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Digital tools to help with your work

Digital tools to help with your work

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Digital tools can help you manage your work and your organisation. There are loads of tools available. Use this guide to help you find the best solutions for you

9 Platforms to help you meet and collaborate

  1. Microsoft Teams is a free business communication platform. It offers workspace chat, videoconferencing, file storage, and whiteboard collaboration. Teams is replacing other Microsoft-operated business messaging and collaboration platforms, including Skype for Business and Microsoft Classroom
  2. Slack is a communication platform which offers many real time chat features, including persistent chat rooms (channels) organized by topic, private groups, and direct messaging. Good for getting lots of different people to contribute to themed discussions
  3. Google suite has a range of collaboration tools available for meetings, chat, project management, calendar, email, slides, document sharing, whiteboard collaboration (Jam board) and spreadsheets. Most are available to use free, though they want money for some functions
  4. Zoom provides simplified video conferencing and messaging across any device. It is very popular across the world and rapidly became the go-to technology for meetings and conferences in 2020. It’s free for basic meetings but you will need to pay for an account for longer meetings with more people
  5. WhatsApp is used by almost all Wales Africa groups, it’s a freeware, cross-platform messaging and voice-over-internet service owned by Facebook. It allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media
  6. IMO is popular in large parts of Africa, an instant calling and messaging app similar to WhatsApp with audio and video calls, instant messaging, group chats, document and file sharing
  7. Teamwork is on online project management tool which allows users to collaborate on developing projects, viewing timelines and allocating tasks. There is a free version for small projects
  8. Evernote is a flexible free application that can be used online and offline and is available on PC, Mac, Android and iPhone/iPad (IOS). Uses include project management, task management, contact lists, stakeholder information, planning training content, mentoring notes, sharing resources, research notes, or keeping track of events and participants
  9. Asana is a free tool allows you to create a project plan and a range of tasks that can be assigned to members of your team. After each task has been completed, it can be checked off, which gives you a clear viewpoint about the way your project is progressing, and the way each team member is contributing to the success of the project. Team members are also free to attach files and leave comments.

What’s best? 

  • For text-based chat: WhatsApp or IMO
  • For video meetings: Zoom or Microsoft Teams 
  • For project management: Teamwork or Evernote 
  • For discussion groups: Slack or WhatsApp 
  • For file storing and sharing: Microsoft Teams or Google Docs

Some simple training, teaching and tutorials could be delivered using meeting, messaging and collaboration tools. 

For lots of learners undertaking more complex courses it could help to use a digital learning platform. These enable students to actively engage with educational content through sharing documents, video, lectures and tutorials. Educators use digital learning platforms as part of their instruction to make learning more interesting and interactive for students and to offer lessons that can be personalized for each learner.

5 Affordable Learning Management Systems for Small Organisations 

  1. BrainCert is an all-in-one training platform that enables organisations to conduct custom training online such as delivering self-paced blended courses, certification exams, video conferencing and real-time collaboration using integrated virtual classroom. It has free starter accounts and advanced accounts are affordable
  2. Moodle is a free online Learning Management System, providing educators around the world with an open source solution for eLearning that is scalable, customisable and secure with the largest selection of activities available
  3. Panopto provides lecture recording, screencasting, video streaming, and video content management software, which is often used in E-learning environments. It allows you to centrally manage your recorded lectures, additional classroom videos. Panopto is all about the video. It has free basic accounts and affordable pro accounts
  4. Google Classroom is a free web service developed by Google for schools that aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments. The primary purpose of Google Classroom is to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students. It is estimated between 40 to 100 million users use Google Classroom
  5. Learning@Wales is a national Elearning platform managed by the Digital Learning Wales Team. The Digital Learning Wales team is also responsible for the development and management of national NHS Elearning courses for Wales. NGOs in Wales can add content to make courses available online

There are lots of tools available to help you log and manage information. 

If you are gathering and processing information about people there are ethical and legal issues you should be aware of. We now have more ways to collect, store, share, transmit, analyse and publish data than ever before. Responsible Data Management is about treating data with respect, and upholding the rights of people whose data we hold. Responsible Data Management focuses on treating people’s information with respect and dignity, and ensuring that we always act in their best interests. 

3 Helpful Resources on Responsible Data Use 

1. Responsible Data Management.  

Training pack from Oxfam for humanitarian organizations on managing programme data according to best practice. 

Responsible Data Management Training Pack – Oxfam
2. Responsible Data Resource List 

This list of resources (formerly known as the “Responsible Data Hackpad) is curated and maintained by MERL Tech and The Engine Room. 

Responsible Data Resource List – MERL Tech & The Engine Room
3. The Gendersec Curriculum 

A resource that introduces a holistic, feminist perspective to privacy and digital security training.

The Gendersec Curriculum
 

Monitoring and Evaluation  

There are many excellent guides and toolkits online which introduce you to Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). While they are all useful, most work on the assumption that you already have a pretty good grasp of M&E. 

The 1-2-3 toolkit assumes that you may be starting from scratch or that you really need a refresher. It simplifies the terminology and offers worked examples. Above all, it suggests a three-step approach, the 1-2-3 Method.

The M&E Universe is a free, online resource developed by INTRAC to support development practitioners with monitoring and evaluation (M&E). It’s a series of short papers on relevant topics. It can be accessed through an online platform (intrac.org/universe) that is compatible with most web browsers.

With the challenges of escalating climate change and global pandemics, being able to monitor projects at a distance and effectively manage the opportunities and limitations is essential. This handy guide for civil society highlights how to work with your partners to make it a success.

Tools to help with data collection  

KoBoToolbox is a free suite of tools for field data collection for use in challenging environments. The software is free and open-source. Most of its users are people working in humanitarian crises, as well as aid professionals and researchers working in developing countries. It’s free and you can input data offline.

Rukovoditel is a free web-based open-source project management application. Its customization options allow users to create additional entities, modify and specify the relationship between them, and generate the necessary reports. The platform enables users to craft their own application that is specifically tailored for their activity. A free version is available. Add-ons cost extra. 

Salesforce is used by charities who have to deal with lots of data from many partners or projects. Salesforce is a customer relationship management solution that brings companies and customers together. It’s one integrated Customer Relationship Management platform that can give everyone in your organisation a single, shared view of every partner. Prices start at £20/month. 

Open Data Kit lets you build powerful offline forms to collect the data you need wherever it is. Use either the mobile app or the web app. Forms and submissions are synced when a connection is found. There is a paid-for version which comes with guidance and support. There are also open-source ODK tools available free. The ODK-X community produces free and open-source software for collecting, managing, and using data in resource-constrained environments.

Paid-for tools
Open source tools

Epicollect5 is a mobile & web application for free and easy data collection. It provides both the web and mobile application for the generation of forms (questionnaires) and freely hosted project websites for data collection. Data are collected (including GPS and media) using multiple devices and all data can be viewed on a central server (via map, tables and charts). 

Teamscope is a secure and easy-to-use data collection platform, specially designed for sensitive data and clinical research. Teamscope allows researchers to create powerful mobile forms, collect data both qualitative and quantitative data offline and visualize it with a few clicks. It has affordable plans and effective offline information gathering. 

REDCap is a secure electronic data capture (EDC) solution (web, smartphone, tablet and iPad) for building electronic case report forms and managing databases. The app enables data collection in places with slow or no internet. Non-profit organisations can join the REDcap consortium and receive a free license of the software 

Magpi is a mobile data recording app that allows users to create mobile forms both on and offline within minutes. Its use extends through the health, agriculture, environment and industry sectors, where rapid and low-cost conduction of mobile surveys enables scalable and straightforward research. It has free basic accounts and allows offline data entry. 

Jotforms mobile allows users to collect various types of data, such as voice recordings, barcodes, geolocations and electronic signatures and then build, view, access, sort, fill out, share, and organise all this data in a single place. It has free basic accounts and allows offline data entry. 

Publishing to IATI 

Many NGOs need to publish aid data in accordance with the IATI standard but, particularly for small organisations, this can be overly-technical and complicated. Fortunately, AidStream lets you sidestep the fiddly XML data by filling out a form instead, which it then converts into the correct code.

File Sharing 

WeTransfer is an internet-based computer file transfer service. A free account lets you send files up to 2GB. An affordable pro account allows you to send up to 20GB.

MailBigFile is a quick way to send up to 5 files of 2GB per file to 1 person at a time for free. You drag the file(s) into the box on the website and specify the recipient and your message to them. They receive the message and a download link for the file. 

Hightail also allows the sending of a file using an email link. You have to register for the free account. You can send files of up to 250Mb to multiple recipients. Hightail has integration with Microsoft Outlook and also has a folder storage and sharing solution similar to Dropbox. 

Get support with digital communications 

Google Ad Grants offer eligible NGOs free advertising space on Google, allowing you to strategically display your charity’s chosen message to people who are actively searching for NGOs. Any UK-based registered charity can receive around £8,000 in AdWords advertising every month for free.

Photo Gathering 

Flickr is used by lots of organisations to get their photos online – check out DFID, EU ECHO and UN Women for starters. Many but not all of the images are free to use under creative commons, so make sure to check the license. 

4 sources of royalty-free images 

  1. pexels.com
  2. unsplash.com
  3. pixabay.com
  4. freeimages.com

Graphic Design

3 Free Tools to Help with Graphics 

Canva is an easy tool for creating graphics, and it’s all drag-and-drop so you don’t need any technical skills. It’s particularly helpful for social media, but it could also be used for event invitations, website icons or infographics. Even better, charities can have the premium version for free.

Pablo’s free for charities, and its stock images, text boxes, and content sizing are perfect those looking to immediately upload to social media. Pablo has over 600,000 images to choose from, or charities can upload their own. Once selected, images can be layered with text and customised by size for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Adobe Spark is an online tool for quickly creating engaging graphics with a range of features and inbuilt photos. With a range of templates from social media posts to flyers, non- designers can make professional looking graphics in minutes.

Build your own website 

You don’t need to pay someone to design your website. If you want something simple you can do it yourself. 

4 free and easy website builders 

Blogger, from Google, is an easy way to set up a blog based website. You do not need any web design skills and it’s free to use. 

Wix is easy to use and good for small websites where good design is important. Free packages are available.

Weebly is very easy to use and can handle larger websites. They have free options and other affordable packages. Particularly good if you are selling things.

Webnode one of the best cheap options for developing multilingual websites. One of the most globally used website builders, especially among European users. Not good if you want to sell things. Free packages available.

Social media 

Social media is free and easy to use and where a lot of your audience is already.  

Learn more about social media for charities.

5 Social Media Platforms you should consider 

Facebook. Popular across the UK and Africa, lots of your contacts will already be on Facebook. You can easily set up a page to promote your work and get volunteers or donations.

Twitter is good for advocacy, getting your message amplified by others, as well as networking with people and organisations around the world. 

Instagram could be the platform for you if you have great photos to share of your work. Instagram can help build engagement and drive traffic to your website.

LinkedIn is useful for building and maintaining networks of professional contacts. 

YouTube is the place to show off great videos of your work.

Community Management 

Mobilize offers an easy way to manage your relationships and get people to take action. It shouldn’t replace your email newsletter but it could be a better way to work with your most dedicated supporters. There’s a free version, as well as a limited grants programme.

Conducting Surveys 

3 Free Tools for Online Surveys 

SmartSurvey is a digital survey solution that helps anyone create surveys, build questionnaires and analyse the results.

Google Forms can be used to design online forms which save data to the Google spreadsheet app Sheets.

Survey Monkey is a very popular and sophisticated online survey tool and many institutions use it. However, if you are only using the free plan it limits you substantially.

Keeping members and supporters informed 

MailChimp is one of the most frequently used applications to send out bulk email communications or e-newsletters. It starts free but can get expensive as you get more contacts, though they do discounts for charities. 

Sendgrid is another bulk emailer which has free accounts for small mailings, though you can do more with paid functions. 

SendX is an easy to use, affordable, and feature-rich platform for sending mass emails. It’s a drag-and-drop editor that makes creating emails very easy and fast. 

The benefits of new digital tools are not shared equally around the world or within countries. It’s important to learn about how the use of technology can make inequality and exclusion worse. 

6 Important Perspectives on Digital Tools 

The Principles for Digital Development nine living guidelines that are designed to help integrate best practices into technology-enabled programs. They include guidance for every phase of the project life cycle, and they are part of an ongoing effort among development practitioners to share knowledge and support continuous learning.

The Digital Divide is Not Binary – the Five A’s of Technology Access. Understanding more about the true nature of the unconnected, the least connected, and the poorly connected is essential for those wishing to make digital citizenship inclusive of disadvantaged communities. 

Feminist Principles of the Internet – a series of statements that offer a gender and sexual rights lens on critical internet-related rights.

Do’s and Don’ts for using Digital Tools in the Covid-19 response – Learning from the ICT4D field.

Tactical Tech – an international NGO which engages with citizens and civil-society organisations to explore and mitigate the impacts of technology on society.

The Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) – advances digital inclusion to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), so that all women, men and children can benefit from life-enhancing, mobile-based digital services.

4 Ways to Get Support and Advice on Digital Issues 

Reddit’s discussion groups will let you post questions and get advice from experts and practitioners. 

Hub Cymru Africa has a Slack workspace on working digitally for discussion with people working in the sector in Wales. To join this workspace, get in touch with us on advice@hubcymruafrica.org.uk.

THET – Technology for Effective Partnership Collaboration is an excellent overview of how to use digital tools when running international health partnerships but has lessons for other projects.

Digital Candle is a free service for charities who want a one hour call with a digital expert. Charities can get advice on any aspect of digital or digital marketing, from digital strategy to Google Ads and from remote service delivery to social media.

Online Fundraising Platforms 

Online fundraising platforms allow you to present and promote your fundraising campaigns, collect money and monitor your progress.

Check out a comparison here.

5 of the most popular online fundraising platforms: 

Just Giving was one of the first platforms for fundraising online and remains one of the largest. It currently has 22 million users worldwide. UK charities pay a monthly subscription fee and then a percentage of donations.

Virgin Money Giving is a non-profit platform created by Virgin Money to help charities raise more money online. So far, they have helped 18,000 UK charities and 890,000 fundraisers to raise more than £685 Million.

CAF Donate was built by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). It allows users to can create online donation forms and buttons and easily add them to websites, emails and Facebook pages. You’ll first need to sign up for CAF’s reporting tool, CAF Charity Dashboard, but then you get access to in-depth reports about your campaigns, donors and donations. 

The Good Exchange is a non-profit bringing projects requiring funding to those with grants to give via transparent automated matching with corporate foundations, businesses and individuals. Each project can also receive public donations.

GoFundMe has partnered with PayPal Giving Fund to deliver funds. Donations are processed by PayPal and GoFundMe before being sent to the PayPal Giving Fund – a non-profit organisation which collects and distributes them to the chosen charity. All charities registered with the Charity Commission in the UK are listed in GoFundMe’s charity directory and funds are passed automatically to the charity by PayPal Giving Fund. 

4 places to find grant funding online: 

Grant Funding Resources from Hub Cymru Africa.

Grant Funding Opportunities from Hub Cymru Africa.

International Development Funding opportunities from BOND.

UK Government International Development Funding Search.

Abstract:

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted and accentuated the need for Wales-based international solidarity groups to make use of emerging technologies when working with partners overseas. Hub Cymru Africa commissioned this research to facilitate the best use of digital tools within the community. This paper identifies good practices as well as opportunities and challenges for groups and funders alike.

REPORT | Use of Digital Tools in the Wales Africa Community