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net:gain is an innovative programme, designed to bring about a step-change in the ICT capability of the VCS. Services are offered to the sector through VCS UK-online centres. net:gain aims to help voluntary and community organisations to take a practical, appropriate and informed approach to ICT planning and support.

Tel: 024 768 53054



Introduction to net:gain


net:gain tackles a question facing many in the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) – how to make the right decisions about technology faced with a shortage of resources and funding restrictions. 

The programme adopts a social enterprise model to help Voluntary Sector Organisations (VCOs) develop an ICT strategy which corresponds to the organisation's activities and mission.

Aims of net:gain

All those who have ever felt pressurised to make decisions about technology for which they are unqualified will find solace in net:gain. 

The programme’s primary aim is to help VCOs understand the business applications of ICT and how these can best be used to develop an ICT strategy.  Rather than applying a broad brush approach, net:gain encourages VCOs to look at their own mission to define a strategy which complements their unique objectives. 

net:gain is delivered through a network of around 30 UK Online centres based in the VCS.  As VCOs themselves, the centres understand the needs of the local VCS and use this knowledge to wrap additional benefits into their delivery of net:gain.   Although net:gain has been developed nationally it is tailored locally, increasing the capacity of VCS based UK Online centres at the same time.

How net:gain delivers its aims

net:gain is not a programme for ‘techies’.  It is targeted at decision makers (Chief Executives, Trustees, senior managers etc) within the VCS, who will consider how technology fits into what their organisation delivers now and where it can lead them in the future.

Delegates who subscribe to net:gain benefit from 12 month’s membership including a programme of at least 2 workshops, support and guidance, signposting, online support and materials. 

At the heart of the process is an ICT Action Plan, which leads the delegate to examine areas of their organisation such as their mission, existing resources and staff skills, ICT requirements and associated costs and risks. 

With support from their local net:gain centre, showcasing of some key applications of ICT and follow up workshops, the delegate will gain the knowledge they need to implement an ICT strategy right for their organisation.

Organisations, accountable body and staff

ruralnet|uk is the organisation leading the net:gain partnership, which also involves Ufi, Funding Matters and the Foyer Federation.

David Ellis of ruralnet|uk is responsible for the day-to-day project management of net:gain, assisted by other members of the ruralnet team. 

The programme is directed by a Management Group, chaired by a representative of ruralnet|uk and attended by members of Ufi and Funding Matters.  The Management Group is responsible for overseeing the work of the Project Manager.

net:gain is informed by an Advisory Group, including representatives from ruralnet|uk, Ufi and the Foyer Federation.  The Advisory Group is seeking to appoint additional members including representatives from net:gain centres, delegate VCOs, stakeholders and specialists eg in social enterprise, ICT strategy, etc.

Recent Developments and Projects

Third Round - net:gain centre training and development is funded by Ufi Ltd. The third round of funding for centres is open from September 06 to March 07. In Round 3, centres are selected:

  • to fill gaps in current provision
  • on recommendation from ChangeUp and other stakeholders
  • based on seven key factors including enterpreneurship, partnerships and track record

Applicants are selected by interview from among existing or newly-joined UK online centres in the voluntary sector.

Network Leaders - Two existing net:gain centres have been awarded further funding to deliver the net:gain programme to a wider geographical audience. Each region has one or more net:gain centres where local VCOs can gain access to the service. Network Leaders are larger net:gain centres which operate through several venues. They also help other new net:gain centres in their region to take on and deliver the net:gain programme, work with other local stakeholders, and make sure that net:gain fits well with ChangeUp initiatives in their region.

Key Documents and Links

pointer Services for Delegates and Services for Centres Word icon 106k

pointer Frequently Asked Questions

Resources for VCS

net:gain centres are assisted by several tools including a detailed business planning spreadsheet and a database to manage delegates.  In addition, net:gain develops and produces a series of marketing and training materials for centres to deploy with the programme.  

Delegates who subscribe to net:gain receive a package of benefits including 12 month’s membership to the online advice and guidance resource Experts Online, already delivered to 2500 individuals.  As well as receiving additional services and follow-up support from their net:gain centre, they may also take advantage of signposting by the centre to other local initiatives, such as Circuit Riders, for example. 

During the workshops, delegates are given a full set of materials, including a copy of an ICT Action Plan to follow.  net:gain also gives delegates the opportunity to network and support each other through a secure conference accessible via a membership login, as well as informally during workshops. 

Further resources, including links to other programmes, are available on the net:gain website.

Relationship of net:gain activities to regional and local projects

As a ChangeUp programme, net:gain is committed to working with stakeholders at all levels.  Liaising in particular with the ICT hub at a national level, net:gain also ensures that regional and local stakeholders are fully briefed about the programme before it is deployed in their area.  In fact, net:gain will not operate in any area until the appropriate ChangeUp consortium has given it the seal of approval.   

Centres are also encouraged to liaise with their local ChangeUp body and are required to deliver a letter of support as part of their development activities. Working in partnership with ChangeUp stakeholders at all levels is vital to net:gain, ensuring that delegates have access to all the support available to them as they develop a comprehensive ICT strategy.

Contact details and website

National Rural Enterprise Centre
Stoneleigh Park

Tel: 024 768 53054



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