It’s my last day in the US today and I’ve been bowled over by the friendship and positivity of the Americans I’ve met. The libraries, community centres, and various intermediary organisations I’ve been talking with are as committed as we are to great, local and relevant digital inclusion support. And we’re all struggling with working out how to use our precious human resource for maximum impact and helping as many people as we can to benefit from the web.
One thing I’ve been talking about is the ‘network effect’ of working collaboratively. For my day job that means working with 5,000 UK online centres and access points – having a shared vision of a better connected society, a clear voice to policy makers and corporate partners, and a great platform, Learn My Way, for data collection and evidencing our outcomes and impact. I blogged a few weeks ago about the Network Webinar I led where I got the chance to talk to UK online centres staff about their perceived value of the network (“the best bits”), the societal issues they have to deal with, and how we can find better solutions by working together. That is what I mean by the ‘network effect’: realising greater impact by having a shared goal and by working together to achieve it.
I got great feedback following my SHLB presentation yesterday on “Measuring the impact of digital inclusion at scale”. You can see the slides here. There are lots of very familiar stories at this conference, of exceptional local people giving time and patience to help those lacking the confidence and capability to use the web, and of people whose lives have been transformed with new confidence and self-worth, as well as jobs, friendship and fulfillment. In my session I talked about how do we measure the outcomes of this amazing work and how do we value this transformation, the impact. One way Tinder Foundation do this is with data and surveys – we do the math. Our surveys show that 84,280 people have moved from no job to having a job in the past four years via UK online centres; we know that the saving to the UK Government of someone getting a job is at least £8,000 per person per year; that’s a £678m saving to the UK Government (over $1bn in American). And that’s not mentioning the £232.4m saved in people moving from face-to-face and telephone contacts with Government to online services, or the £137m added to the UK economy by 132,440 people starting volunteering in their communities.
Helping Roger to move from 10 years of homelessness to volunteering in a UK online centre (in a hostel) to a job to a promotion (a better job) where he is helping other homeless people to get an education and get employment, is a miracle.
Turning a c. £35m investment in a digital literacy programme (not a work or employment programme) into a saving of £678m ($1.115bn) “just” by helping 84,280 people into work is a miracle too … and one that we can measure.