The One Digital Phase One evaluation looked at the effectiveness, scalability and sustainability of the different models for working with Digital Champions. The results are shared to help partners consider what type of project might be most effective for them.  The evaluation focused on the pros and cons of each model - Volunteer, Professional and Embedded. 

Selecting a model – general questions to consider:

  • Consider the type of digital skills support required – narrow to support access to a particular service (for instance Universal Credit applications) or wider to improve health and well-being; 
  • Think about the resources you have available to provide training and support to your Digital Champions. 

Volunteer models

Pros

  • Peer learning - trust and engagement
  • Well-being and employability benefits for volunteers
  • Potential for large cohorts of volunteers with structured support 
  • Potential for large scale recruitment through Corporate Social Responsibility programmes

Cons

  • Variations in skill levels of volunteers and quality of support
  • May be harder to develop skills of volunteers
  • Recording of learner activity
  • Travel and time availability 
  • May be difficult to recruit volunteers into areas where needed
  • Costs of managing volunteers
  • May be high turnover of volunteers without high levels of support

Professional models

Pros

  • High level of functioning digital skills and training/support skills
  • Consistent quality of digital skills support
  • Reliable monitoring and reporting of Digital Champion activity (part of job description)
  • Flexibility - services can be tailored to local needs on the ground
  • Low levels of management support
  • Likely to be less turnover of staff

Cons

  • Paid roles require significant financial input
  • Requires ongoing financial support to be scalable

Embedded models

Pros

  • Have a pre-existing relationship with beneficiaries 
  • Motivation for engagement can be strong
  • Regular contact with beneficiaries enables 'nudge' approach
  • Good scalability if groups of front line staff trained
  • Works well if embedded into organisation's processes

Cons

  • Need staff motivation to take on the role
  • Aptitude for the role will vary, so likely consistency of support will vary
  • Time and resource pressures may de-prioritise digital
  • Relationship with beneficiary may be conflicted or stressed
  • Can be harder to measure outputs or outcomes
  • Commitment needed from organisation to free up staff time for training at set up and on a continuing basis with new staff

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