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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

The Digital Participation Charter Fund is back!

The Digital Participation Charter Fund was first launched 9 years ago in October 2014, but back then we called it the Challenge Fund. The Challenge Fund set out to support organisations that work closely with local communities to “digitising content, building digital networks or improving the digital skills of their members in order that they might continue to thrive in the digital world.”

What’s changed?

The last few years have demonstrated the importance of digital inclusion. From the global pandemic to the cost-of-living crisis, digital inclusion has a huge role to play in helping to tackle inequalities. It can be an equaliser in reducing social isolation and maximising economic prospects if everyone has the access they need. We know from Lloyds Consumer Digital Index 2022 that 15% of people don’t have Foundation Digital Skills.

Now in its ninth round, the Digital Participation Charter Fund is seeking to support more organisations to embed digital upskilling in core service delivery. The aims of the Fund are to use digital upskilling to reduce social isolation and increase economic prospects. But what does this look like in practice? That’s up to you, and what works best for the people you support. Examples of activities might include helping people learn how to use social media, using messaging apps, video calling, connecting to community activities, pursuing learning opportunities, supporting people to apply for and manage benefits online or using price comparison sites. 

What does ‘embedding’ mean?

Embedding digital means that projects still do the same amazing work they always do, but they think about how digital could be used as an enabler. For example, if you run community cooking classes you could use YouTube to follow recipes, building digital skills and confidence along the way. Or perhaps you do financial inclusion work. You may want to think about online budgeting tools or a demo online banking app, like this one from RBS (other apps are available!)    

We’ve learned a lot from the previous 8 rounds of the Digital Participation Charter Fund. A few key takeaways for anyone thinking of apply this year:

  • Consider motivation barriers. Some people may not see the use of digital in their lives, but we often don’t know what we don’t know.
  • Find the ‘hook’ – something of personal interest to support someone to get online.
  • Keep the support informal, in small groups or on a one-to-one basis. Every learner has different needs and a different journey.
  • Short bursts of activity – it’s easy to get overwhelmed when we learn new things. Take it slow and keep the digital support to under 60 minutes at a time.
  • Have fun! We often see digital as a burden and something we need to use for all sorts of life admin and forget about how it can be used for our hobbies and interests. People are more likely to engage if they’re having fun.

You can find out more about what previously funded organisations got up to in our most recent evaluation of the Digital Participation Charter Fund, Rounds 4 – 7 (Evaluated by The Lines Between). 

What’s the Digital Participation Charter?

All organisations applying to this Fund must be signatories of the Digital Participation Charter. Charter signatories are part of a movement of over 700 organisations committed to improving digital inclusion in Scotland. The Charter has 5 key pledges, and it is underpinned by Essential Digital Skills. You can sign up and make your pledges here.

The Digital Participation Charter Fund is administered by SCVO, and Round 9 is delivered in partnership with Fund sponsors Scottish Government and Cellnex UK. The fund launched on 3rd October and will close for applications at noon on 3rd November 2023.

Find out more and apply to the Digital Participation Charter Fund.

“The Digital Citizen Division in Scottish Government is delighted to be working in partnership with SCVO and Cellnex UK to deliver funding to improve digital inclusion.  It is so important in today’s society that “No One is Left Behind”, and this is particularly important when considering the benefits of being online in financial and wellbeing terms.  This fund, along with others supported through the Connecting Scotland programme, seeks to improve digital outcomes for the people of Scotland.”

Eilidh McLaughlin, Head of Digital Citizen Unit, Scottish Government

"We are delighted to continue partnering with the SCVO to tackle digital inequality across Scotland. The Digital Participation Charter Fund supports organisations that do incredibly important work to promote digital inclusion in our local communities - together, we can work to ensure that everyone has the digital skills, resources and access that they need to live and thrive in society."

Peter Hayne, National Town Planning and Community Relations Manager at Cellnex UK

Last modified on 3 October 2023