Information for voluntary sector groups
The spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is a concern for all of us and VSNS takes this situation seriously. We can all do things to help reduce the risk of catching and spreading this virus.
Keep up to date with advice from:
The government site gives clear guidance on what to do (e.g. self-isolate) if you have returned from visiting any of the affected areas, whether you are experiencing symptoms or not.
What you can do:
If you are providing services in the social, community care or residential care setting there is specific advice for providers of these services on the government website here.
What VSNS has done:
Search Engine Optimisation helps your website perform better in search engines like Google.
SEO is important because good SEO practices improve the usability of your web site and your visitor’s user experience. You’ll get discovered by the right people more often, allowing you to grow your base of supporters and donors.
Users trust search engines – if your site is in at the top of a search for the keywords used by your visitors, they will have more trust in your site.
Many small charities face 2 problems – not enough website visitors and the ones who find you are not engaged enough to stay.
So how can you improve your SEO?
The higher your google ranking, the easier your website will be to find. You’ll attract more visitors and persuade them to donate and support you with an interesting and attractive, navigable site – easy!
The Rule of Social Proof: ‘If others are doing it, it must be the right thing to do.’
92% of consumers worldwide trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of marketing. People care about what others think and you can use that to attract new donors and supporters.
Tell the stories of your beneficiaries and supporters in text and pictures. A good story will spark emotion and empathy in your reader and persuade them to answer the call to action on your donate page. Images in the online world increase engagement by 313%. Not everything can be expressed with words, but nearly everything can be explained with visuals. Pictures help us relate to content, which will increase credibility and trust in your cause.
Use numbers on your website donation page. Show the number of people who have already given or who have fundraised for you to motivate visitors to donate. Tell your readers your total so far if you have a target amount to raise, this inspires them to help you reach your goal.
If you’ve received positive mentions from credible media sources, influencers or publications, put them on your website as well as key quotes from experts. Don’t forget to include social media buttons on your website pages to demonstrate broad support for your organisation and so people can easily share your content.
The internet has made social proof a powerful way to influence social behaviours. By building and increasing the visibility of social proof for your cause, you more clearly demonstrate the value of your organisation to prospective donors and fundraisers.
Would you enter your contact data on a website that was unsecured? We wouldn’t.
https is a secure way of transmitting the data associated with your website. On most browsers (even those on phones), you’ll see a lock icon in the address bar. The https lock icon appears when your site has an SSL (secure socket layer) certificate.
If your site collects personal information you should be protecting the data of your donors and supporters with an SSL certificate.
Usually costing approximately £50 per year and a couple of days to implement, your website hosting company will almost certainly offer an SSL certificate and set your site up with it.
Support for Windows 7 ended on 14th January 2020 and we’ve been asked repeatedly about what that means.
Many of you are still using it – at the end of 2019 about a third of desktop operating systems were reportedly Windows 7, including a large part of the NHS.
Your PC with Windows 7 will continue to work, withdrawal of support by Microsoft means that there will be no software updates (including security updates) so your PC is more vulnerable to cyber-attack. Microsoft will also cease to provide technical support when things go wrong.
Continuing with Windows 7 also affects your organisation’s legal compliance. You cannot meet the security requirements of data protection legislation when you are using an operating system with potential security flaws which are not going to be fixed.
In practical terms – it may cost you more in time wasted recovering data from a system crash or a virus than installing Windows 10.
Unless your PC is very old, Windows 10 will run on the machine you have been using with Windows 7 it’s just a matter of upgrading. If you do decide to upgrade your PC, remember that UK charities can benefit from discounted software donated through the Charity Digital Exchange programme.
Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) have an excellent, more detailed blog post for more information
For those of you that hate change – once you’ve made the move you can customise Windows 10 to look like 7!
Organisations succeed when they talk to their customers and ask them what they think.
Every 2 years on behalf of Surrey County Council, we send out ‘A State of the Voluntary Sector Survey’ asking you about the quality of our services.
This survey provides hard numbers and facts on your opinions and we can use them make important decisions about how we help you.
Please complete the survey to voice your opinion and help us to improve services to you and other voluntary organisations in our community.
You’re not just helping us – you’re helping yourselves and other local charities by improving what we do for you.
Why is it important for charity sector organisations to have a learning culture?
When resources and volunteer numbers are tight we must find ways to be more efficient and effective with what we have. By continuously learning we can find out what we should be doing, what others are doing, how we can do things better, and learn how to measure your impact to show you’re making a difference. VSNS Spring training kicks off in March:
There are lots of other ways to learn new skills through webinars, podcasts and blog posts from a wide variety of organisations – here are resources I use on a regular basis:
Did you know that thanking someone for a donation within 48 hours makes it 400% more likely that they will donate to you again? Research shows not being thanked continues to be the most common reason people give for not making further donations to an organisation.
You spend a considerable amount of time and budget finding donors – shouldn’t you spend as much time making sure they stick with you?
Thanking donors should not be a chore, it should be a genuine recognition of their gift. Lack of appreciation is bad manners and a waste of an excellent opportunity to start a conversation. This is your best chance to tell your story, explain what the donation will mean for your beneficiaries and build a relationship with the donor.
NCVO survey found that 70% of donors felt that the thank you was important but that many acknowledgements were dull and predictable. What a shame!
There are lots of great examples out there but the principles are:
Treating donors as long-term partners who share your passion for the cause will go a long way in securing further support and hopefully repeat donations.
Have a look at an excellent example from Charity: water
Good Neighbours voluntary organisations are run by local people for local people.
All groups offer a helping hand to the less able and vulnerable in our North Surrey community, providing both practical help, with tasks and emotional help through befriending schemes or social activities. Most offer transport to medical appointments, library or prescription collections or a hand with the shopping.
All of the groups in our area reach out to isolated people and each group operates in their own way, to deliver what is needed in our community.
Jean lives in New Haw and has been a client of New Haw and Woodham Good Neighbours for six years. Jean told us “The volunteer drivers have done so much for me. They took me to see my mother in her nursing home and they take me to the hospital or to the doctors. I know that Good Neighbours are just a phone call away and they are happy to take me anywhere.”
There are over 100 voluntary good neighbour schemes in Surrey all looking for volunteers
The beauty of being a volunteer for a Good Neighbours scheme is the flexibility. One of New Haw and Woodham Good Neighbours volunteers Jack explained why he became a volunteer driver
“It’s so simple! New Haw and Woodham Good Neighbours will give me a list of driving jobs and I just accept those that I can fit into my schedule.”
This is a unique and direct way to help others in your community by improving neighbourly spirit and goodwill. Volunteers also tell us about how they enjoy being part of a team and that they’ve made new friends and combatted their own loneliness and isolation.