The Edinburgh Cyrenians Weekend: 48 Hours And A New Journey Begun

The dust has settled on another Impact48 weekend. The volunteers have dispersed (and hopefully recovered), the presentations are over and the hard work is done. Let us look back on what was achieved over the weekend and what will hopefully remain for The Cyrenians long after.
The Impact48 weekend was all about creating something that was complete and real; something the charity could take advantage of immediately. The team had decided on three areas to pursue. These were:
  • The online finance reporting project
  • The “Give in Kind” social enterprise development
  • A project to achieve quick but important wins on the current website

So after 48 hours, a round of pastries, 4 pizzas, 2 crates of beer, 4 loaves of homemade bread, 4 batches of delicious soup, 6 bags of crisps, (some) fruit, a whirlwind of tweets, a whole lot of coffee and more cake than we care to remember, what impacts were made?

The “Give in Kind” social enterprise development

The challenge for the volunteers was to facilitate the development of the “Give In Kind” social enterprise by providing a basic functional webpage/site and a system which would enable the posting of requests for unwanted items as well as the transaction of these goods between a private individual and recipient registered with the charity.

  • Design: Our designer Scott Burns was able to work up a brand, iconography and full website design in a (long!) day. Scott had to work fast in order to give the developers the most amount of time possible to work on the functionality. The charity desired a standalone brand that still fitted with their existing main brand. See his awesome designs here!
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Our web designers extraordinaire deep in concentration

  • Development: The developers job was to build out the “Give In Kind” social enterprise site and to try to tie all the functionality together in a ridiculously short amount of time. The functionality of the website had a lot of moving parts and this wasn’t really a project anyone could finish in a weekend. However our team astounded us with how remarkably far they had gotten for the past 48 hours and on very little sleep too!
  • Marketing: Jennifer Tough & Kathryn from the Cyrenians worked together on a 3 phase marketing plan including online and offline activities, as well as the Give in Kind elevator pitch. For this they worked up a Prezi to capture the concept of the social enterprise in a visual and engaging way. Jennifer also set up a blog for “Give in Kind” over the weekend, which meant that Kathryn could start blogging about the project’s progress straight way!

Check out the Prezi!

  • Knowledge shared: Although amazing progress was made with the “Give in Kind” site we wanted to make sure that we provided The Cyrenians with something which would allow them to test the feasibility of the social enterprise project right away. Therefore Karen spent some time showing Kathryn from The Cyrenians some existing online tools, such as Basecamp, which could be use to help with the project’s feasibility study at an eariler stage.

Online Finance/Impact Reporting Project

The challenge was to increase the success of and awareness raised by the online Financial and Impact reports by the addition of new formats and interactive elements. All charities have to produce an Impact report and can struggle to present that information. Improving these online reports was identified as vital in furthering the Edinburgh Cyrenians cause as these reports contain valuable information at a detail not presented anywhere else on the website.

Development: Barry developed a micro site specifically created to host and display these reports. The micro site was designed to fit with The Cyrenians brand and allowed more flexibility in presenting the new reporting style and format.

Design: An infographic was created using easel.ly and was designed to capture the vast array of services offered by The Cyrenians in one image – not an easy task! This infographic was created as the centerpiece of the new micro site’s homepage to help visitors better understand all that The Cyrenians do.

Microsite-Infographic

Knowledge Shared: Karen also identified other infographic tools which were free and could be used by Phil at Cyrenians to better communicate the valuable information from the Edinburgh Cyrenians’ accounts. Data was taken from the two annual reports, the Financial Accounts and “Impact” report and transformed into something new and exciting! Check out a sneak peak below.

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See the full micro site here!

Improvements to the current website

In addition to the two bigger projects being undertaken over the weekend the team identified quick, but important wins to be had on The Cyrenians current website. A few tweaks made were:

  • Embedding The Cyrenians’ twitter feed onto their homepage – to increase social engagement and increase the chance of that all important “follow.”
  • Displaying a link to the new micro site and Impact and Account reports on the homepage – to get more people exposed to and reading the hard facts and numbers which emphasise just how valuable and important The Cyrenians are in the work they do.

Knowledge, Information & Insight Share

There were little (but important) ripples of impact over weekend too! A major theme in the feedback gained from the Impact48 weekend with Music in Hospitals was the importance of the knowledge shared over the weekend. So this time around we made sure the information sharing and learning aspect for The Cyrenians was a focus. It was a rare opportunity for The Cyrenians to have a diverse and skilled group of people in one room and valuable knowledge on tap. Over the weekend we made sure they had the chance to take advantage of all sorts of advice, insight and information shared by the volunteers. Aside the various tools and technical knowledge passed on, The Cyrenians also received tips on communication, email marketing and social media. And it wasn’t only the Cyrenians who benefited from this either, information and expertise was passed from volunteer to volunteer too!

The Presentations

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So at around 6pm on Sunday, the tools were downed and the beers were cracked open in anticipation for the evening’s presentations and judging. The guests and judges began to gather in the Attacat office. Two of our very special guest were The Cyrenians CEO Carol-Anne Alcorn and Peter Taylor OBE, one of Scotland’s most respected and celebrated successes in the hospitality and tourism industry. No pressure team!

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Cyrenians’ Phil Reilly presented the new micro site designed for their accounts over the weekend.

Peter Taylor seemed very impressed with the micro site homepage stating “A picture tells a thousand words.” 

While Cyrenians CEO Carol-Anne said of the micro site’s homepage “It works to answer one of our biggest questions, what do the Cyrenians do?”

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Scott reveals his Give in Kind web design.

The guests and judges were absolutely delighted with the result of Scott’s design work. Scott received a tremendous amount of praise, with guests and volunteers tweeting about his work – and his colleagues at IfLooksCouldKill and those at ConfBuzz couldn’t help but take notice.

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They were also visibly astounded by the speed and genius of the development team’s work. The phrase “in awe” was actually used when considering what the developers and designers  had achieved for the charity in a very short amount of time.

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Impact48 participants presenting the weekend’s work

A new journey begun

What an incredible weekend! It was clear to see the passion of the individuals behind The Cyrenians and this weekend’s outcomes have been designed to be easy for current and future staff and volunteers to take forward. We just can’t wait to see how the impacts made over the weekend will develop. We can’t wait to see the “Give in Kind” social enterprise take off and what impacts will be made from injecting some life into their annual reports! Perhaps another shot at a COFRA (Charity Online Financial Reporting Award.)

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And the impact doesn’t end there! Jeff Chang had said he hopes to “keep helping out with the project if the Cyrenians decide to continue and expand “Give in Kind” over the year to come.” It is safe to say that The Cyrenians would be all the better for having his genius (and seriously amazing work ethic) on board! And we are sure he is not alone.

Time can only tell how big the ripples of impact made will grow. These impacts may not take the form we envisioned and we may have made impacts we didn’t realise we had, but we have hopefully helped The Cyrenians take a step in the direction they want to travel. We hoped to address important issues the charity was interested in tackling but didn’t have the resource to do so. What will come from the weekend’s impact in the future we can’t tell but what we can know now is that we managed to bring a variety of ideas and skill together and set the ball rolling for these projects to grow and develop in the way The Cyrenians want them to. In the 48 hours we had to work with The Cyrenians, they managed give back to the team more than they probably realise. They inspired us with their hope and compassion. The Impact48 weekend was our way of contributing, however small, to the kindness and goodness that Cyrenians spread. We hope you keep on inspiring.

We just want to say a huge thank you to all the amazing people involved and to all who made The Cyrenians Impact48 weekend possible.

Until next time!

If you would like to find out more or volunteer for our next weekend please get in touch with us! Email at admin@impact48.org and sign up to our newsletter.

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