There are so many nonprofit organizations that do amazing work, and at Vanilla, we are lucky enough to be able to call some of these organizations our customers. These organizations do invaluable work; their visions, mission and values work to change and improve the lives of many people across the globe, and we are proud to say that their Vanilla Forums is able to contribute to their impact and success.
That being said, I thought it was important to showcase some of the very important work that these organizations are doing, as they continue to raise awareness of key issues and mobilize people to take action. Twice a month, I'll be showcasing a nonprofit that is doing incredible work and highlighting how these organizations harness the power of community to help execute their mandate.
Today, we’ll be talking about Scope, a disability equality charity in England and Wales that aims to ensure that all disabled people are able to enjoy equality and fairness. This charity was founded in 1952 and began with just three parents and one social worker, with the initial goal to ensure that disabled children had equal access to education. Today, Scope has over 5,000 volunteers, 38,500 donors and fundraising income of £19.3 million in 2017/18.
Before we dive into how Scope uses their community to help achieve their goals, let’s take a look at the vision, mission and values of this charity.
Scope Vision Mission and Values
The ultimate vision of Scope is to reach a state where all disabled people enjoy equality and fairness. Scope says that they will continue to provide information, emotional support and campaign relentlessly towards this vision to create a fairer society.
Scope describes its mission as the following:
“We’re a strong community of disabled and non-disabled people with a shared vision of equality.
We provide practical advice and emotional support whenever people need them most. We do this through our Scope helpline, our online community, a range of employment and child sleep services, community engagement programmes, and more. All of our services are developed to achieve our strategy, Everyday Equality.
We use our collective power to change attitudes and end injustice. And we campaign relentlessly to create a fairer society.”
As part of Scope’s mission to provide advice and support, their online community has become a fundamental aspect of their strategy to successfully execute and achieve this mission.
Lastly, the values that Scope has established as part of their mandate are used to set the tone for how they work, behave and are ultimately used to guide their decision making process. Scope stands by five key values:
Pioneering: We are ambitious and determined to drive change. We focus on how we can make the most impact. We innovate and strive for better, pushing ourselves and our boundaries.
Courageous: We are single minded in our desire to achieve equality. We are bold, challenging the status quo, ourselves and each other. We are not afraid to fail fast and learn quickly.
Connected: We connect and collaborate internally and externally, to create a fairer society. We listen and share, tapping into the expertise of others.
Open: We are transparent about what we do and how we do things. Creating supportive, accessible environments – building trust with each other and our customers to achieve more.
Fair: We make sure everyone has a fair chance. We value and respect each other’s expertise and diversity. We take responsibility for what we do and support each other to succeed.
The Scope Community
In 2014, Scope launched their online community in order to provide those looking for support with a platform to connect with others who also share similar experiences. Scope’s online community is now garnering over 150,000 visits per month.
One great aspect of the Scope online community is that it lives by the Scope values; as an open community, where anyone can navigate freely throughout the forum, Scope lives up to its commitment to being “open,” by “creating supportive, accessible environments – building trust with each other and our customers to achieve more.” Ultimately, the Scope community aims to ensure that no one is left out, and that you don’t have to join the community to look for help.
While the community is open, the value that the community brings to those who sign-up is incredible. As a registered member of the online community (it’s quick and easy to sign up!) you are able to comment, react to posts, start a community poll and of course, post a new discussion or question. This testimony from one community members sums up the benefits of this online community perfectly:
“Thanks to Scope, I went from feeling alone to finding a whole community of people to listen to me and support me. I felt I could also reciprocate, which really boosted my self-esteem. People on the online community were so helpful – especially those who had been through the same things as me.”
The success of Scope’s online community is not only attributed to the dedication and commitment of the organization and the community members to improve the lives of everyone with a disability; it’s also attributed to the amazing Community Team at Scope.
The community management team is very active, dedicated and has implemented a number of key features to encourage engagement and collaboration, which no doubt has a huge impact on the success of this community. For instance, the Scope community does an excellent job at empowering their community MVPs; there are three different types of volunteers that help encourage engagement:
Community Champions: The Scope community champions are the friendly and helpful face of the community, who are usually the first point of contact for new community members. These champions not only welcome newcomers and offer support, but they also hold moderating permissions so that the community can remain a safe and inclusive space for everyone.
Community Advisors: The Scope community advisors consist of both staff and volunteers who are experts in a concentrated and specific community topic. These experts offer great insight, support and guidance to ensure that community members are given the best advice possible.
Guest Posters: The community features two guest posts a week; these are usually personal stories or anecdotes to help raise awareness, break taboos, and encourage engagement.
Another great aspect of the Scope community is their use of reactions, badges and ranks; the gamification features implemented here help the community share their sentiments and keep engagement levels high.
The community uses four primary reactions:
Insightful: the OP is rewarded 1 point for every member who has this reaction
Like: the OP is rewarded 1 point for every member who has this reaction
Awesome: the OP is rewarded 1 point for every member who has this reaction
Spam: the community team is notified of this post
The points awarded to members through the reactions and through other actions, such as posting a new discussion, provide them with the opportunity to earn badges and rank up. Members’ badges and rank are displayed on their profile page; ranks are also displayed next to the profile name on any posts. The ranks system allows members to progress up the ladder, through the following ranks: Listener, Connected, Courageous, Pioneering and Disability Gamechanger.
Once members reach the level of ‘Connected,’ they are able to send private messages.
Scope’s Community Impact
I’m sure that you can already see the value that this online community delivers to its members; it provides those in need with 24/7 support wherever and whenever they need it. The impact that this community has was expressed by one of their community managers in an emotional and heartfelt statement:
“Many people find the community when they’re at a really low point in their life. Sometimes they are looking for someone to turn to for emotional support. They may be feeling lonely, or might have received a diagnosis that surprised or worried them, and may want to talk it through with others. They might be going through a stressful period at work or be looking for advice on whether they are eligible for any financial support to deal with the extra costs disabled people face day to day. Whatever their needs, our community is always there for them.”
If you want to find out how you can contribute to Scope, make sure you check out their website. You can donate, volunteer or even find one of their events near you.
Either way, the story, history and mandate of Scope and their online community is one that makes us feel rewarded and fulfilled; simply knowing that our software is being used for such great work makes us proud to be Vanilla.