Our new online service is almost here: we will shortly be up and running!
You may have seen in previous blogs we have been developing a new website which will make it easier for charities and volunteers to connect. Once launched it will give you the power to search for opportunities and skilled people, and make direct contact with the people who most interest you.
It has been a long (and sometimes hard!) road of scoping, prototyping, building and testing at every stage… but we are excited to say we are now in the final phase of bug fixing and data migration.
It is a complex project with many interdependencies, so there may be more time slip, but we expect to be live by mid-August. We will be running a reduced service throughout July, whilst we migrate data and prepare to go-live. Whilst we continue to forward applications from volunteers for existing opportunities, we stopped taking on any new roles on Monday 29th June and we stopped taking on new volunteers from Friday 3rd July. From the end of July (Thursday 30th July) we will close our current volunteer portal which means for a few days registered volunteers will not be able to apply for any roles.
When we launch in August, we will issue new logins to all our volunteers and charities (which have open roles). You can then log in, check details and start using our new service. You can also register as a new volunteer and and register new volunteering opportunities again.
Our Premium and Matching Plus TrusteeWorks services will continue to run as usual through the transition period.
We need your help
We’re doing everything we can to make this a smooth transition, but there may be some teething problems – so please bear with us. This is the starting point of the evolution of our service and we need our users to help us develop it. Please let us know what works well, what doesn’t and what new features would be useful. We really want to hear your feedback and we will be on hand to answer questions and offer support.
What will our new service look like?
These are some of the key features of the new website:
Better search tools – Our new search tool has more options than our old one. And for the first time, charities can search for volunteers.
Better ways to connect – Volunteers will be able to state what kind of opportunities they are looking for, and create public profiles so that charities can find them. Volunteers can also ask charities questions about their roles before applying.
Charities will be able to review the skills on offer within the Reach community before scoping their roles. They can also then search out people who fit their role, and ask them to consider applying.
Greater coverage – All our roles will be automatically cross-posted on LinkedIn, and to a growing selection of other sites.
Easier ways of managing your applications – Volunteers and charities will be able to manage all their applications and correspondence from one ‘dashboard’. This should make it easier to keep track of things, especially if you are dealing with several roles.
More support – We are developing a new Knowledge centre to offer advice on all things relating to skills based volunteering and board recruitment/ being a trustee. We are also piloting a new one to one advice service to help charities scope out great volunteering roles.
New community agreement – Both charities and volunteers 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.
We’re really looking forward to our new service going live – we believe that it’s going to make a big difference to everyone using our service, and to increasing skills based volunteering in the UK.
We’ll keep you posted with further news and updates. We can’t wait for the launch and to have you join us.
The FSI’s Pauline shares her take on the impact of volunteers
When we started Small Charity Week in 2010 we didn’t include a Volunteering Day – that was a real oversight as much of the Small Charity Sector would grind to a halt without the army of volunteers that support a diverse range of causes. Our omission wasn’t intentional, just naive and it didn’t take too long before we realised that Small Charity Week just wasn’t complete without a whole day focussed on volunteering.
Why? Almost every person I have met who has volunteered to support a cause they care passionately about has felt that they got more out of the experience than they put in. And almost every charity I have spoken to say that they get more from the volunteers than they feel they give them back.
Volunteer or Charity who’s got it right?
There is no doubt that volunteering can be an incredibly fulfilling experience for the volunteer. Now more than ever before volunteering opportunities exist both locally and internationally, so it’s great to be able to make a difference in your local community, or on the other side of the world.
No matter how few hours you have to volunteer, no matter whether you volunteer in person or from home, no matter which cause you support, every minute spent volunteering focuses your attention on the big picture of how we all need to work together to make our world a better and safer place for all.
If volunteers ‘get something back’ for the work they do that’s great too. Of course the main motivation will be to give something back but it’s not unreasonable to also ‘get something back’. Volunteering helps you to meet new people, make new friends for life, experience new cultures and see society from a different perspective. Whether the payback is personal growth a new skill gained to put on your CV, or just keeping yourself busy, no matter what the payback as long as it’s meaningful to you, that’s great. What you get back is up to you and you should be clear about what you want so that everyone is clear from the beginning.
As charities we need to remember that recognition takes many forms and sometimes just telling someone that they are doing a ‘good job’ can inspire them, give them confidence and a sense of pride in what they are doing.
Volunteers have a unique perspective on the issues that face the causes they support. Whether taking the afternoon tea around the local hospital, planning the marketing strategy for a community charity or helping build a well in Africa they get under the skin of the issues facing society.
So in Small Charity Week 2014 let’s all celebrate volunteering and understand that ‘everything that goes around comes around’ or at least that’s what my Dad used to say!
For more information on Volunteering Day of Small Charity Week see the Small Charity Week website – all initiatives and activities during the week are free for charities with a turnover under £1.5 million.
Pauline Broomhead is the CEO of the FSI, the charity behind Small Charity Week. The FSI offers free training, conferences and support for small charities across the UK.
Felicity from The OR Society returns to dive deeper into the impact that operational research could have on your charity.
No matter what size or at what stage your organisation is, no matter what kind of decision, problem, or opportunity you face, there’s probably a way for Operational Research to help.
Pro Bono OR from The OR Society consistently delivers significant value – strategic to tactical, top-line to bottom-line – to the organisations and executives who use it.
Benefits of OR include:
Here is what a few of the organisations who’ve received Pro Bono support had to say:
Crimestoppers: ‘We’ve benefited hugely from your work and support in all areas of the project, and from an organisational perspective you’ve enabled us to take a highly professional approach to increasing the efficiency of our charity.’ (Performance Manager)
Participle: ‘I have just started to digest the work you did for us and wanted to say a huge thank you. This will be so critical to our growth and I am very grateful indeed for your time and expertise. The team have described you as “a joy to work with”.’ (Principle Partner)
The Cardinal Hume Centre: “We valued the opportunity to work collaboratively and without doubt benefited from the analyst’s expertise and commitment to the project.” (Operations Director)
We currently have three projects underway with the RSPCA, Work for Us and Harrogate & Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service and a further project about to commence. We have 60 volunteers across the UK who are currently available to work on projects. This puts us in a great position to offer Pro Bono O.R. the third sector organisations across the UK.
Felicity McLeister is the Pro Bono Project Manager at The O.R. Society. You can find her on twitter @FMcLeister.
Felicity introduces the discipline of Operational Research
Operational research (OR) is the discipline of applying appropriate analytical methods to help make better decisions.
I have recently taken up the role as OR Pro Bono Project Manager at The OR Society. Having worked in the third sector for six years and having never heard the term OR, I can really see the need to raise OR’s profile in the sector.
The idea of providing pro bono OR support to the third sector has been discussed among ORS members for a number of years; a pilot scheme run by volunteers has been successfully running since 2011. Please click here for case studies.
How can OR help you?
Third sector organisations face extremely complex decisions about the direction they should take and how to allocate scarce resources. These are some of the issues the organisations we’ve worked with have faced:
Without the tools to model different scenarios and understand the consequences of them, it isn’t surprising that many organisations tend to rely on gut feelings.
An OR practitioner comes armed with an array of analytical tools plus the skills and experience to identify the critical factors and issues, explore the different options and explain the impact of them in real terms.
It won’t make the decisions for you, but it provides some of the head to your organisation’s heart and, when you combine the two, you are more likely to act in the interests of your organisation and its beneficiaries.
We have already helped several third sector organisations and are keen to work with many more.
If you work for a third sector organisation, would like to discuss pro bono support or need more information, please email me on email@example.com quoting ‘OR in the third Sector’.
Felicity McLeister blogs in behalf of the Operational Research (OR) Society
Reach Volunteering is sending a mail shot to 12,000 charities and voluntary organisations as part of its autumn campaign ‘Bringing New Organisations to Reach’.
The campaign aims to:
Reach Chief Executive Sarah King said:
“The autumn campaign marks a step up in raising awareness of the services and resources Reach brings to the voluntary sector. The skilled volunteers help organisations to carry out the vital work they do in the community – more important than ever in a climate of reduced public expenditure and uncertainties around how the Big Society may play out.”
Creativity with volunteers
Many organisations engage their volunteers in the familiar roles of administrative support and fundraising. The campaign explains that Reach has thousands of skilled and professional volunteers who can play a vital role such as auditing, evaluating programmes, running a PR campaign, research or designing a Website.
There is an urgent need to boost the number and skills of Trustees. The mail shot describes how TrusteeWorks, the service jointly provided by Reach and Prospectus, helps to ensure that Trustees have the right skills and experience and that organisations can access the Trustees they need.
The campaign explains how Reach’s collaboration with the ICAEW will bring in potentially thousands of financially-skilled volunteers urgently needed by organisations for such roles as treasurer, auditor, grants officer or account manager. Organisations’ finance volunteer roles are being promoted by the ICAEW – including on its Jobs Website – to its 134,000 members.
Access to Volunteering, The Office for Civil Society’s pilot funding scheme to help disabled people volunteer, is now in its last two rounds of grant-giving.
The remaining deadlines for applications are 28 June and 6 September 2010.
To date, 95 organisations have received grants of between £250 and £5,000 in the three test regions of Greater London, West Midlands and the North West. Current projects include helping disabled people to learn new skills, play a greater role in their communities and be active in the workplace.
Applications can be submitted online, by e-mail, phone or post. In particular, we are interested in projects that help remove the attitudinal barriers that sometimes prevent disabled people from volunteering. We are also interested in applications from organisations new to volunteering.
Successful awardees are able to apply for repeat funding subject to providing suitable monitoring feedback and rollout potential, although the priority will be new applicants.
The website www.accesstovolunteering.org has details of how to apply alongside a list of successful bids, or phone our helpline for more information on: 03000 123 346.