UKCharityCamp retro

The feedback for 2023’s UKCharityCamp has been genuinely excellent

Every project, we have a retro. It’s one of those ceremonies that marks the cadence of the year for me – the pulse of projects started, and work delivered. UKCharityCamp was the highlight of my year. It was a long-held professional ambition achieved. The retro looked at how the whole team felt about it, the feedback we had from the folk who showed up, and asked 3 questions.

What should we do again?

Keep faith in the format 

“Informal is best” was the line on one of our feedback post-its, and there were a whole bunch in a similar vein. The unconference format can centre the voices of big, loud, privileged people if participants aren’t careful, but with respectful involvement of all who want it there’s none better for sharing and learning. I saw folk deliberately keeping silent so folk who hadn’t spoken, could, and that was really great to see.

Keep the same way of building the grid

We said back in September that we’d listened to feedback from an internal dxw unconference, and we’d do differently, and we did. No pitching line, no popularity context for your session idea – just write it on a post it note, we’ll do the rest. We did, and it worked. There were 54 session ideas – that’s not quite one per person, but I’m sure it’s a higher ratio than I’ve seen at previous conferences. I think the lesson is, as ever, that inclusive design is good for everyone.

UK Charity Camp attendees standing in front of a wall full of post-its with suggested discussion topics on them.
Creating the grid

Keep the venue 

The fine folk at the Studio really looked after us. They’ve got more space we can use too. There’s a landing where the lifts and stairs to our bit of the building weren’t totally obvious. But we put a greeter there and everyone found their way. It’s a trifling point, and that’s all I got. As one of our retro post-its said “Brum!” Thanks to Agencies for Good for holding their meet-up round the corner. Great place to decompress afterwards.

“Lots of great insights into how to build effective teams across organisations, how to better share data and insights, how we can ensure new technology is only implemented where it adds value and of course how we keep users at the heart of everything we do.”

Kathryn Dingle, Product Manager at The Scouts

What should we do differently?

We should have given out more tickets

We opened a waiting list when we hit venue capacity, but folk need notice to take time off and arrange travel. Some people missed out, and that’s a shame. Next time, we’ll remember that folk drop out of events, and we’ll allow for that. 

We should have had 1 or 2 more rooms

We ended up making 2 spaces for conversations in the big room, which meant it got a little noisy at times. One of our feedback notes was that sessions were most useful when they were personal. We’ll try and get that useful advice into the mix next time so there are more spaces, and more rooms, for smaller, focussed, discussions.

A wall covered with post-its with feedback about  the unconference on it.
The feedback wall

We should have got more new people, and specifically a couple more funders, in the room

I’m confident the folk who were there got a lot out of the day. The feedback shows us this was a day of learning and sharing – this was more than “an event”, this was CPD. There were a bunch of first-time  folk, who got to experience the unconference transition from confusion to enthusiasm about the format.  Next time, we’ll spread the word better and we’ll have more specifics to say about the benefits of being there.

What next?

The feedback for 2023’s UKCharityCamp has been genuinely excellent.  A load of positive comments, and some useful pointers for the future. Annie Legge’s newsletter post speaks for everyone who was there, I think: “It was an inspiring day, mainly down to the energy and enthusiasm of each and every participant to share their knowledge and hopes for the future, but also their vulnerability – of what is not working, hard and challenging across the third sector.”

We’re very grateful for the involvement of our sponsors in bringing the event to life: UKGovCamp, Promo cymru, Catalyst, Dovetail, the Tech for good organisers network and Third sector lab all helped out. A real thank you to the team at dxw, without whose support and financial backing it wouldn’t have happened, to our campmakers, and to all at Neontribe who helped make this happen.

Group of 8 people smiling, all wearing black t-shirts with UKCharityCamp on them in white text.
All the UK Charity Camp helpers

We’ve a planning session at the end of January. I think it’s safe to say you’ll be hearing from UKCharityCamp again, and if you want to be sure, you can sign up for more information at the website. If there’s anything else you want to say to us, email me:

“I found it energising and thought provoking — things that for me are a sign of a good day out

Zach Moss – Compassion in Dying