Expert freelancers can add innovation, value and efficiency to charities’ in-house operations in a raft of areas, from social media marketing to measuring impact
Sometimes, all organisations have to admit they can’t do everything themselves and need a helping hand.
This is particularly the case for charities in improving their digital capabilities.
Luckily for charities, there are a number of out of house experts that can be brought on board. This includes hiring freelancers or tapping into the free support on offer from pro-bono specialists and partnerships. There is also a range of tools and platforms to help, offering access to outside support to assist charities to be more efficient and improve their operations.
Tapping into the skills of expert freelancers can be particularly advantageous as charities look to cut costs due to a loss of income amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means operating on a shoestring budget for some and, sadly, widespread in-house redundancies for others. To ensure charities are still innovating, particularly with digital, hiring freelancers can be an effective solution to the financial challenges ahead. For example, they don’t require holiday pay, sick leave or pension contributions compared to in-house staff.
Cancer Research is among those to consider turning to out of house resources more frequently amid the pandemic.
In July 2020 the charity announced plans to cut its workforce by 500 to meet a £300m drop in income caused by the outbreak. It says there will be a greater focus on “investing strategically for the future while contracting in other areas amidst continued financial uncertainty”.
Here we will take a look at some of the best resources and tools for supporting charities using out of house resources.
The Media Trust has created a useful volunteer platform that connects media and creative industry professionals looking to volunteer their skills and charities looking for communications, media and digital support.
This is already proving popular with charities. At the time of writing, there were 132 opportunities posted by charities looking for outside help.
This includes youth gambling charity GamCare-Big Deal, which is looking for support to help it create content for TikTok. This is a specialist area of social media and digital marketing that the charity has noted that it needs extra support in.
Another is the Galapagos Conservative Trust, which is looking for outside help to create its first impact report, having previously produced annual reviews.
The charity DataKind links up charities and good causes with data science and social sector experts to help develop data projects that address humanitarian problems and advance data science. The charities involved get access to data and artificial intelligence skills outside their organisation. Meanwhile, the specialists involved benefit from supporting good causes and helping their own professional growth. This has seen 250 projects completed globally, including in the UK, involving more than 18,000 volunteers.
Among those to be supported is Citizen’s Advice. Through the partnership, a Civic Dashboard tool was created which mines data from Citizen’s Advice consultations to help it understand emerging social issues in the UK. This helps the charity to better identify and react to changes in society and how they affecting people.
Charities looking for outside digital help can access a free hour of advice from an expert through Digital Candle, an initiative by consultancy Platypus Digital and supported by digital partnership Catalyst. Types of issues it supports charities with include remote working and collaboration, pivoting services online, setting up Google Ad Grants and improving digital support for community action.
Human rights charity Birthrights is among those to access Digital Candle’s service. It’s Chief Executive Angela Style was supported by Beehive’s Head of Creative Ben Serbutt to move its training programme online.
Just had an incredibly useful & though-provoking hour with @benserbutt frm @fatbeehive talking through shifting @birthrightsorg training prog online. Thank you Ben and Digital Candle - such a quick turnaround from my ask to getting loads of doable ideas & answers to my questions t.co/MQ9xKI6wYI— Angela Style (@angelacstyle)
Just had an incredibly useful & though-provoking hour with @benserbutt frm @fatbeehive talking through shifting @birthrightsorg training prog online. Thank you Ben and Digital Candle - such a quick turnaround from my ask to getting loads of doable ideas & answers to my questions https://t.co/MQ9xKI6wYI— Angela Style (@angelacstyle) June 26, 2020
Freelance platform People Per Hour offer organisations fixed price offers for work across a range of issues from freelancers. They can either be hired hourly or by the project. To buy help charities can post a project to the platform, which uses artificial intelligence to match the work with the best available freelancers. Each can then respond with their own proposals. This involves paying a deposit and then paying when the work is completed.
There are a number of freelance charity specialists using the site from governance consultants to marketing directors.
Another platform where charities can source outside help is Fiverr, which organizes payment to the freelancer hired when the work is completed. Work it provides covers areas such as logo design, website development and charity or campaign video production. All are areas of specialist expertise that charities may not have access to in house.
Voluntary sector communications organisation Charity Comms has a freelance directory to help charities hire charity communication specialists that best fit their needs. This offers category and location filters to hone down searches. For example, if searching for marketing freelancers in the South West a search using this function will flag up experts with experience in marketing with charities such as Save the Children, MacMillan, Home-Start UK and the Alzheimer’s Society.