Impact 48 – a learning experience

Impact48 aims to help a charity by having a real impact in just 48 hours. Yet the impact last far longer than that. I’ve been volunteering with Impact48, helping out with social media. I originally got involved because the concept of doing something positive in a single weekend sounded difficult yet fun. I was right but I’ve got so much more out of this experience as well as a challenging and inspiring weekend!

I had a basic grasp of social media when I started out volunteering for Impact48. I used Facebook regularly, had dabbled in Twitter and knew about blogs, although had never written one myself. However, I wanted to do a good job both for our first charity, Music in Hospitals Scotland, and for Impact48. The main goals I was working towards were to promote our pilot weekend with MiHScotland and to help generate interest in Impact48 as an organisation, building a network of followers.

To help guide me through the social media world I was fortunate enough to meet some great people. Dug Campbell, a digital strategy consultant, talked me through the basic and finer points of Twitter. He offered pointers on how to raise awareness, gain more followers and manage various social media platforms under one banner.  His support during my early explorations into Twitter was invaluable. Dug helped me move from using Twitter in a casual, connect with your friends way, to using it in a professional context, network with interested parties to increase dedicated followers. The other key person in guiding me through social media promotion was Alex Robertson, working for Yard Digital. Alex helped me out with strategy and offered more useful tidbits to keep people interested in the build up to our first weekend. He helped me finding interesting articles that our followers might like and offered suggestions to improve my Tweeting. Meeting Dug and Alex opened my eyes to online marketing and strategy and helped push Impact48 forwards.


The weekend itself was a blast. It was great to meet and work alongside everyone on the team and see what they came up with. I had the odd position of almost being on the outside looking in. I was reporting on the weekend, writing the blog, tweeting, posting pictures and generally letting the outside world feel like part of our little team. Whilst I got to contribute ideas I was mainly observing others and reporting on it. Despite this outsider’s position I still felt like a valued team member and had a great time over the weekend.

One of the most important things I learnt from my experience with Impact48 was not to be afraid to make mistakes. Social media is about finding and expressing your voice and I have tried to do that for Impact48. All the experiences I had culminated in a promotional video I made to try and give a feel for how an Impact48 weekend might go. A mix of video, photos and quotes from the weekend, hopefully it sums up everything Impact48 is about.

Volunteering with Impact48 had given me a greater understanding of social media and a new love for the way you can share ideas across a wide audience. I am incredibly grateful to Barry, Impact48’s creator, for giving me the chance to be part of the team and the responsibility of guiding Impact48 online through their first challenge weekend. I have learnt a lot, meet some wonderful people and enjoyed the experience.

Our first weekend with Ezone Software and Music in Hospitals Scotland was a great success. The next step is another weekend, and to make it as successful as the first. Don’t lose interest – Imapct48 will be back; sign up to our newsletter to find out more and for chances to be involved.

MiH weekend: Sunday and Judging

Sunday opened with 7 hours to go until we had to get back to The Bonham for judging. Some very tired but raring to go team members arrived at Yard Digital ready to do battle.

Long into the night before our team had worked – especially trying to find a way to link JustGiving to the Music in Hospitals Scotland website so a ‘Gift a Concert’ counter could be developed, along with a Concert counter. Unfortunately Sunday morning saw the end to this idea. It was simply not possible to do this within 48 hours and it was a sad goodbye to one of the team’s key ideas for the challenge. Yet all was not lost! The team developed a backup idea that originated on Friday. A YouTube channel was created and linked to the MiHScotland site, where people could search for songs and upload them, saying why they meant something personal to them. With this idea being finished off just as we had to leave, and the button/ widget supporters badge developed as well as strategy worked on it was time for judging.

At The Bonham there were three judges – Stuart from Ezone; Alison, Chief Executive of MiHScotland and an external judge, Peter Taylor of the Townhouse Group, owners of The Bonham. Every one sat down and Barry from Impact48 guided us through what the team had produced in 48 hours.


Strategy was covered first as this had been some ongoing advice the MiH team had received over the weekend. Some long term strategy was delivered by Ruaridh from TickTock Media about how to build and develop campaigns, using social media to be most effective and in particular a good system for launching the new changes the weekend was bringing about. Both representatives of MiH found this really useful and felt it would make a real difference to the way things were done in the office.

Some more tangible real impact was the work done on to the website to make it more accessible and drive more traffic towards it. The social media buttons were moved to make them more prominent, important for a younger demographic and there were navigational changes, including renaming headings, to make it easier to move around the site and incorporate the new concepts.  A lot of work was also carried out on content review, focussing on meta tags and secondary navigation, making these more prominent and adding them to the homepage to help Google optimise searches. This all means that people are more likely to come across MiH when searching for things like ‘music charity Scotland’ and also people will be directed to the part of the site they want if using a more specific search, rather than having to click through the site to find the right information. The final addition was a mailing list sign up button added to every page of the website, rather than just having it on one page, which will hopefully encourage more people to get involved. Feedback was very positive from the judges, saying how useful it sounds and that it would be easily supportable.

The second concept of the weekend, replacing the ‘Gift a Concert ‘ idea was ‘Dedicate a Song’, a page for people to share music that has some importance to them. This was done via MiH’s YouTube channel. The team liked this idea as they felt in engaged with supporters, especially a younger audience, without costing anything – it was something that anyone could be involved in. It also could provide marketing content for MiH without them having to sit and think of anything – every day a particular song or story could be selected to be Tweeted about (for example) – instant content that give people a reason to follow MiH and get involved. The YouTube channel would automatically create a playlist that people could listen to and it would be easy to add in information about MiH every so often to keep people engaged with the charity. It is important to note that this concept was developed in keeping with the restrictions of the challenge – MiH retains full control of the content, it would not appear on their site unless it has been authorised. However, the judges had reservations about this idea, not seeing how it directly links to what the charity actually does. Alison, Chief Executive of MiHScotland, said it felt like a “parallel thing” and that it “would need some thought”. The response to the reservations centred around using it as something to start conversations, to engage with a younger audience, but the result was nice idea, needs some thought before we can progress.

The final thing the team developed over the weekend, and the most successful in terms of REAL IMPACT, was the badge developed for supporters. This was a concept thought of on Friday night and was carried the whole way through. An “I support Music in Hospitals Scotland” button was created that people could put on their websites, as was a supporter’s widget that had quotes from people involved in MiH which changed every time the page was reloaded, making it a bit more interactive. Three different buttons/ widgets were developed to cover individual supporters, groups or business and musicians who worked for the charity. The final category had a restriction placed on it, where MiH had to authorise use of the coding needed for the button/widget so only those who had successfully auditioned could proudly declare themselves an MiH musician. A bonus of the button is that people have to supply a name and email when they want to get the button/widget so it adds to a supporters list. It also gets the brand name out there, helping increase awareness as well as providing more links to the site (thus improving search results in search engines). The judges loved this idea – it is easy to support and should have a real impact.


Overall, the weekend was a great success. Music in Hospitals Scotland where amazed at what the team had achieved in just 48 hours. The fresh eyes of the team had been “invaluable” and they had “learnt so much”. Thanks was given to, not only our wonderful supporters: The Bonham, Innis and Gunn and Yard Digital, but also to Impact48, Ezone and the entire team for all their efforts and hard work. Real impact had been achieved, all in exactly 48 hours (judging finished at 6:28pm)!

MiH weekend: Saturday

Saturday was a long day for our challenge team, working with Ezone and Music in Hospitals Scotland. Our team were arriving from 9am and worked late into the evening, the final people departing after 11pm!


This day was when we were at our full strength, with 10 people of different skills contributing to the task. The morning started with a summary of our key goals for the weekend and everybody got down to business. One team worked on developing a ‘supporters badge’ widget for people to put on their website proudly declaring themselves supporters of MiHScotland. This included Sarah and Jonathan from Creative State, marketing and design experts, and Chelsey from Attacat a web developer who worked on the coding. The second team was Barry from Ezone and Vladimirs from Escrivo who were busy working on code, trying to get to talk to the Music in Hospitals site so we could develop a donation counter. The final team was Alex from Yard Digital and Iain from Ezone working to improve the MiH website, inputting meta data to help improve search results on Google and make the whole site more accessible and easier to find. Sarah and Laura from MiH were running between the teams providing information and opinions and then spent a large chunk of the day editing content for the website.


After a much needed lunch break, with pizzas kindly provided by Bar Roma in Edinburgh’s West End, it was time for a regroup and see what progress people had made. Things were going well – the badge widget had been done and they were now developing the concert counter and donation counter widgets. Website overhaul was looking good and it seemed there was time to think more about some small, but helpful steps that will aid MiH, giving them time saving techniques.

However, it was not all blue skies and clear sailing. Barry and Vladimirs were struggling with the JustGiving API. They just couldn’t get it to connect with the MiH site. It was a valiant battle to try and get a solution but to no avail. Defeat was finally admitted and the idea of a donation counter had to be let go. It was a sad moment for the team as this was one of our key ideas for the weekend but with only 48 hours to work in there just wasn’t time to get everything sorted and working properly. The whole point of the weekend is to produce something of REAL impact – not some half-finished, not working properly concept.


So positives and negatives were taken away late on Saturday night, with the team persevering until gone 11pm. Sunday looked to be a long day, minus most of our design team. Stay tuned to find out how the day, and the Judging, goes. Follow us on Twitter @RealImpact48 or via #impact48 or on Facebook for live updates.

MiH challenge weekend: Friday night

Friday night and our first hack challenge weekend has begun! At The Bonham Hotel, Edinburgh our Impact48 team gathered along with other supporters, beer (kindly provided by Innis and Gunn) was drunk and we officially started the weekend.

We started with some short presentations. Barry from Impact48 introduced their goals and thanked all our wonderful sponsors, The Bonham, Innis and Gunn and Yard Digital.

Ezone is the supporting company for this weekend and Iain gave a brief overview of what they do before handing over to Music in Hospitals Scotland.

This was the moment everyone had been waiting for – to hear about the charity and what they wanted from the weekend. Alison, Chief Executive, introduced MiHScotland and a brief overview of the challenge. Sarah, sponsorship and marketing, spoke a bit more about the concerts themselves and Laura, fundraising coordinator, spoke about the effect live music has on people.

Barry presenting

The challenge was then laid out:

  • To seek a means of raising MiH’s online profile to a younger demographic
  • To devise a means of prompting small – even tiny – donations on a large scale


  • MiH is bound by a strict code regarding privacy issues: ie no use can be made of any image on or offline without express written permission
  • MiH must retain control of any mechanism or device and have the capacity to remove it if necessary

The floor was then opened to questions and the poor MiH team came under fire as people wanted to know information such as what events do MiH already do to raise awareness, what are their targets, what existing methods do they have to reach out to the younger demographic. Ideas quickly followed and after a group discussion (naturally forming a circle – how nice!) we had a break and broke down into two groups to discuss more in-depth ideas.


The first group identified that lots of bands and musicians have their own following, normally amongst younger people, and they wanted to tap into this. It was felt that a new brand or campaign, under the existing title of Make Music Happen, would be beneficial to reach out to a younger audience. Some of the ideas were to have a YouTube channel that people could submit videos to or a sort of PostSecret Music list where people could showcase pieces of music that had an emotive effect for them.  They thought they could use MiH’s existing supporter base to help moderate the music, voting for them etc. Lots of focus was put into how to CONNECT younger people to MiH with the theory that once people are engaged, donations will follow.

The other group had a different dynamic and went in a different direction. They looked more at how to get lots of small donations. Ideas such as video sharing via sites like and using a QI code to link people to the MiH site were discussed. Also looked at an existing MiH tool  – the “Perfect Present”  where people can give a donation of a minimum £150 to have a concert for a specific person – and how this could be adapted into a more widespread fundraising appeal. There was the idea of “Gift a Concert” where people could donate towards the full cost of a concert (£247). There are restraints involved with the MiH charter so the group came up with the idea of running a separate campaign “Make Music Happen”. Interesting to see the same idea come up in both groups separately, although with very different aims.  Intense discussion happened in both groups as people began to buy into their ideas and develop them.


It was time to draw the groups together before they went down completely separate roads. A list of all the different ideas was drawn up and we started to narrow them down based on the restrictions laid out by MiH and Ezone. The idea of musicians and amateurs performing was taken off on ground of quality control. People liked the “Gift a Concert” idea and a couple of widgets were discussed. One, to count the number of concerts that MiH gives each year, maybe represented on a map. Another idea was a badge people could put on their websites, especially musicians, that declared themselves supporters of MiH that linked to the website. Finally the idea of a “Gift a Concert” counter where people could see how much was needed to make the cost of a concert and how many concerts direct donations had bought was discussed.

These were the main ideas put forward for going ahead with over the weekend and it was a tired, but excited team that finally departed The Bonham at 11:30pm!

Stay tuned to find out what happens over Saturday and Sunday and how the Judging goes! For live information follow us on Twitter @RealImpact48 or #impact48 or on Facebook.

Ezone Software


Our fabulous sponsor for this weekend is Ezone software, a web software company that focuses on services to the Hospitality industry. They have many clients in other areas as well. However, recently there has been a shift to become the go to company for Hotel Web Support.

The co-founder of Ezone, Barry, set up Impact 48 and volunteered Ezone as the first sponsor, as they are always keen to support charities. They try and take every opportunity to have a positive impact on the environment and those around us. They have already worked alongside our charity for this weekend, Music in Hospitals Scotland. In 2009 they helped them start using WMS to manage the content on their website. Last year they helped redesign the Music in Hospitals Scotland site as the old one was beginning to show its age. The goal was to create a visually appealing website, maintaining the functionality of the old one whilst introducing new features such as a blog. I think we can all agree they have done a great job:

So who is more perfect than Ezone to work alongside Music in Hospitals Scotland for A third time, this time achieving their goals in just 48 hours?! Ezone have no business ambitions to gain from the weekend, only personally they like to collaborate and work towards having an impact on a charity.

Follow us on Twitter @RealImpact48 or on the #impact48. We are also on Facebook and will be updating the blog as the challenge weekend progresses.

Challenge weekend 12th – 14th April: Music in Hospitals Scotland

Our first challenge weekend is nearly upon us. What can we expect? Nobody knows but hopefully our team will produce something that causes REAL IMPACT for Music in Hospitals Scotland, our wonderful charity. They’re looking for something along the web/ social media techie side of things so we’ve got a great team of designers, developers and marketing strategists lined up to take on the challenge. Here is what they can expect from the weekend: 

FRIDAY 12th April 6:30pm – 8:30pm: The Bonham Hotel, Edinburgh

Meet and greet and presentation time. This is the first time the team will be together along with Music in Hospitals, a few of our sponsors and other supporters. There will be various presentations giving information about the challenge and a chance to ask questions. Everyone will get the chance to know each other and bounce ideas around.

FRIDAY 12th April 8:30pm onwards: Still at The Bonham Hotel, Edinburgh

Time for some brainstorming and getting an action plan nailed down for the weekend. This is the first chance for the team to sit down together and start to build up an idea of what they are planning on doing and how they are going to implement their plan. I’m sure it will be a bit crazy with lots of ideas all over the place, but very exciting and rewarding too.

SATURDAY 13th April 10am onwards: Yard Digital, Edinburgh

Yard Digital has kindly offered us their office space for the weekend, acting as team HQ. As we recognise that people are generally quite busy and kindly giving us their time and expertise for free, there will be a free flowing feel to the day with comings and goings from team members. Over the day the team will be working on developing their ideas into something that will (hopefully) have real impact.

SUNDAY 13th April 10am – 4pm: Yard Digital, Edinburgh

Time to finish up, polish those edges and prepare for judging. This will be a day of working hard to get concepts finished and in place.

SUNDAY 13th April 4pm onwards: The Bonham Hotel, Edinburgh

It’s back to The Bonham for judging time. Here the team will present what they have achieved over the weekend and a panel of judges will assess the results. This will include how feasible it is, use to the charity and whether Ezone are able to support whatever the team comes up with. A verdict will be reached and the team can celebrate their success (we very much hope, fingers crossed)! Something with REAL IMPACT that will benefit a worthy charity, Music in Hospitals Scotland, achieved in 48 hours.

For live updates of how the team are getting on follow us on Twitter @RealImpact48. We are also using #impact48 and may need some help with ideas and questions so please feel free to chip in with your experience even if you couldn’t attend this weekend. All feedback is useful! We will also be on Facebook and there will be updates on this blog with progress of how the weekend is progressing.

Getting involved: Vladimirs Surajevs

One of the final team members for our challenge weekend this coming weekend (12th – 14th April) is Vladimirs Surajevs. This is what he thinks will happen:

1) Why do you want to be involved in Impact48?

The idea to bring some people together for doing something together is great by itself, especially if it is beneficial for the community. So I could not stand apart and miss that great opportunity to bring something nice in that world. Besides I like different kind of challenges and especially that feeling which comes after you reached your goal, so I think Impact48 is right thing for that.

2) What do you perceive your role to be over the weekend and what are you hoping to bring to the challenge?

Over the weekend I will act as web developer, so I will take a part in direct web application development.

3) What are you expecting?

As a result, I expect a small but useful and qualitative web application that could help Music in Hospitals in achieving their goals to make happy even more people who really need it.

4) What do you hope to gain from the weekend?

I hope I get a lot of pleasure from communicating and working with people who want to improve the world. Also any professional experience would be highly appreciated.

COMING UP: Find out about Ezone Software, our lovely sponsor for the weekend, as well as a plan for the weekend ahead.

Getting involved: Sarah Robertson

Impact48 weekends bring in a wide range of people. Although each weekend will require some sort of specialised skill set depending on what the charity involved is aiming for, there is always room for people from different backgrounds. Sarah Robertson (no relation to team member Alex Robertson!)  is coming in with creative design and project management skills to help whip our team of techies into shape and keep them on track!  Why does she want to be involved? Read on to find out.

Why do you want to be involved in Impact48? 

Working on a meaningful project that supports a great cause appeals to me. I also like a challenge. Concept to completion within 48 hours is no mean feat!

What do you perceive your role to be over the weekend and what are you hoping to bring to the challenge?

I’m hoping to bring an eye for detail and a head for research to the team.

What are you expecting?

A fun and collaborative time. Making a valuable contribution is just the start!

What do you hope to gain from the weekend?

A few friends, a few laughs and a few more pounds.

Any other fun facts you think would be interesting and helpful!

I put my research skills to good use today. The first ever Hackathon took place 15 years ago.

Only two days left until our first hack challenge weekend! Stay tuned for final team members and the ups and downs of the weekend. Follow on Twitter and Facebook for live action!

Getting involved: Chelsey Fenn

Chelsey Fenn is another volunteer making up the team for our first challenge weekend. Working for Attacat in web  development, word on the street is she is also a bit of a dancer. Hopefully we will get to see both skill sets this weekend! This is what she is expecting from the weekend:

Why do you want to be involved in Impact48?

It’s a great idea – using a brief period of time to collaborate and produce something really useful to a charity! 

What do you perceive your role to be over the weekend and what are you hoping to bring to the challenge?

I hope to bring my technical knowledge to the challenge. I’ve just begun my career as a web developer and am thrilled for the opportunity to put some of my skills to good use.

What are you expecting over the weekend?

A fun time of shared work and effort, of meeting new people, and of measurable results that (hopefully) makes an impact.

What do you hope to gain from the weekend?

Hopefully I’ll come away from the Impact48 weekend with some practical experience and some new relationships.

Stay tuned to meet the rest of the team and follow their exploits on Twitter and Facebook as the weekend progresses.