Sharing learning through blogging
Blogging can be a great tool for both funders and projects looking to record impact in more creative ways. In this guest post, Marcus Hulme explains how projects reaching out to vulnerable older people in England have been encouraged to digitally document the ups and downs of their projects – learning a raft of digital skills along the way.
When we developed our Silver Dreams programme in England we decided that we wanted to pilot some new approaches to improve our service to customers. This included having an online application form, providing capacity building support to projects and using blogging to report impact.
The Silver Dreams programme has funded 37 pilot projects to test out creative ways to help vulnerable older people deal with transitions in their lives. Projects received funding of up to £200k to test out activities over 12 to 18 months.
Up to five pilot projects will receive a larger grant of up to £1 million each to scale up or replicate their idea. Activities delivered mainly focus on advocacy, peer befriending, skills sharing and older people volunteering to support each other in their communities.
We introduced blogging as a new tool for reporting by projects as we wanted to support them to openly share learning about the difference they were making in communities.
This could help projects to share good practice with one another but also provide rich information for other organisations working with older people so that they can learn about the impact of the novel approaches funded through the programme.
The concept of blogging was new for many of the organisations we funded so we provided specialist training to support them which was positively received. Many projects have embraced the concept of blogging and to date over 550 blog posts have been published, with an average of 15 posts per project. Projects also felt that this new approach led to reduced time filling in forms for funders and increased transparency between organisations to share learning.
For us at the Big Lottery Fund, reporting through blogs has helped us think about how we might open up our data and evaluations so that others can better understand where our funding goes and also help build potential connections between people and projects. The evidence from the blogs is also providing valuable learning to inform our own future policy around ageing.
Using blogs has led to many benefits such as enabling better connections to be developed between projects, providing more opportunities to share best practice, raising the profile of projects with local and national organisations, building networks and developing the skills of staff and volunteers.
The blogs from projects are available here: http://silverdreamsblog.wordpress.com/
Marcus Hulme is Senior Policy and Learning Officer at the Big Lottery Fund
What do you think about this approach to reporting project impact?
Does your project regularly blog about its activities and the people benefiting from the work you do? Leave you comments below or join the conversation on Twitter using #biglf.