Case studies > Skills sharing > Digital engagement strategy

Girls Friendly Society match with Unicef UK

Girls Friendly Society

Established in 1875 Girls Friendly Society (GFS) is one of the oldest UK registered charities working to support girls and young women by providing opportunities for developing confidence, self-esteem, emotional well-being, resilience and enjoyment.

The digital challenge for small charities

Paul Rompani, the Executive Director of GFS outlined the problems previously faced by the charity when trying to keep up with digital innovation:

Girls Friendly Society logo

As an organisation established in 1875, we have a strong history of working with girls and young women, but our approach to communicating and engaging with our stakeholders was outdated and we had some anxieties about how to introduce a digital approach. We had just started to use Facebook and Twitter, but didn’t understand the whole range of digital tools available to us and the myriad ways in which they could help us raise our profile and expand our reach.closing speech marks

Unicef UK got in touch with Small Charities Coalition looking for the opportunity to work with a small charity to help develop their digital strategy. The Unicef UK digital engagement team explained their motivations for this opportunity in the following way:

unicef logo

The digital team at Unicef UK were looking for an opportunity to help them develop their consultancy skills, something that is integral to their internal roles. At the same time, the team wanted to be doing this in a way that gave something back to the community or smaller charities. And it was an ideal opportunity for a team building exercise which would help us appreciate each other's skills better.closing speech marks

The Match

Paul from GFS explained how excited they were to have the opportunity to work with Unicef UK:

We were notified of the opportunity offered by Unicef UK via the Small Charities Coalition. We jumped at the chance to be matched with a high profile and significantly more experienced charity that could help us develop a digital strategy.closing speech marks

GFS were introduced to the digital engagement team at Unicef UK and the match then got underway:

We were matched with the Unicef UK digital engagement team, who pooled their capacity and resources to consult GFS staff about how we work as an organisation and in what ways digital technology could benefit us, both in our interactions with our stakeholders and internally.closing speech marks

The Unicef UK team went on to explain the steps they took to create a digital strategy unique to GFS:

The match involved initial scoping discussions with GFS so that the expected outcomes were clearly understood and the plan of approach was agreed by both organisations. Following this, a range of interviews were undertaken with key stakeholders within GFS in order to gain an understanding of their current capabilities, confidence, knowledge and objectives within the digital sphere. Combining this insight with the in-house digital expertise, Unicef UK designed a digital strategy which was presented to the GFS staff on the 21st June 2016.closing speech marks

The Result

Both parties described the presentation and Q & A session to explain the new strategy as an essential part of the outcome. Unicef UK outlined the following impact on their team from this workshop:

This was an absolute highlight for the digital team – a chance for them to showcase their recommendations and also to share the positive impression this match has had on them. It was also a great opportunity to meet all the staff from GFS; there were some really interesting conversations being had over lunch and personal relationships that flourished.closing speech marks

Paul explained how GFS now plans to implement the new digital strategy going forward:

Girls Friendly Society and Unicef

In the space of two short months, we were presented with a comprehensive digital strategy, full of recommendations tailored to our organisation and backed up with the benefit of the combined experience and expertise of the Unicef UK team. This fortuitously coincided with us recruiting our new Marketing and Communications Manager, and therefore we were able to present her with a thoroughly researched framework for implementing a digital approach at GFS.closing speech marks

The digital team also went on to detail the skills they developed from this match:

The initiative gained a life of its own – for the managers at Unicef UK, it was really fantastic to see how quickly and easily the digital team were able to build rapport and hold some really engaged conversations with GFS but equally with each other over aspects of this initiative.

The match provided the opportunity for Unicef UK’s digital engagement team to develop their consultancy skills and experience, particularly around, understanding of consultancy process (start-to-end), practising the skill of presenting and insight into the role strategy plays in reflecting the broader organisational goals and objectives.closing speech marks

Future Plans

Girls Friendly Society

Paul informed us that although the initial work carried out together has finished, the relationships they have built across teams will continue and they plan to keep Unicef UK updated on their progress in implementing the strategy. The digital team also added how much they appreciated this opportunity and are keen to offer ongoing support and input for GFS as and when required.

Both are exploring new opportunities to link up through introductions made to colleagues in other Unicef UK departments, with the hope of working in partnership again in the future.

When asked whether they would recommend this service, the Unicef UK team concluded in the following way:

Unicef UK are so grateful for the support and engagement received from Small Charities Coalition throughout the duration of this initiative. Their can-do attitude and helpful approach to finding the most appropriate match whilst still maintaining a conscientious awareness of their member’s interests speaks to their absolute professionalism. We would highly recommend this skills matching service to other charities, in fact, to everyone.closing speech marks

Match still ongoing.


If your organisation is interested in supporting a small charity in a similar way, please email [email protected] 

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