voluntary groups

Loneliness Awareness Week 2022

Tackling loneliness through volunteering

It is Loneliness Awareness Week, created and hosted by The Marmalade Trust. Loneliness is a normal feeling, with one in five people in the UK feeling lonely.

Evidence shows that loneliness can affect people’s mental and physical health. People are naturally social; feeling connected with, and giving to, others is a key factor of our emotional well-being.

The best way to combat loneliness is to talk with someone and volunteering is a great way to do this. We know that volunteering gives people a sense of community and that volunteers experience a physiological response to doing good. Meeting others and being part of a team all help increase people’s sense of well-being.

There are a number of local organisations that are in need of befrienders and other support roles which aim to support people who may feel lonely. Our own Time to Talk service in Surrey Heath has volunteer befrienders who are matched with people in the local community.

If you’re interested in finding out more about volunteering, take a look at the volunteering opportunities on our website or call us on 01932 571122.

If you’re feeling lonely, the NHS Every Mind Matters and Healthy Surrey websites both have useful tips and information.

Drop In service (2)

New drop-in sessions for Ukrainians and their hosts

Voluntary Support North Surrey (VSNS) has launched a new service for Ukrainian refugees and their host families, in partnership with Runnymede Borough Council. The weekly drop-in is held every Tuesday from 12.30pm until 2pm at Revive Coffee Shop, 99 Guildford Street, in Chertsey.

The drop-in gives people an opportunity to get together in a relaxed environment, where they can meet others and share stories, information and support.

At the sessions, VSNS will also get a steer from those attending about what the most pressing needs are for both hosts and their guests, with the aim of working with local services to provide services that meet those needs.

Solette Sheppardson, VSNS CEO, explained, “We know that people are keen to meet fellow Ukrainians but also need assistance as they begin to settle in to living in Surrey, including help with speaking English and getting ready to work. We have developed the drop-in to provide a place for people to meet but also as a way to support them to reach other services. We are keen to hear from local organisations that are supporting refugees so that we can signpost people to their services.

“So far, we have welcomed twelve Ukrainian families and individuals to these sessions and have already put other local hosts in touch.”

Organisations supporting refugees are asked to contact Jo Buckell at VSNS by calling 01932 571122 or emailing jo@voluntarysupport.org.uk

Volunteers' Week is from 1st to 7th June

Volunteers’ Week is fast approaching and this year it risks getting a little lost among all the Jubilee celebrations. It’s well worth putting some thought into how best to say thank you and showing volunteers how much they mean.  We all know volunteers aren’t doing it for the recognition, but a little thank you goes a long way in showing how much they are appreciated.

The Volunteers' Week website is a good starting point for ideas, but here at Voluntary Support North Surrey, we’ve also been thinking about how best to show your appreciation. Here are a few ideas that we hope may give you some inspiration as you plan your own ways to thank volunteers:

  1. Make it personal

Rather than sending a bulk email to all volunteers with a generic message of thanks, try to make things as personal as possible – giving recognition for what they have achieved. If you’re sending a card or a certificate to them, maybe mention the number of hours or shifts they have worked over the past year, or the personal relationships they have built with service users – something that reflects what they personally have brought to your organisation.

  1. Keep it green

Everyone loves to keep things as planet-friendly as possible.  How about planting some seeds in empty toilet rolls and giving volunteers a home-grown tomato plant that is all ready to transplant into their own garden? or a houseplant they can enjoy? We love these personalised seed packets from Etsy if you do have a little budget to burn - but we’re sure you could make something similar for free - 10 Thank You Flowers Personalised Seed Packets | Etsy UK

  1. Shout about the difference they have made

Often volunteers are making a huge difference to individuals, but they may be the last ones to hear about it. If you’ve had some wonderful feedback from your service users, make that the centrepiece of any thanks you share with your volunteers, and think about sharing this on social media too.

  1. Make it fun

Volunteering can be a serious business, but this offers a great opportunity for some fun too. Maybe it’s a chance to create a light-hearted thank you video. Here’s some inspiration from our friends across the pond - https://youtu.be/eCSvXMTe1oY

  1. It’s all in the presentation

You don’t need a big budget to show your thanks. Some careful preparation and something homemade such as a simple paper bag with a handwritten gift tag and some thoughtful words is all you need.  For some ideas on wording or small gifts, look here - https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/280630620521058262/

  1. Partner with local businesses

Are there local businesses that might be willing to offer a small thank you gift for free? Perhaps a local coffee shop is willing to give a free coffee or cake to your volunteers on their next visit, or maybe a sports centre will offer them a free gym session. It is worth looking in your area to see if there could be a willing donor (it might help to raise your organisation’s profile too!).

We’d love to hear about how you plan to thank your volunteers this year and what works well for you. Email us with your volunteer week plans.

 

Why charities need a Newsletter

Why do I need a charity newsletter?

Nonprofit newsletters get some of the best average open rates in email marketing (26%). Newsletters provide important opportunities to showcase the work you do, make appeals for donations and other support and raise awareness of the problems your charity tackles. Use your newsletter to connect with donors and volunteers, encouraging them to take action.

Email drives more charitable donations than any other online channel. 42% of donors prefer to hear from causes they support by email, 20% of donors said that emails made them more likely to donate again and 69% of subscribers said they were more likely to donate after receiving an appeal for a specific need.

Everyone gets more emails than they can ever read. A typical email receives no more than 15 seconds of attention - so make yours stand out. Use images, a good subject line and engaging opening paragraph. If a reader is not interested at the opening of your newsletter, they won’t read what comes later.

What else should you do?

  • ensure that your newsletter can be read on a mobile device.
  • personalise (use recipient names)
  • all non-profit newsletters should include a call to action - usually a request for donations, volunteers or an ask to social share
  • keep text to a minimum and focus on 1-5 stories or calls-to-action
  • have your donate button and social media icons at the top of the newsletter
  • enable social sharing
  • use images and video screenshots linking to your website or YouTube
  • send on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday - avoid Mondays and Fridays

Finally, remember you cannot email anyone without their permission, but you can build your email list by:

  • have a subscribe button on your website
  • promote through conversations with supporters
  • run a specific list building social media campaign
  • offer donors the option to subscribe in thank you messages

Subscribe to our e-news here!

More reading:

https://getanewsletter.com/en/blog/newsletter-introduction-examples-how-to-write-catchy-intros-for-your-newsletters/

http://www.thestorytellingnonprofit.com/blog/5-non-profit-newsletters-to-learn-from/

https://knowhow.ncvo.org.uk/campaigns/communications/e-newsletters

https://charitydigital.org.uk/topics/topics/everything-you-need-to-know-about-email-marketing-software-8734?

charity website

What does a good charity website look like?

The best charity websites are kind to users – not overloading them with choices or too much text, and instead making calls to action obvious and ensuring that users can easily find further information as needed. Here are our top tips to improve your site:

  • Give your website visitors what they want! Make your home page menu clear with no more than 6 options. Users need to be able to find what they need quickly so make your messages clear and concise to avoid overwhelming users with too much information. Guide Dogs is a great example of a clear, user friendly website with https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/
  • Be clear what your charity does, how website visitors can support you and what support means to the lives of your beneficiaries. Charity Water does this really well https://www.charitywater.org/uk
  • Use images for instant impact - donors respond to campaigns that feature a single, identifiable beneficiary. Care International UK has faces of beneficiaries on every page https://www.careinternational.org.uk/fighting-poverty
  • Make sure your website is device appropriate. You must consider how it's being viewed on smart phones, iPads and tablets. Comic Relief looks good on all devices https://www.comicrelief.com/rednoseday
  • Payment or sign-up processes should be as simple as possible. Not too many steps to complete and don't ask for unnecessary information in long winded forms.

More reading:

What Makes a Good Charity Website?

https://www.theukdomain.uk/what-makes-a-great-charity-website/

gaming for good (1)

Gaming for Good

Gaming and livestreaming were already big before the pandemic struck but participation has really taken off.  This is good news for charities because it gives us a new avenue for fundraising that appeals the generous Generation Z.

The idea may seem strange but gaming fundraisers are popular and effective https://fundraising.co.uk/2021/02/03/6-successful-gaming-for-good-livestreaming-campaigns/

How does it work?

Gamers share game playing with their friends and other gamers, who tune in to watch the game in action. This is called streaming and there are there are several platforms dedicated to gaming, the most popular is called Twitch, which was built specifically for streaming games. The gamer adds a donate buttons to their stream – like a donate button on a charity website which links to the gamer's fundraising page on a donation platform like JustGiving.

By hosting a donate button on screen, gamers engage their audience into making donations in return for gaming activity. A gamer could host a 24-hour gaming marathon or they could host a tournament with other gamers.

If you want your charity to run or help run a gaming fundraiser, try reaching out to local gaming communities or looking for gaming events that have occurred in your area. Maybe someone on your  charity team (volunteer/supporter/member of staff) has a passion for video games, and they can help organise hosting or participating in a gaming fundraiser. Look for gamers who might be interested in your cause https://charitydigital.org.uk/topics/topics/gaming-for-good-how-to-find-gamers-9003

More Reading:

Top tips for successful livestreaming and gaming for good

Just Giving Gaming

How to Get Started with Gaming Fundraising

Fundraising on Twitch

 

Impact Measurement Tools

Measuring Impact

You know that you are doing good things and your beneficiaries agree with you - but the only way to prove it is to set targets and collect data.

To inform your supporters, partners and funders you must measure what kind of difference you are making. Measuring your impact is essential and ensures you are achieving what you set out to achieve.

If you're new to impact measurement then go to the Inspiring Impact website and read about the impact assessment process and best practice. The Small Charities Coalition have put together a list some free and low cost impact measurement tools for when you're ready to get started:

impactasuarus.org

stateoflife.org

goodfinance.org

socialvalue.org/social-value-tools

outcomesstar.org.uk

measurewellbeing.org

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