Here at Reach we understand the role digital solutions have to play in enabling civil society to expand its reach and respond to the needs of communities and individuals.
For this reason, Reach was delighted to contribute to the Review of Civil Society in London, commissioned by London Funders, working closely with Greater London Volunteering and the London Voluntary into Service Council.
Our own digital journey and its impact features as a case study in the final report from the Review, The Way Ahead: Civil Society at the Heart of London and is reproduced below. Our digital journey continues iteratively, we have not so much as arrived at an end destination, but charted a course that allows us to respond to the needs of charities and volunteers alike in the future.
Reach Volunteering has used digital and online approaches to increase the scale of skills based volunteering and the impact of such volunteering on civil society organisations. For example, the launch of its online platform has enabled Reach Volunteering to support a 50% increase in activity since its launch in Summer 2015 without needing to grow its service team.
Another example is its partnership with LinkedIn. Prior to the launch of LinkedIn’s new volunteering service, Reach Volunteering worked with them to trial an approach to finding skilled volunteers by adapting the existing jobs function on LinkedIn to bring volunteering opportunities to the attention of those who had not previously come forward.
The partnership continued after LinkedIn launched its volunteering service, and is enabling Reach Volunteering to make the most of LinkedIn’s several million members in the UK to extend its volunteering offer. The initiative has attracted the attention of potential volunteers whom Reach previously had been unable to target.
For example Oxfam were recently looking to recruit Health and Safety Auditors in Aberdeen, an initiative for which Reach Volunteering would have previously struggled to find suitable volunteers. Via LinkedIn it was able to identify scores of potential volunteers. Currently 150 skilled volunteers a month join Reach through LinkedIn. When Reach’s own digital platform came online in summer 2015, this was synched with LinkedIn to streamline operations.
Reach Volunteering’s Chief Executive Janet Thorne said: “This has been an invaluable initiative that has enabled us to scale up our work in a way which was not previously possible. We have been able to achieve so much more and reach so much further.”