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How charities could use Clubhouse

18 May 2021

Clubhouse is a new, audio-only social media platform which was launched in April 2020. At the moment, as it’s still in beta, it’s available on iOS only. However, due to its rising popularity – around 2 million actively weekly users – an Android version is due to launch very soon.

It is essentially a social media platform where people can have live conversations grouped around topics. It’s been described as a mix of panel discussions, live podcasts and networking opportunities.

How does Clubhouse work?

For now, people can only join Clubhouse if they’ve been invited by an existing user. I believe this is only temporary whilst it’s still in beta. Once it comes out of beta, hopefully anyone will be able to join.

Once you’ve accepted the invite, you’ll be able to see who in your phone contacts list is on Clubhouse so you can follow them if you wish to. You’ll also be asked which topics you’re interested in, but I’d advise not picking too many as you will end up with lots of Rooms in those genres, but many won’t actually be of interest.

When you open the app, you’ll see what’s called ‘the Hallway’ with different ‘Rooms’ that are taking place right then, based on who you follow and which interests you chose. You’ll be able to see the topic and how many people are in the Room. You can also use the search function to look for Rooms, people or Clubs on certain topics.

When you enter a Room, you will be on mute but will be able to hear the speakers who are on the ‘Stage’. There is the ability to raise your hand if you want to ask a question or contribute to the discussion but it’s up to the speaker whether they invite you up to the Stage. If they do, you will then be unmuted and able to speak. Once you’ve asked your question, or contributed, you can move back to the audience if you wish to.

The Room is organised by:

  • The Stage – for the hosts and invited speakers
  • People followed by the speakers – if you’re followed by one or more of the speakers, you are closer to the stage (still muted)
  • Others in the Room – this is anyone else who isn’t followed by any of the speakers.

When in the Room, you can click on anyone’s profile picture, read about them and follow them if you wish. The more people you follow, the more Rooms you’ll see in your Hallway when you open the App as you’ll see Rooms that people you follow are currently in.

Decided that you’re not really interested in the discussion taking place? You can leave the room by clicking on the ‘leave quietly’ button.

Can charities be branded on Clubhouse?

At the moment, only individuals can be on the platform and not brands. However, once you’ve hosted a Room three times, you can apply for a Club – that’s where the branding could come in.

Myself, and fellow charity consultants Justine Lee and Helen Olszowska got together to start a weekly charity lunch (now monthly) and learn called The Charity Club UK on Tuesdays at 12:30 until 1:30pm – with almost 250 members / followers, covering a different topic and guests each month.

Opportunities for charities

Clubhouse offers individuals in charities the opportunity to network, learn and to create Rooms based on topics around their expertise.

This is something charities have an abundance of in their areas of specialism and where a Q&A format would work really well.

The Red Cross Red Crescent club hosts conversations with volunteers, specialists, experts and community leaders on topics such as global health, disaster response, education, migration and displacement, and more.

Clubhouse recently announced a monetization feature (in beta) where people can send payments to creators. This is where it could get interesting for charities as you could host an exclusive and intimate ‘In conversation with’ Room with one of your celebrity patrons or frontline staff, for example, and ask people to pay a donation to be part of the conversation.

Top tips to get started

As Clubhouse is still new and in beta, my advice would be to:

  • Create an individual account and join some Rooms to get a feel for the platform and the different types of Rooms (panel discussion format, in conversation with, Q&A etc).
  • Spend some time looking for people or Clubs who are similar to what you’re looking to use Clubhouse for, in a brand or professional capacity, and then see what works and what doesn’t.
  • Host a Room once you feel you’ve got a good idea of how Clubhouse works. You can even do a practice one with colleagues or peers as there is the option to create a closed Room.
  • Create a Club once you’ve got a strategic plan in place for how you’ll use Clubhouse for your charity.

One of the most interesting things about Clubhouse, for now at least, is their openness with their community. Every Sunday there is a Town Hall meeting with the founders where you can submit a question beforehand and they’ll answer it. They’ll also update you on new features and what they’re working on.

Falling short

At the moment, Clubhouse is not accessible to those who are deaf or have hearing impairments. There is no live captioning and it doesn’t even support Apple’s VoiceOver screen reader. From a visually impaired perspective, it doesn’t support text-resizing. So, in terms of accessibility, Clubhouse has a long way to go.

For further reading on Clubhouse and how charities could use it, read Helen Olszowska’s article on Charity Digital.

Clubhouse Clubs of interest:

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Image: Ihor Saveliev on Unsplash

Kirsty Marrins

copywriter, trainer and consultant, freelance

Kirsty is a copywriter, accredited trainer and consultant working in the charity sector. She has a regular column in Third Sector where she writes about all things digital. Kirsty won a CharityComms Inspiring Communicator Award in 2016 and was named one of the 100 most influential people in the charity sector in 2019. She was previously a trustee of the Small Charities Coalition.