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Charities working in the open

Links to useful real-life design assets and project reflections created by charities and digital partners, funded by Catalyst. For support on how to share work openly, see the open working toolkit.

1625 Independent People

Developing an automated SMS service to help young people feel more informed and autonomous.

AVA - Against Violence and Abuse

Building an online training platform for professionals supporting domestic abuse survivors.

Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE)

Understanding members' use of digital applications.

Age UK

An interactive platform to maximise volunteer involvement in services for older people across the Age UK network.

Age UK Oxfordshire

Creating an online booking system for exercise classes, supported by an integrated database, using off-the-shelf tools.

Alive Activities Ltd

Creating a teleconferencing platform for older people.

Ashford Place

A safe and trusted Digital HUB in Brent, for people living with dementia and their loved ones.

Back Up Trust

Online sessions giving loved ones a way to connect with other family members and to learn more about what is possible for life following a spinal cord injury.

Beats Bus Records

Online DJ workshop: an effective remote solution to interacting with service users.

Blood Cancer UK

Meeting the needs of people with blood cancer from communities that stigmatise cancer.

Bounceback Food CIC

Understanding and improving the cooking & nutrition habits of people living in food poverty.

Brathay Trust

Developing a suite of digital tools for live facilitated sessions that trainers can embed within their programmes.

CHAS Bristol

CancerCare North Lancashire and South Cumbria

Creating a therapeutic Minecraft world for teens affected by cancer and loss to connect with peers, youth workers and therapists.

Caring Together Charity

Running a data review and creating a development roadmap.

Caxton Youth Organisation

Improving communication with users and increasing direct feedback for staff and engagement with session content.

Centre for Fun and Families Ltd

Worry Time: digitising a CBT tool for young people.

Charlton Athletic Community Trust

Greenwich Youth Service: using digital to support young people to socialise and develop.

Chiltern Music Therapy

Prototyping a digital solution to support digital music therapy provision to vulnerable people.

Citizens Advice North East Derbyshire

Redevelopment of the CABmoney website to improve clarity, user experience and accessibility for mobile devices.

Citizens Advice Southampton

Developing a video hub solution, providing advice to vulnerable people.

Collage Arts

A centralised tool and platform that provides content, useful information, ways to collaborate and sign posts to opportunities.

Community Action Hampshire (trading as Action Hampshire)

Meeting users' communication and connection needs and making digital activities and information more accessible.

Community Action:MK

A data collection and intelligence platform for the VCSE sector in Milton Keynes.

  • an overview of the system and components needed to develop the platform.
  • gauging expectations and needs for the platform.

Connect: North Korea

A digital referral and information platform for North Korean refugees.


Helping digitally excluded families with disabled children get access to information and advice.

Council for Learning Outside the Classroom

End Youth Homelessness

Finding a way to accurately and efficiently collect outcome and impact data from member charities.

Enterprising Youth C.I.C

Designing exam stress solutions for pupils and piloting a blended learning experience with our existing users.

Equal Care Co-op

A co-owned digital platform that matches people who need support with those who can provide it, then providing services that allow them to manage their relationship.
  • Progress report on the development of the pilot: achievements, approach, methodolgy (2020, for Nesta).


Developing an interactive game for primary children to learn about healthy relationships.
  • User need statements jamboard. This shows the plan for the definition programme as well as user needs statement, riskiest assumptions to test and a knowledge board from the start of the programme. 
  • User flow miro board. A flowchart designed to help plan the app. The app is designed to act as an interactive story where children aged 9+ can learn about relationships and how to behave in relationships.
  • Prototype - clickable, interactive
  • Video app prototype A video of a paper prototype from the start of the programme, that Equation wanted to turn into a more clickable and interactive prototype to test how users interact with the content and what choices they make. 
  • Playback slide deck

Galloway's Society for the Blind

Tech Ability: a project tackling digital isolation among visually impaired people in Lancashire.

Global Link (Lancaster)

An accessible and easily available resource for newly arrived refugees in Lancaster who do not know where to get started on the many things they need to do.

Home-Start UK

Testing their remote service delivery model with their users.

Inclusion London

Creating ways for staff and volunteers working with deaf and disabled people to create digital media pieces that tell their story.

Intergenerational Music Making (IMM)

A Spoonful of Music: Intergenerational NHS music project for loneliness, wellbeing and connections.

Just Like Us

Prototyping an online resource database and training solution for educators delivering LGBT+ curriculum.

Kent Coast Volunteering

Making the community transport service more digital to free up staff and volunteer time.

Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside Wildlife Trust

An integrated platform to help users interact with their wellbeing service.

Living Well Consortium

A project to improve a user's journey when seeking a mental health therapist on the Consortium's website. As part of their early work at the end of 2020 the Consortium and their partners, The Developer Society, have created these design assets:
  • Big user need statement an overarching user need statement and its evolution across four drafts. Likely they will discover other more granular user needs too.
  • Prospective user journey an initial idea of what they think a better user journey might look like, created before doing user research interviews. This journey is likely to evolve.
  • User flow diagram shows the path a user would take when using their website to request support, receive a pre-therapy interview and book a therapy session.
  • Knowledge board an important early-stage asset, created to get an overview of what they know and where their knowledge gaps are.

London Arts in Health Forum

“The Digital Sandpit” - a space structured for and by members to support one another's digital practice.

London Bubble Theatre Ltd

Speech Bubbles Induction Training - blended learning version aimed at reducing the live induction sessions by 50% and repackaging the other 50% as an asynchronous learning experience.

Moving On Durham

Creating a digital information resource for young people in housing need.

Musiko Musika

Creating an e-learning platform for disadvantaged families with early years children

One Walsall Ltd

Live, quick ICT sessions to improve skills and confidence for not-for-profit groups.

Oxford Hub

Building a web application to manage volunteer-run support programmes in Oxford.

Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Totnes with Bridgetown

Developing a single canon email database to increase efficiency, decrease stress, enable and empower its users.

Pennysmart CIC

Improving user experience SEO and general usefulness of their website.


A platform for charity shops to market and sell their products without having to open to the public.


Digital translation support for refugees.

Refugee Women Connect

Creating a digital event hub where refugee women can access internal and external activities, events and educational resources.

Salford Voluntary and Community Services

Improving our ‘funding finder’ service and bringing together all our funding resources in one place through new functions.

Skills Builder Partnership

Online platform that allows any individual, anywhere to build their skills within Skills Builder's universal framework.
  • App prototype shows mobile experience and has some hotspots set up to support user testing (Content in modules is not open for others to reuse because it belongs to Skills Builder Partnership and falls under a different license).
  • Development board containing: assumptions; understanding the challenge (problem statements, functionality prioritisation matrix, success criteria); understanding our users and their needs (personas); understanding the courses and content (the learning cycle); understanding professional learning (routes into platform); journey mapping; MOSCOW board; road map; epics (including development tickets and examples of how this is communicated to agency).

Stonewall Equality Limited

Improving membership renewals through better information processes and use of new technologies.

TLC College

Greenwich Youth Service: using digital to support young people to socialise and develop.

The Co-operative College

Improving experience of online courses for young people with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism.

The Federation of Groundwork Trusts

A project to improve their online learning service for communities and vulnerable groups.
  • Notion project management site created by Erica Neve, the Trust's digital partner. We like it because it shows what can be achieved using no-code tools.

  • includes a stripped back database structure to make it easier for anyone to use for their own projects. Includes 'backend' databases and a 'client-facing' project page that pulls all the info into a more contextualised form. 'How to' guide to follow.

  • the main project output, a guide to help staff create a blend of live and online learning, making the most of simple digital tools.

  • - blog.

  • Development playback deck

The Margate Bookie

The 'Feedback Machine': an online place for writers to get support with their creative process and be less isolated.

The Matthew Project

Online chat service for children, young people and families affected by drug and alcohol issues.

The Pace Centre

Extending provision to families who need additional support, advice and signposting, whilst reducing the demand for hands on therapy for children.

The Scout Association

Platform that helps volunteers self-assess their digital skills, then matches them to the tools and resources to improve their skills.

The Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS) Foundation UK

The Stroke Association

Creating a centralised digital platform for group volunteers to connect, access information and share resources.

The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside

An integrated platform to help users interact with their wellbeing service.

The Women's Organisation

Creating or adapting a CRM to make a centralised system of client data useful and usable.

Together for Short Lives

Better web information to support families whose children are seriously ill.

Turner Contemporary

A project to engage older people through creative and social learning opportunities, in ways that reduce isolation and digital exclusion. Working with digital partner, Storythings.

Villiers Park Educational Trust

A project workspace and reflection tool designed by students to improve evidencing of project work and skills development.

Voices in Exile

Developing a website that explains what evidence you need for an immigration application, and how to gather and send it to your caseworker.

Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East (VONNE)

Developing a solution to support climate action with the North East VCSE sector.
  •  - link to Medium author.


Defining the need and potential of an online interface focussed on improving user experience of direct payment services registration.

Warrington Youth Club Limited

A digital video platform to support isolated young people.


The WellChild Family Tree Facebook Group: facilitating peer-to-peer support for families with children and young people with exceptional and complex medical needs.

Worcester Cathedral Education Department

Developing a more interactive experience for visitors.

YMCA England & Wales

A digital video platform and content to support young people's mental health needs.

Sector Challenges

Seven challenges across four sectors most affected by COVID-19. Focusing on problems which multiple organisations are working hard to solve.

Each challenge led by a digital partner working with 5-7 charities.

Together running user research and prototyping activities. Seeding solutions that any charity or partnership may take on and grow.

Sector Challenge 1 - Supportive online environments

Tectonic and six charities are testing ways to create supportive online environments for people working with others experiencing mental health crises.

  • what they learnt from research and assumption testing.
  • how to profile your users, how to interview them.
  • - assumptions tested during interviews, and the question they used.
  • -  a list of assumptions tested.

Sector Challenge 2 - Strengthening approached for social prescribing

Lightful and five charity partners are exploring innovation and data sharing for better social prescribing across mental health and wellbeing organisations.
  • Concept sketches concepts, sketches that explore potential solutions.
  • Project canvas exploring desired outcomes, user groups and delivery challenges.

Sector Challenge 3 - Effective online counselling services for survivors

Deepr Design, Neontribe and Promo Cymru and five charity partners are prototyping effective approaches for organisations who are moving online their counselling service for survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
  • How might we statements
  •  blog.
  • designed for counsellors working with those affected by domestic violence and sexual abuse - but useful for all counsellors or therapists providing online sessions.
  • from Nottinghamshire Women's Aid.
  • A comprehensive look back at the project which includes shareable assets.
  • - weekly decks with discussions and introductions to new tech.
  • - short version
  • - retrospective and exploring next steps.
  • for resource sharing platform.
  • - a session to explore insights and ideas with users.
  • - a session to explore insights and ideas with users.
  • for resource sharing platform.
  • - deck explaining the prototype.
  • Usability testing planning guide

Sector Challenge 5 - Reaching digitally excluded families

Dartington Service Design Lab and six charities are exploring solutions that could help digitally excluded families. They are doing this to help all charities working in this area. All learning is being made open.

Sector Challenge 7 - Redefining volunteering

The Developer Society and three charities are rethinking how the volunteering model could work better to help families and support different areas of a family's ecosystem when needed.

Sector Challenge 9 - Claiming universal credit remotely

Dynamic Skillset and four charities are finding ways to ensure parents and carers without easy access to data or devices get the support they need.
  • - blog.
  • - blog.
  • - blog.

Digital partners running group programmes

Blogs, weeknotes and useful tools from agencies helping groups of charities prototype similar solutions to different types of challenges.


Erica Neve

Guidance repositories

Notifications platform


Oxford Code Lab


  • Notion page with problem statements, charities' workspaces (Miro boards) and links to resources they are using.

  • - used to help charities define, design and test content as a service.

  • - from sprint 2.

  • - from sprints 3 and 4.

  • Prototype testing: discussion guide
  • - page includes links to following files: Content design programme kick off deck; Refining needs and opportunities; User needs interview guide; Workshop 2 - Exploring ideas; Workshop 3 - Assumptions & tests.

  • looking back at sprint 2 for all charities in the project group.

  • featuring all organisation in the content design project group.



We Are Open

Templates and illustrations

  • Digital project illustrations - from Bryan Mathers at We Are Open Coop. If you use these please attribute “cc-by-nc-nd Bryan Mathers for We Are Open Co-op”

Creating shared digital service elements for charities

Projects creating tools and functions to perform common digital tasks, that can be used across the sector.

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Open Working Learnings

Insights and learning recorded by OWL.

You'll see more design assets from other projects on this page as our work progresses.

An initiative of Catalyst in collaboration with Third Sector Lab and others, part of the Catalyst and The National Lottery Community Fund COVID-19 Digital Response.