Request for Quotation (RFQ) to get more quotes?

- If you're investing in a complex solution or partnership that could last years, making the wrong choice could cost a lot.

- You can simplify the process with clear, pre-agreed requirements.

- They give you reliable comparisons with fewer misunderstandings. They help you stay focused on what is important to your organization.

If you just need some advice on what's possible, you could use a broader Request for Information (RFI) instead. That is a problem statement that you want responses to solve.

Using this RFQ template

This request for quotation (RFQ) template helps to help articulate your IT requirements to potential vendors. They then use it to give you a detailed quote that can meet your needs.

Download the template here - just click Download in the top left to download your own copy.

Edit any items in italics with your own information.

The template won't cover every scenario. But it should prompt questions to help list your requirements and avoid some common omissions.

Once you've completed the RFQ template

Once you have completed your RFQ, have an initial conversation with a shortlist of vendors to check that the RFQ is a good fit for their organisation. You can then shorten the list, and send the RFQ to the shortened list.

If you have complex needs, you can write a basic brief and get detailed responses in the proposals to compare. You could then hold workshops with each shortlisted vendor where they could work with you on more detailed requirements.

Use, remove, add or change whichever elements you feel necessary. And of course, reach out to Digital Candle if you need more help!

Candle lights the way

July 21, 2022

Love this feedback 💓 💓 💓

Many thanks for the introduction to Tom.  He has been kind enough to spend time with me on a call to talk through our specific needs and then followed up with an email full of links and resources.  
I am grateful for the opportunity to have widened our knowledge about the tools available to support impact measurement at Arty-Folks especially as we are in the process of business planning.  Understanding the options for the future is essential to make the right decisions for the organization and for our beneficiaries.
It's brilliant to benefit from your knowledge and expertise and gain impartial advice.

What Digital Candle really needs - more questions

March 21, 2022

At Digital Candle, we’re a 400-strong volunteer community of experts, supremely talented on all-things digital.

It’s all about using our digital skills for the greater good. 

We match charities in a bit of a digital pickle with one of our experts for one hour of free consultancy and advice.

To give you an idea of what we know, our collective expertise spans:

  • Volunteer management systems
  • CRMs, CMS, server administration, HTML/ CSS
  • Data strategy, management, and science
  • Digital strategy and transformation
  • Social media marketing and advertising
  • SEO and search advertising
  • Service design, user research, UX design, online learning design, and
  • Assistive technology.

Now, that’s a list. You name it, there’s someone who can help.

What’s the problem?

We get several questions a week, but we could handle a lot more. We know there are many more charities out there in need of our help. 

Right now, we have more experts waiting in the wings than charities asking for help. 

We’re sure there are many reasons why we aren’t seeing the deluge of questions we’re hoping for. 

The biggest challenge is that many charities just don’t know Digital Candle exists.

You see, small charities are the biggest users of Digital Candle. And while we worked with Small Charities Coalition (before they sadly announced their closure) to reach more of them, it’s tricky to reach all 166,000 charities in the UK alone!

Especially when they might not know they need help in the first place. 

What can we do about it?

There are steps we can all take to help raise Digital Candle’s profile and make sure we’re seen by those that need us.

  1. Shout from the rooftops

Here, we’re thinking of the ‘Twilight Bark’ in 101 Dalmations. You know the bit - all the dogs in London howl into the night to tell Pongo and Perdy they’ve found the puppies. It’s emotional.

Now, imagine a network of professionals doing the same. What an excellent image.

Spread the word amongst your networks through social media - that's how lots of people heard about Digital Candle. Keep reminding people so they don’t forget.

Whichever rooftop social media platform you decide to use - Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or somewhere else entirely - be sure to include our all-important ask a question link, to direct those that need it straight to the good stuff. 

The more people that know we exist, the more charities we can help.

  1. Talk to your people

The gist of how Digital Candle works is by having your people talk to our people, so we can set up a 1-hour 1:1 chat with a suitable expert. 

It’s quick, simple, and oh so effective.

If you’re a charity professional, tell your colleagues that the resource is there - ready, waiting, and free of charge.

If you’re one of our volunteer experts and you’ve helped a charity yourself, say who you helped and what you liked about it (with their permission of course). People are way more likely to ask a question off the back of your personal story.

Everybody else, tell any and all charities you come across that they can get free help with almost any digital challenge by asking a question on Digital Candle.

You might not reach someone who needs help right now. But they might need our help later. Or know someone who knows someone who needs help. 

It’s the ripple effect we're after. 

So please spread the word, talk to your people, and who knows, you might make all the difference to a charity’s digital strategy.

Digital Candle needs more charities to ask questions. Find out more here.

Saluting our double 5-star experts

October 26, 2021

It's pretty hard to get two 5-star ratings on Digital Candle.

Only about 20% of introductions get rated by the charities, so on average you'd need to do at least 10 calls to get two 5-star ratings. It really is quite some achievement.

Without further ado, here are the fantastic Digital Candle volunteers who have received two 5-star ratings from charities:

Leonie Tayler
Brightsparks Agency
Tom Moreton
Fat Beehive
Deesha Chandra
WWF Landscape Finance Lab
Joe Brownrigg
Ethix Digital
Andrew Jacobs

Thank you all of you, and to all the other Candle volunteers, for making Candle such an inclusive and supportive community.

Introducing the new matcher-in-chief

October 25, 2021
Matt Collins, new matcher-in-chief

After 792 matches over the last 20 months, Andy Bell, current matcher-in-chief, today hands over the honour of being the spark that makes the Candle introductions.

We are delighted to say that Matt Collins, aka @CharityChap, aka the person who had the initial idea for Candle, is taking over in the introduction hot seat. He takes up this position on a manifesto of 'more timely introductions, more accurate introductions and just more introductions'. We wish him well in delivering this ambitious slate of policies.

Andy will still be working behind the scenes at Candle, mainly making the occassional improvement to the website and Airtable set up.

Test the Experts - 12 noon on 6th Oct '21

September 23, 2021

We've got another Test the Experts session with Small Charities Coalition coming up!

In the hot seat: 

Mads Mitchell, Humanist Society Scotland

CiviCRM, WordPress, Google Workspace, JumpCloud, Google Apps Script, GDPR & PECR, IT project management, digital transformation, responsive web design & front end development, Cyber Essentials requirements. Some Python. Advanced user of Excel / Google Sheets.

Rita Mantler, We Are Telescopic

Web, app and systems development with a focus on digital integrations, specialising in third party systems and business workflow optimisation

Joe Brownrigg, Ethix Digital

Paid digital media: Google Ad Grants, Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook / Instagram Ads, Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads, YouTube Ads.

Date: Wed, 6 October 2021 - 12noon to 1pm

If you'd like to witness this encounter, book now.

We are a Small Charities Coalition -approved trainer

September 23, 2021

Digital Candle has been recognised as an approved trainer by Small Charities Coalition.

SCC say:

On behalf of SCC, we would like to thank you and the amazing panelisits from Digital Candle for their incredible hard work and efforts in delivering advice sessions to small charities since October 2020.

Within these session you have all helped our members with a wide variety of questions, from CRM systems, webiste management, digital strategy, social media and mailing enquires and much more. I am looking forward to the sessions later upcoming this term.

👏👏👏 A big round of applause to all the Candle volunteers who make this possible. 👏👏👏

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


Andy Bell

Website design, Facebook marketing, digital strategy, evaluating software

Rose Lanigan

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

Chris Turner

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

Agata Taylor

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 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 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 -
Expertise: Facebook Ads, Google Search Ads, Google Shopping Ads

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

Camilla Field -
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

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

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:

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

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 was helped by Joe from

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

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.


  • 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 (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

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!) 


We love to hear from you! Any tips, suggestions or just to say 'hi'. Email

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: 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...


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

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: 


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

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,

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!