We are the champions – of the online world

This week I’ve been thinking about champions. When Queen sang about champions, they sang about winners. A champion isn’t just an advocate for a cause, they’re also a winner – an expert willing to share their expertise. And I’m thinking about it this week because of the work of a new group of champions from the UK online centres network.

These are tech-savvy centres who have come together to help other community organisations in their areas to improve their use of digital technologies. Over the next few months, they’ll be using the new Community How To service – www.communityhowto.com – to introduce these organisers to some of the tools which could help them do more in their local community – things like fundraising, project management, volunteer management, and impact evaluation.

One of our champions, West Harton Action Station in South Shields, has put together a series of workshops and invited along a whole host of community groups. Local people getting involved will include representatives from older people’s action groups, tenant associations, various clubs and women’s groups. The focus of their sessions will be on websites and social media – helping each group build a digital profile that can help them engage both users and potential funders. Volunteers will work with each group after their workshop to create a vibrant, active and most importantly ongoing digital presence.

It’s ironic that it’s the very tiny organisations that are really driving the original ‘big’ society. And it’s among these very small, often self-started groups that digital capabilities are often lowest, and furthest down the to do list. They’re exactly the people and organisations who can benefit most from Community How To, and the tools and experiences shared there by other community groups. They’re also the very hardest people to reach, and to persuade to try something new.

That’s where champions really do come into their own. There isn’t another way to identify these very local groups, to contact them, strike up a conversation about the potential of digital tools, what’s out there, and how it could help them do what they do.

Following Queen’s lyrics, it’s my hope that these champions – like West Harton Action Station – will mean there are far fewer community group ‘losers’ when it comes to technology.

You can follow the champions’ work – and success stories – on Twitter via #communityhowto and at @communityhowto. If you know a local group – or group of groups – who might benefit from Community How To, get in touch with the champions via help@ukonlinecentres.com.

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