Over the last few months VONNE and the other members of the VONNE Climate Action Alliance (VCAA) have been working hard to engage and discuss with others in the North East VCSE sector about how we can create and support a movement of organisations to tackle climate action by:
- increasing their knowledge and understanding of the topic
- supporting them to make organisational changes and,
- supporting them to develop climate action activities in and through their work.
This work has been supported through the Catalyst and National Lottery Community Fund Covid-19 Digital Programme. Through the Discovery and Definition programmes earlier in the year, we explored and articulated the problem we're setting out to address, carried out lots of user research with organisations, built a prototype website and carried out testing and conversations on some tools we could develop to support the sector. Most organisations we spoke to said they need help to start to take their first steps to address the climate emergencym and want to learn more about the issue and how they could or should respond.
In July, we were successful in receiving funding and support through the Development phase of the programme. This enabled us to work alongside digital and design partner SIDE Labs and communications agency di:ga communications to co-develop and design a web-based engagement and action tool, Going Green Together. The website enables and encourages organisations to find and take their first steps in a variety of topic areas: office, travel, energy, food, engagement and waste. It also encourages organisations to share and inspire others with the actions they have taken. Di:ga Communications worked with us to develop a communications and engagement strategy, to not only promote the new website but to continue to build our network to create a real movement of change in the sector.
Sharing our experience
The journey of working with SIDE Labs and di:ga communications to create the Going Green Together website and communications and engagement strategy over the last 10 weeks has been collaborative, engaging and informative. We created a theory of change, researched lots of existing websites, tools and resources, developed a new brand name and image identity and used lots of easy no-code tools to piece together all the tech we needed for various components of the website and communications and engagement activities. These include Webflow for the website, Meetup for our events, Medium for our news and Revue for our newsletter. We also used other digital tools like Slack for team communications and sharing, Miro (collaborative whiteboard) for project development documentation and sharing, and Google Docs and Sheets for working together.
We've discovered that investing in an expensive, bespoke, all-singing all-dancing website with the integrated functionality for all these things isn't always necessary and that a low-code approach, using and reusing existing tools, can be an easier and cheaper alternative. This approach is especially useful for initiatives like Going Green Together and the VONNE Climate Action Alliance, which are at an early stage of their development and don't have vast financial resources at their disposal.
Throughout the project we've been working in the open and you can read Georgia's weekly notes charting our progress on Medium. You're also welcome to explore the project Miro board, which features a lot of our work, our research, how the design concepts developed and the process from wire framing to complete website build.
Your feedback is important to us. Let us know what you think of the new site by dropping us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now the hard work really begins...After 10 intense weeks we've co-developed the Going Green Together website and the communications and engagement strategy, and they are looking great. Now we need to action the strategy to promote the website and continue to build our network of engaged VCSE organisations and support them to take their first steps into climate action.
We also want to share what we've developed far and wide, with other infrastructure organisations, funders and others as an example of how to provide the VCSE sector with practical support to address the climate emergency. We would love other VCSE infrastructure organisations to re-use the platform to support their members with climate action. So our next phase of digital learning is going to be all about re-use; with a host of new jargon to understand... 'cloning', 'white labelling', 'open source' etc. Luckily we have the CAST/Catalyst teams to help and support us with this, as to be honest, we haven't a clue!
For the VONNE Climate Action Alliance, the first iteration of the Going Green Together website is also just the beginning. We've got a long wish-list of other things that we'd love to add and implement to the site. However, we've learnt a lot about design thinking in recent weeks through the Catalyst programmes. We know we need to pause where we are, test and trial what we have developed with users, see what needs to be improved and then iterate, prototype and test again.
Beyond digital tools, the VCAA have developed plans and are currently seeking funding for a wider programme of support for VCSE organisations wishing to develop their climate action further. This programme, which we hope to launch in early 2022, will include events, workshops and training sessions, the development of resources and toolkits, subsidised access to the Investors in the Environment framework and SmartCarbon carbon calculator and seed funding for climate action projects. Watch this space!
Join our Going Green Together network so we can keep you up to date about these developments, funding opportunities and events. We can help you learn, take your first steps in climate action, and share your successes with the community to help inspire others. Connect with us and others by joining our network:
- Visit our website at Home - Going Green Together
- Meet, learn and connect through our Meetup group
- Get updates to your inbox by signing up for our newsletter
- Subscribe to the blog
- Drop us a line to give us your feedback on the site at email@example.com.