AccessEd #2 – The Lay of the Land

Publishing our Annual Plan, reflections on contributions to the capacity building consultation so far, some Salesforce musings and a tentative sketch of the social investment research landscape...

So two weeks has flown by, and there’s plenty to share. Firstly, as trailed in my last post, we’ve polished up our Annual Plan for 15-16 to a mirror shine, and deemed it fit for your viewing pleasure – you can inspect it here.  We’re not expecting that it will be a viral sensation, but if you are inclined to read it, we’d certainly be interested in any questions it raises for you: feel free to get in touch.

As for the consultation on our capacity building programme, the 16 submissions we’ve had so far through our google form, are a great start – many thanks to all of you who’ve taken the time to share your thoughts. I’m particularly pleased that 8 of these responders have come from social sector organisations, as it’s really important for us to hear from those who’ll be on “the receiving end” of our programmes.  You can see all of the responses here: I hope they inspire (provoke?) you to join in and add your perspective. Thank you too to the tweeters amongst you – the #accesscapacity stream shows a number of you have been publicising our efforts, it’s really helpful that you’re all spreading the word.

I’ve also been having numerous meetings and calls with the interested and informed, which have been a great way to get the lay of the land, and the challenges and opportunities it contains. In no particular order: Impetus-PEF,  NPC, CDF, SIB, Locality, UnLtd, CFG, NCVO, NESTA, Global Giving, Local Giving, Visceral Business, DataKind, Vonne, Seebohm Hill, Acevo, Bridges Ventures, Point People, Talent Match Staffordshire, Social Value UK and Social Finance. And, naturally, Big Society Capital, Big Lottery Fund and Cabinet Office (who have, sycophancy aside, been really helpful and supportive). To keep track, I’ve added all of these organisations to a tab on the responses sheet, and I’ll keep it up to date as I go on.

Lists like this – and keeping track of things in general – is a seamless segue into Salesforce (SF). SF is a commercial CRM company:  as a registered Charity, we qualify for the SF Foundation programme, which offers 10 free licenses for their software. We’ve got this set up, and I’ll be embarking on putting together the first version of a system for Access next week: luckily, I’ll be able to draw on Big Society Capital’s experience of using SF, and the splendid efforts of Anna de Pulford, who built the Dulverton App (there’ll be more on this in future posts).

Off the back of this, she has also brought together an SF user-group for UK grant-makers, which I joined this week. It had all I want in a meeting: people enthusiastically pointing at screenshots, URLs and bits of code, tentative questions from the floor answered without disappearing into techie jargon, encouragement and support to free your team from knots of spreadsheets, even a discussion of the benefits and challenges of data migration. As an organisation with a specific commitment to being data-driven, it was a practical and inspiring way to spend a morning, and great preparation for getting started on our own system.

And so, as advertised in my last post, to research: true to form, I’ve made a list in a google doc. I’ll be honest, I’ve not got through much of the list as yet. Most of the documents have been suggested to me during the many conversations I’ve been having, along with really helpful caveats, questions and aspirations for what research we and others could most usefully pursue. I’ve booked out time to get through this lot in late August/September (along with anything else you think I’ve missed – let me know!), and will develop some gentle opinions to share in a post on 11th September. For now I think it best – as it so often is – to follow Lisa Simpson’s advice.

I’ll be off enjoying the Green Man festival in a fortnight’s time, so my next post will be on the 28th August – you can look forward to more on salesforce and details of our plans for consultation activities in September. In the meantime, may August treat you well…