Recruit Partners

As Digital Champion, you need to influence others to take action. The most effective way to do this is to target organisations (as opposed to individuals) as they have the resources and reach to have the greatest impact by:

  • encouraging their employees to get online and help others get online;
  • spreading the message to their customers, using their own communication channels and budgets; and
  • making decisions about policy or strategy, product and service design, and investments that can support digital participation.

Key lesson: tailor your message to align with the strategic objectives of partner organisations

For example:

  • Channel shift – many organisations are moving services online and increasing digital participation will enable them to serve as many customers as possible through this channel.
  • Growth – the offline community represent a large ‘green field’ market of new customers, and the internet is a new way of engaging with them.
  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR) – increasing digital participation fits into the CSR agenda of many organisations.
  • Efficiency – serving and supporting the offline population via traditional channels is expensive and digital participation can reduce this cost. This is particularly relevant for the public sector that serves all members of society. Better use of technology and the internet can also increase an organisation’s efficiency and improve the quality of service.

“MLF has been very smart at matching organisations’ objectives to the cause.”  Race Online 2012 Partner

Targeting the leaders of organisations across multiple sectors in this way will result in significant volumes of activity that will trickle down to the offline population – a hard-to-reach group, who may currently underestimate the benefits of being online.   

Key lesson: take a personal approach to influence the influencers 

In the UK, the Digital Champion first approached the leaders of 10 big organisations including Google, Microsoft and the BBC, before launching the Race Online 2012 Partner programme at scale, writing personally to the Chief Executives of the top 350 UK companies.  By the end of the campaign 1,300 partners had been recruited from the private, public and charitable sectors.

Consider using the media to encourage leaders to commit to the cause and to encourage the online public to help non-internet users online.  This was used to great effect in the UK.

Key lesson: ask partners to make public pledges  

Use a partnership model to encourage organisations to join in. Ask organisations to make a “pledge” to take action to increase digital participation.   Work with the largest, most influential organisations to help them define their pledges and provide examples of activities for others, for example:

  • Inspiring their employees and customers to become digital champions
  • Developing digital participation programmes or supporting existing ones
  • Spreading the message about the benefits of digital participation

By signing up in this way, partners are making a public commitment to make use of their workforce and resources (including their communication and marketing channels; budgets; branch networks; technology skills; influence; service design) to promote and encourage digital participation.

The Race Online 2012 team also followed up by asking Partners to provide “Promises in Action”, describing how they were delivering on their pledges.