A small Neath Valley-based community learning centre and charity believes bucking the trend and adopting digital technology has been the key to its survival.
Glynneath Training Centre, which provides support, education, learning, and volunteering opportunities to help upskill people in the local community, is experiencing an increased demand for its services thanks to the changes it has made.
Digital has played a key role
And its learning coordinator Malcolm Scott, believes its approach to digital has played a key role in not just surviving, but thriving in a challenging third sector.
Social media marketing and changes to the website has increased enquiries, while implementing cloud-based CRM and email systems has enabled the training centre to work more efficiently.
Glynneath Training Centre’s increased use of digital goes against the grain compared to other charities across the UK. According to the Lloyds Bank Business Digital Index 2017, one in three charities don’t see being online as relevant to them, and 52 per cent don’t have basic digital skills.
Malcolm said: “The centre offers an invaluable service to the people of Neath Valley and we recognised we needed to adapt and be open to new ideas if we wanted that to continue.
Social media has allowed us to broaden our reach
“We attended a Superfast Business Wales workshop and had a follow-up 1-2-1 with an adviser for bespoke advice. We were encouraged and supported to take action immediately and it’s making a huge difference.
“For example, we dipped our toe in the water with social media historically, but after the workshop and advice we set up a new Facebook page and followed the guidance to ensure our activity was effective and we have increased enquiries. In addition, we made the website more user friendly, which is causing more people to get in touch.
“Social media has saved us thousands of pounds on printing and distributing leaflets, which was a huge cost for us. It’s also allowed us to broaden our reach and target new markets in ways we’ve never been able to before.
We also send out a quarterly newsletter by MailChimp and we can look at the stats to see that it’s being read.
Communication has greatly improved
“One of Superfast Business Wales’ other recommendations was utilising a cloud-based CRM system, as well as Office 365 and SharePoint for emails and file storage, to allow staff to access information remotely. Communications within our organisation, have greatly improved, as a direct result of integrating this software within our operations.”
Glynneath Training Centre, which employs 18, was originally set up during the miners’ strike in 1984 to provide women with the opportunity to gain new skills for employment. The centre, which now provides a wide range of training opportunities for all, relies mainly on grant funding, as well as its own fundraising activity. The centre is aiming to develop its room rental offering in a bid to increase the charity’s income.
Malcolm added: “We are working closely with local education providers such as Swansea University, Open University, and colleges who run sessions here. It will also become a focus on social media and in our newsletter to encourage businesses in the area to consider using our facilities for client meetings, conferences, and team building exercises.”