The online presence of DPULOs – anecdotal findings (updated)

I’ve spent much of the last couple of days mapping what disabled people’s user-led organisations there are. This work is part of the Strengthening DPULOs Programme that I’m involved with, and draws upon other mapping exercises that have happened previously.

(It goes without saying that mapping and gapping is an art in itself, which people often pay very good money for others to do. Still, at this stage of the work I’m involved with, a relatively rough and ready mapping exercise – building on much more extensive work that others have done – will suffice.)

As part of the mapping, I’ve been finding out what kind of presence DPULOs have online. The results – as unscientific and anecdotal as they are – make for interesting reading.

To summarise:

  • The vast majority of DPULOs have a website
  • The websites themselves are very mixed: some are incredibly good, some are standard, a small few are quite poor
  • Associated with this, some have clearly had professional design and input
  • Others – though only a handful – are using slightly customized, off-the-shelf products like WordPress, Movable Type and Squarespace to run their online presence
  • In terms of social media, many more than I expected have a Facebook presence – approaching around a third of all DPULOs I’ve identified so far
  • Each has around 50-100 “likes” for their Facebook page, which I’m guessing is around the average for voluntary and community sector organisations
  • Relatively few DPULOs are on Twitter. I have compiled a fairly comprehensive list of those that are on Twitter here
  • There is a spattering of organisations using channels such as Flickr, YouTube, Audioboo, LinkedIn etc.

I’m working on the basis that this position is not dissimilar to any other subsection of the voluntary and community sector. If it is dissimilar, then I’d be keen to know the reasons why, as this would suggest a stream of work that could be particularly useful for DPULOs.

In the meantime, there are 4 (superficial) implications that occur to me as a result of this:

  1. A relatively low cost and low barrier means by which DPULOs can establish a local presence is not currently being fully explored to its potential
  2. Facebook is a popular tool that DPULOs are beginning to recognise is of value to their offer
  3. Twitter is less popular with disabled people’s organisations. Where individuals have used it to a great extent, the same can’t be said of organisations that are controlled by and for disabled people
  4. There is a business opportunity for someone to develop the websites (based on off-the-shelf products) and social media offering of DPULOs through a relatively low-cost offer. The added value of such of an offer would be significant, since the use of websites and social media are under-utilised by the DPULO “sector” as a whole.

Would be really interested to know if people have any other reflections on this, and importantly any ideas or stuff they know is already happening that can help address some of these points.

Update: this article from the Chief Executive of the Media Trust is pertinent to this post:

In a world in which local voices can have global reach, charities and NGOs have urgent and exciting new opportunities to give voice to their causes, to empower communities and citizens, and to be responsive to their needs and aspirations. Digital media has the power to enable charities and communities to become more integrated and cohesive – but finding the skills, strategies and resources can throw up some huge challenges to small and large organisations, many of which are juggling complex bottom lines around service delivery, campaigning and income generation.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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