Digital Volunteering

Aside from my day to day role as Operations Manager at Realise I volunteer for the Edinburgh branch of Macmillan Cancer Support.  Just this year two close friends and a family member have been affected by cancer, fortunately all are expected to make a good recovery over time.  Finding an opportunity to volunteer isn't too hard and a quick search will bring up a number of opportunities near you. I've previously volunteered at The British Heart Foundation using my under-utilised knowledge of music and film to increase entertainment sales in Scotland’s most successful BHF store.  I met a bunch of inspiring and very focused individuals when there and this inspired me to look again for 2013 to see if I could help out locally.  Edinburgh Macmillan Cancer Support have an annual Art Exhibition and Sale which is now in it’s 11th year and a bit of an institution.  The challenge this year has been to refresh the event, led by a talented new Curator, and spread the word even further by expanding their communications team (this is where I come in).  This year’s exhibition has been influenced by the Scottish Government’s ‘Year Of Natural Scotland 2013’ and has the subtitle ‘Art Of Nature’.  I’ll admit I know little about art so this year has been very illuminating!

The event is run by a team of volunteers who give up their time and email capacity to recruit and communicate with artists, promote and manage the event, and make sure the infrastructure (from securing a venue to securing picture hooks)  is in place.  As part of our communications we’ve been making increasing use of digital media channels to get our message out there and have been active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Kiltr as well as with a new website (sadly not designed by Realise!) using Wordpress and a collaborative effort between members of the team and anyone we know who have the skills to make it sing (luckily I have a head start here with our team of talented developers). Anyone working within the arts will know the claims that the arts and digital don’t often mix well but this year’s event is proof that that isn’t the case with artists generously giving their permission for us to use their work in promotion online as well as contributing works to the sale itself.

It’s been a great learning curve and I’m looking forward to seeing the event through and making 2013 an even more successful year bringing much needed funds to the charity – funds that will be spent locally providing practical, medical and financial support as well as pushing for better cancer care.  Text EMAS47 £2/£5/£10 to 70070 to donate via text.