Francesco Ruberto – Asociación PROJUVEN

Do you use digital and social media technologies in your daily organisation work?

Yes, I do. The first thing that I do once I wake up is to check my Google Calendar and see my schedule of the day, meetings, planned skype calls and deadlines. Afterwards, I check my inbox e-mails and I respond to all e-mails that I did not answer. So, all my days’ start using digital technologies and with a cup of Italian “espresso” next to my laptop!

In our organisation (Asociación PROJUVEN), I and all other volunteers use Google drive to share folders, save documents and have them always available in any part of the globe.

In addition, when I collaborate with other youth workers/volunteers of foreign organisations, I use Google Drive Docs for peer-editing, namely, working together on the design of a project and be able to edit the project online. The peer-editing online allow us to check the updates and any changes in real time and help to simplify our work and collaboration.

The use of social media tools in our organisation is central and strategic for our mission and long-term objectives. Indeed, just through the use of social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) we can reach our direct target group, namely, youth people. People don’t click on websites but they click on short post with photos, videos and questions that attract their attention and interest and just social media have these features.

Definitely, I can state that my life of youth workers is easier with digital media tools!

Who is a digital Volunteer? What does a digital volunteer need to learn?

Digital volunteers is a person that use all resources and digital technologies that the market offer for the benefit of the organisation which he represents and for realizing social projects.

Basically, a digital volunteer should be “fluent” in using all software, apps and tools which can facilitate and help him/her to deliver a project and realize a social work in his/her local community. A digital volunteer should adapt him/herself to the current challenges of our time and understand that in a world where everything is strictly connected to technology and full digital, not having basic digital skills means not be able to meet the needs of all people for which the own organisation works for.

How digital skills could help a volunteer/NGO employee to better manage a social project?

Definitely, digital skills could support and help a volunteer to deliver a project in time and with a good quality level. Unfortunately, it is well known that many NGO once they got accepted their project proposal and get the grant are not able to manage properly a project. All this situation, arises with projects often incomplete, with negative outcomes and almost no really needs of project target group satisfied. This is due to the fact that no attention, enough resources and time is given by non-profit representatives to the training of own volunteers and personnel. Nowadays, leading and managing a project efficiently means having good project management skills and good digital skills. This last statement, is valid and worthy especially for organisations working for youth, where it is clearly evident that youth spend more time on social media and internet than on the street.

Finally, I can say that an organisation working for youth cannot have youth workers/volunteers with no basic digital skills knowledge otherwise it will missing the organisation mission and losing their own target group.

In your opinion, how are non-profit organisation facing the digital transformation? What can be done more or better?

In any revolution, such as the current digital one, we have always entities that follow it and entities that are not able to recognize it at the due time.  Thus, big non-profits such as Red Cross, Amnesty international, Greenpeace etc. are full digitalised and have internally departments full dedicated in use digital technology for organisation campaigns and for reaching organisation objectives. Consequently, they can train and give guidelines to all their branches around the world. They can do it because they count on high financial resources but small organisation cannot follow their steps.

A small organisation cannot invest budget for training its workers in using digital tool but what a small organisation can do is taking example of the good practice and free technology implemented and ready for use by the big non-profits. In fact, many digital tools very useful for non-profits job are often free licensed and just a click away before the final use. So, what youth workers need to do, it is sometimes very simple, just connect own smartphone or laptop to internet and follow videos tutorial or simply reading and downloading a digital guide or e-learning courses made available for free.

Another path that small non-profits can follow is to apply for EU funded projects which can allow them to have the necessary resources to invest in training their volunteers in the use of digital tools or simply adhere to other projects realized by other organisations and become a stakeholder or user of the project!

I invite all readers of this interview and people interested in acquiring digital skills for running non-profits projects to follow “eSkills for Volunteers “ e-learning courses, which are available for free and open to everybody.