Scouts have spent 74 million minutes on Zoom since June 

24 Nov 2020 News

Nearly all the UK’s Scout groups have embraced virtual meetings, with the movement clocking up 74 million minutes since June, the charity’s digital lead has said.  

Lara Burns, chief digital officer at the Scout Association, was giving a presentation at Civil Society Media’s Charity Finance Week yesterday, where she explained that 95% of local groups had signed up to use Zoom through the central body. 

Early in the pandemic, the Scouts had approached Zoom to ask for free licenses to enable local groups to run virtual scouting activities, as well as much larger meetings for the whole movement. The charity had one call that involved 14,000 members.

Burns told delegates that the platform had been “a massive factor” in helping the Scouts to embrace digital during the pandemic.  

Having the partnership with Zoom meant the charity was able to set safety and security settings for local groups to help protect young people. 

When face-to-face activities were able to take place in Covid-secure ways during the pandemic, Burns said, many leaders took a “blended” approach. 

New audiences 

The Scouts also curated a range of content to support parents when schools closed, which helped to engage with “parents who did not know that much about Scouting”.  

The charity's content received over 700,000 unique views, and the charity is now able to stay engaged with this new audience via email. 

Burns said that responding quickly and repurposing existing content that could be “blasted that out over social media” was key to its success. 

‘Digital transformation happening scarily fast’ 

As a digital leader, Burns said the pandemic means she is no longer spending time explaining the benefits of digital. 

“The thing about this pandemic is that so many incredible things have happened from my point of view. It’s actually been pretty easy and it’s been scarily fast,” she said. 

She added: “We haven’t had to do complex workshops to get stakeholder buy-in.” 

The charity's staff have been working from home since mid-March, with the charity running its payroll remotely and holding its annual general meeting virtually. Burns said staff have embraced new ways of working. 

“My digital team are really becoming more like facilitators and coaches and trainers, working with their colleagues to upskill them,” she said.

 “One thing that is clear is that never has digital been more important, and ai a core part of our strategy.” 

Top tips 

Burns shared five top tips: 

  1. Prioritise and focus on your core service.
  2. Use or repurpose your tech and your content. 
  3. Use the enthusiasm and support of volunteers.
  4. Never forget to ask your users.
  5. Just do it. Don’t overthink it, don’t take too long, and keep learning.
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