Bridging the digital skills gap in Bolton

Róisín McGovern
Digital Training Lead
23 Jun 2023

Back in November 2022 the Bolton Digital Skills programme launched with the aim of equipping 50 local charities with the confidence and skills needed to thrive in the digital space. The programme was a collaborative initiative made possible by Bolton Wanderers in the Community, a charitable organisation associated with Bolton Wanderers Football Club, and Bolton CVS (Community and Voluntary Services), a leading infrastructure organisation supporting the voluntary, community, and social enterprise sector in Bolton.




The result? 50 local organisations empowered to take up space in the digital landscape and leverage the power of technology to raise their profile, reach new audiences, and raise more funds!

The programme hoped to address the common digital skills gap we often find within the nonprofit sector that prevents digital inclusion for grassroots organisations. 90 percent of those who applied for the programme described their organisation’s digital maturity as ‘entry level’ or ‘starting out’; at the early stage of their digital journey despite being physically active in their community for years. Recognising the transformative potential of digital technology for community-led organisations, Lightful, along with Bolton Wanderers in the Community and Bolton CVS, united to provide a six month programme to support these organisations transition to a more digital way of working.

One of the charities that participated in the programme is Sapphire Partnership, who has just launched their very first digital campaign #dontdismyability. The campaign seeks to rewrite the narrative around disability for young people in Bolton and embrace difference by amplifying the voices of their service users.

Nonprofits have incredible stories to share, and an intentional digital strategy helps organise that content to really drive results, just like another member of the programme, Leah Payne from Healthwatch Bolton has seen.

My favourite part of the programme was creating a social media strategy. I'd just been posting things online, and not really giving it much thought. So creating the strategy has given us direction and focus. I've enjoyed developing a content planner which gives us more time when we're posting. We do a lot of work, and we're not very good at showcasing it. So for us storytelling is a huge part of the learning we'll take forward.”

To celebrate the Bolton Digital Skills programme, we held a special event at the University of Bolton stadium and were honoured to be joined by The Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Mohammed Ayub, who presented charity representatives with their programme certificates, commending their commitment to enhancing their digital skills!

It was a brilliant opportunity for participants and the teams from Lightful, Bolton Wanderers in the Community, and Bolton CVS to meet together in-person and mark the completion of the six month programme. Several of the charities particularly enjoyed the opportunity to network with other local organisations, and have built connections that we’re sure will continue long-after their time on the programme!

What next?

Participants in the programme have expressed a strong desire to continue their digital learning and learn more skills to elevate their online presence. The partnership hopes to extend support to participants, as well as expand its reach beyond just Bolton to empower charities across Greater Manchester and foster digital proficiency on a wider scale. Watch this space!

If you want to find out more about our work in Bolton (or further afield!), reach out to the Lightful team here. We'd love to hear from you.

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