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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.

For flexible interactions between you and your users; 1-to-1 and in groups.

What they do

These are a type of online chat where users communicate via an app or internet browser. Users type into a text box and get a response in real time or later. This response can come from a human or a chatbot, or a combination of both.

Multiple users can communicate together in a messenger group, controlled by an admin.

They are often seen as accessible because they use common apps that people are already using.

Messenger services allow users to easily send a range of different file types and multimedia content like emojis and gifs.

Popular platforms

There are a huge number of tools that can be used for messenger services. Nearly all require a mobile device but can also be accessed via a computer’s web browser. Some require a phone number (WhatsApp, Telegram etc) and some are linked to other accounts (Facebook Messenger).

Common tools:

  • SMS
  • WhatsApp
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Telegram
  • Signal
  • Instagram (messaging function)

Things to consider

Opening hours

If you offer a messenger service to your users it is important they know what response time to expect. This means you need to clearly state how often messages will be responded to or offer a chatbot service.  You can usually state response times and other important information in the account bio or profile. Sometimes you can set-up automated responses for set times.

If you use it for group communication it is important you decide how often the admin will check or moderate group messages. You should also agree groundrules for behaviour when moderators are not online.

User Privacy

It is important your users know what personal data is revealed when they use a messenger app. This could be profile information, their phone number or details of other linked accounts. You should seek consent before adding users to a group.

You will need to consider whether you will maintain records of what has been discussed. If you are storing data then users will need to understand your privacy policy. See the section on safety and security for more information.

Staff Privacy

Your staff and volunteers may also use these platforms in their personal life. So it’s important you provide them with work accounts and/or SIM cards or phone numbers to use them professionally. That way they don’t have to use personal accounts for work activities.

User preferences

It is important to find out how your users feel about using different messenger services. They may prefer not to contact your service through them because they use them in their personal life. Or they may actually prefer to use them because they already know how they work so don’t need to learn anything new.

Service remit

It is important that your users are clear about the remit of the messenger service. To offer a high quality experience for your users you should resolve their queries via the chat, or handover to other services if your team cannot help. 

Charities using this tool

Last modified on 26 July 2022
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