Sources of free help and advice. Structured by speed of access and depth of support offered.

Over the last five weeks, thousands of charities have been reaching out for support because they’ve suddenly needed to go more digital. The sector has been full of articles and guides. It’s great that we can respond like this.

But what if you need more support than another article or toolkit? Or you don’t know where to find the advice you need? Or what if you’re not even sure what it is you should be asking about? What if you’re worried that you don’t know where to start?

Help is here. We’ve checked out the best places to go for free digital support and advice, from people who understand charities.

We’re not talking more articles or training courses (let Google be your friend there). We’re talking about places you can talk to someone, get tailored advice, or be guided through an experiential process, with support on hand.

You might want a quick spot of advice before the end of the day.

You might want some in-depth advice from an expert.

You might want someone to walk with you through a problem solving process for a bigger challenge.

Here’s where to go. Nearly all are free:

The quick option

For quick advice from over 1,600 charity folk, go to Digital Charities Slack. Sign up is easy and it’ll help you get jiggy with your remote working skills too. You can ask about literally any charity digital subject or use the group’s search function. You’re likely to get multiple responses within a few hours.

Alternatives: Send out an ask on Twitter. Catalyst Support pages. Or reach out to your existing networks.

In-depth and tailored

For in-depth advice from an expert, matched to your challenge, go to Digital Candle. You submit a request, get introduced to one of 170 experts then arrange a 1hr call. You can ask about any charity digital subject. Usually it takes a few days to arrange a call, but if it’s urgent you can say so in your request and the Candle team will try to help.

If after your call you still need more help then you can just submit another request. Or you could try #CrisisConnections, a similar free service set-up as a direct COVID-19 response.

Alternatives: SCVO’s Q&As next on April 23rd 4pm, Bobi’s Digital Q&A for Charities (monthly), Coffee Connections. Third Sector Geeks.

Deep, structured and supported

If you’re wrestling with a service delivery challenge, or trying to work out what type of online help your users need, or how they might access it, then Online Design Hops will guide you through the process from start to finish. Part self-study, part social learning, the Hop can be done in a day or over a few. The difference from training courses is that Hops are experiential. So by the end of your Hop you’ll have moved forward with your challenge and learnt about digital service design. Sign up here.

Alternatives: Catalyst Digital Teams (for organisations that identify as an anchor organisation, infrastructure body or federated charity or organisations that support, connect or coordinate a network). Dovetail for help to hire a service designer or agency. (Dovetail is free — the agency itself will not be)

Start somewhere

One important message, though, is not to get stuck on which of these services you use. If you’re unsure which is best, or exactly what kind of help you need, please start somewhere. Reach out to any of these sources, and if they’re not quite right, then hopefully they can help you find someone who is. There’s a whole network of free help out there, and everyone wants to get you to the right place. You’re not alone.

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Support & services

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