New online hub for skilled volunteering

We will soon be launching a ‘’ for skilled volunteering – a new web-based service which will dramatically increase the volume, range and quality of skilled volunteering across the UK. It is due to launch in summer 2015. Here’s an update on the project.

The background
The new service will be an online hub connecting charities with talented professionals who want to donate their skills. The service will offer charities access to a pool of motivated skilled volunteers, and give them more effective ways of finding and recruiting the right person. Volunteers will find lots of help to discover the right opportunity, as well as exciting new ways to offer their talents.

We are basing the design of the new service on our experience of brokering skilled volunteering, specially commissioned research and our user testing.

We won a Cabinet Office-funded Nesta Innovation in Giving Fund award, and, together with a grant from the Dulverton Trust, we have secured sufficient funds to contract a digital agency to build the site.

Drawing on the skills of our (internal) volunteers and staff, and with additional pro bono expertise where needed (including IBM), we have just passed the prototype stage and are now moving into the final build phase.

Between now and go-live (and, no doubt, several weeks past that date!), we will be enlisting the help of you, the volunteers and charities who use our services, to help iron out any glitches and ensure the platform meets the needs of all our users throughout the UK.

We’d like to thank everyone who has shared their time and talents to help us reach this point in this really exciting project.


Now let’s talk detail


Your knowledge centre
When you log on to our new platform in the autumn, one of the most useful changes, for charities and volunteers alike, will be our new knowledge centre. In this wide-ranging section of the website, you’ll find detailed information on all aspects of recruiting and becoming a volunteer or trustee and how Reach will support you in that process. Just some of the topics include legal issues, volunteer interview questions, board roles and responsibilities, choosing the right role or volunteer and success stories. With your help, it will build into the comprehensive tool kit for the skilled volunteering community.

Your own personal dashboard
Volunteers and charities will be able to manage all their applications and correspondence from one ‘dashboard’. You’ll be able to receive advice and help throughout the entire process, for example, on identifying your transferable skills, how to gracefully reject a role or becoming a trustee (if you’re a volunteer). If you’re a charity, you’ll be able to manage all your roles and applications from one dashboard, referencing previous role descriptions, sharing recruitment tasks with colleagues and being reminded to respond to any outstanding applications.

Searching for what you need
We’ve got a great new search tool which is much more efficient and flexible than our old one. If you’re a charity, you’ll be able to actively search for volunteers so you can see the kind of skills on offer before scoping out your role. As a volunteer, you’ll be able to be as precise or broad as you like when searching for the perfect role.

Talking to each other
Volunteers can ask direct questions of charities, to clarify what a charity is looking for or explore if there is some flexibility in how it is done. In turn, charities can contact volunteers to ask if they are interested in a role.

More roles and volunteers = more choice
For volunteers, with the increased scale that the new platform brings, there will be more opportunities to choose from as well as a broader range of projects and roles. We hope it will draw in people who could not volunteer easily before as well as charities who hadn’t previously considered recruiting for a skilled volunteering role.

Rest assured that we will carry on vetting and advising charity registrations as usual to make sure that only well-defined, skilled opportunities are listed on the new platform. The platform will increase the number and quality of volunteers available through Reach so there will literally be more to choose from.

If you’re a charity, you’ll have a higher chance of finding a volunteer who is local (or prepared to work virtually), with the right skills and sufficient time, who cares about your cause.

Your charity will be able to secure a wider range of donated expertise. As well as regular ongoing roles and trustees, you’ll be able to find volunteers for short-term projects or receive advice on recruitment issues through the new volunteer advisory panel.

Great one-to-one advice
Our new Reach advisors’ panel will give one-off advice to charities about their recruitment and skills gaps and to volunteers about finding the right role. They’re experts on all things skilled volunteering.

New community agreement
Both charities and volunteers will agree how all users will behave on the website. They will sign up to our new community agreement. This will focus on areas which often pose problems such as obligations and rights, ‘volunteers’ looking for remuneration and poor communication.

Over the coming weeks, we will be contacting every volunteer and charity on our database to ask your help in helping us create something that will benefit every charity and skilled volunteer in the country. At this point, there are some simple things to update as we move towards the new website. The platform is still in development but we hope that with your help, it will deliver really crucial expertise to charities like yours, when you need it rather than when you can afford it.

Because the site is based on self-service and proactive behaviour, we believe it will be possible to achieve a much greater transfer of talent to the sector than has ever been possible before.

Madeleine was Reach’s Marketing Manager until August 2014
July 21st, 2014 by