volunteers

open for business (1)

Open for Business

Many of our local charities have a new ‘normal’ – adapting their existing services so they can be accessed virtually and creating new online services for their users.

It may look different, but they are still there to help and still able to offer support to our community.

We’ve been talking to local charities who are ‘open for business’ and finding out how they have changed and adapted. Take a look at what the Runnymede, Spelthorne and Surrey Heath groups are doing.

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Don’t Stop Fundraising!

Charities still need to raise money – incomes have been drastically hit but the demand for services are increasing.

  • Go digital – over the last few years I’ve encouraged you to introduce digital fundraising as part of your fundraising strategy. Now more than ever your website should reflect what your charity is doing in the community, with good news stories of business as usual or how your services have evolved because of COVID. Use all the avenues available via links from your website – donation pages, Facebook donate, Instagram donate, Amazon Smile and charity shopping fundraising sites such as EasyFundraising.  Hold virtual events using video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Google Hangouts Meet or virtual sporting events using sports platforms such as Strava.
  • Get personal – use this time to send direct personalised messages to your existing supporters and tell them what the pandemic means for your charity in terms of your finances, delivering your services, beneficiaries, staff and volunteers. Ask your trustees to talk directly to your funders to ensure they are aware of your financial situation, they may be in a position to extend your funding or help you reapply for different streams.
  • This is an emergency – if you are in real trouble, now is the time to tell your supporters and community that you will not survive without their support. Highlight what closure will mean for your beneficiaries – now is the time for an emergency appeal. To avoid saturation and donor fatigue why not think about having a joint campaign with other local charities.

COVID is not going to be over – even after lockdown is lifted. The emotional fallout will impact on the community for years to come. Fundraising will not be the same and we will all have to learn new skills to survive.

https://www.strava.com/

https://charitydigital.org.uk/topics/topics/the-best-online-fundraising-platforms-for-charities-5324

https://fundraising.co.uk/2020/03/30/virtual-fundraising-ideas-during-the-coronavirus-lockdown/

https://www.techradar.com/uk/best/best-video-conferencing-software

 

 

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Always looking on the bright side of life ….

Under Covid-19 lockdown the voluntary landscape changed dramatically almost overnight. But despite the necessary suspension of face-to-face services, community spirit has fought back – and improvised. With fantastic new Covid-19 support groups being set up in most areas to localise help with shopping and prescriptions, many of the established voluntary groups have also revamped their offer through both online and telephone contact.

Camberley Care for example was forced to cease its neighbourhood driving service as a precautionary measure for its volunteers’ wellbeing but instead has organised its team to support all regular clients by ensuring they receive friendly chats each week and are linked up to Surrey Heath Prepared, the new Covid-19 hub across the borough.

Another inspirational story is Surrey Heath Age Concern which has similarly set up a support network for its regulars with their befrienders continuing to maintain contact with their clients over the phone with friendship and practical essentials. Staff are also working in partnership with Surrey Heath Prepared to combat loneliness through telephone befriending.

The Time to Talk befriending service that normally offers visits to anyone over 18 has adopted a similar strategy moving to telephone and online calls to keep in touch. Elaine Hawes, the Time to Talk manager, says:  “I am really proud of our volunteer befrienders who have continued to support the people they usually visit with phone calls and text messages and with practical things such as collecting shopping and prescriptions. They have been such a source of support at a difficult time”.

In Lightwater the Lightwater Resilience Plan grew out of a merge between the already existing, successful LIVE group and Windlesham Parish Council. One of the group leaders Windsor Rackham said “We have pulled together over 300 volunteers to make contact with, and look after, all 2700 households in Lightwater with shopping, prescription collection, and helping to resolve all the many issues surrounding self-isolation and long periods of quarantining”.  LRP have linked to Surrey Heath Prepared for the duration of the corvid-19 pandemic in order to access their food bank facility and the security checks on new volunteers, demonstrating the power of combining voluntary resources at this difficult time.

With Covid-10 support groups being overwhelmed by offers of volunteers we can only hope that after coronavirus is past, every cloud really does have a silver lining and this revived community spirit will carry on.

Hunter and me

Why do I volunteer for Brooklands Museum?

I have been a volunteer at Brooklands Museum for nearly a decade. Initially I just did one Saturday afternoon per fortnight, I now do much more. My first role was as a Steward. Stewards are the people you see in the exhibit areas, talking and listening to visitors and answering their questions. Now I do a much broader range of activities.

At first, all I brought to the role was an enthusiasm for, and fascination about, motoring and aviation. I had little in the way of knowledge and skills. That did not matter because I very soon learned a great deal. Some learning was through structured training by Brooklands, much was informal, through talking with other volunteers. I have always found other volunteers to be very generous in sharing their knowledge and skills. I have also learned a surprising amount from visitors.

On retiring, I had more time available and got involved in other activities, This included some basic work on historic aircraft. I learned how to safely strip and prepare an aircraft for re-painting, including how to avoid causing damage to the fabric and to myself. I have now started an Aviation Heritage Skills course, run and funded for volunteers by Brooklands, opening up a whole new area of knowledge and skills, in my ‘Third Age’!

My other roles have varied from car park marshalling on event days to providing Guided Tours for people ranging from aviation specialists, to a history society to a Women’s Institute group.

So why do I do it? I have found many benefits, including:

  • Meeting new people with a massive range of interesting backgrounds.
  • Retaining and interest and involvement with cars, motorcycles and aircraft.
  • Getting huge amounts of appreciation and feedback from visitors of all ages.
  • On retiring, keeping my brain alive through learning and developing new skills.
  • Making some contribution to the education, information and entertainment that it is the mission of Brooklands Museum to provide to all types and ages of people.
  • Helping to give people with special needs a fun day out.
  • Being involved in a highly successful and award winning organisation.

This is just my view. Other volunteers do it for many different reasons and carry out many different roles, from library archiving to gardening. There is a role just for you.

If you think this could be the volunteering role for you – why not call Sue Lewin on 01932 857381, ext. 242  or email her on suelewin@brooklandsmuseum.com

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Is Twitter a Good Tool for Nonprofits?

Twitter has around 330 million monthly active users – that’s a huge audience for your charity so how can you make it work for you?

We are always looking for new ways to use social media to extend our reach and tell our stories. Twitter is a great platform for attracting an audience quickly, allowing you to publicise volunteer roles and direct donors and supporters to your website. It’s also great for starting conversations and establishing your expertise.

To be successful on Twitter your charity needs to be doing several things in the right way.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Content – Don’t just tweet for the sake of it. To stand out from the Twitter crowd make your posts unique to your organisation and what your audience is interested in. Ask questions to promote engagement and use images/videos that are relevant and will appeal. Make your tweets human by telling your story and the stories of your beneficiaries and volunteers.
  • Who to follow – Follow influencers in your own area such as local government, councillors and other charities (local and national) Note who they follow and the hashtags they use in their tweets.
  • Use Hashtags # to reach a targeted audience. The biggest benefit of using twitter is the ability to put hashtags # in your posts allowing you to broadcast to people interested in specific topics. If you’re not sure which hashtags to include, look at the tags in tweets of other charities or use a tool like ingramer which gives a list of relevant hashtags for keywords/images. Twitter also shows trending hashtags for particular events or awareness days. Be careful to search a hashtag in the twitter search box before using it to avoid embarrassment.
  • Get attention with Mentions @ – When you mention another Twitter account in one of your tweets they’ll get a notification and if your tweet is interesting or beneficial to them they may retweet your post or mention you back.
  • Focus on getting retweeted – 78% of engagement with your tweets will be through retweets so make your tweets ‘retweetable’ by inserting links to posts and articles on your website and to interesting content from other sources. Retweet content from partnership organisations that you respect and value to encourage them to retweet yours.
  • Use Visuals – Images are more impactful than words and also not included in the Twitter word count! Make your Twitter image the correct size 506×253 pixels and use a tool like canva to create a single image with your message. Canva allows you to export your created image in the right size to each of your social media platforms.
  • Use tools to simplify media management – We use Hootsuite to manage our social media outputs but there are others like TweetDeck or Buffer
  • Analyse your twitter performance – Twitter have a great analytics tool that shows your performance over the last 28 days. It gives top tweets, mentions, retweets, new followers and many many more statistics and graphs, but even using the most basic stats will inform your future content and improve your tweeting.

Remember that Twitter is a place to connect and have meaningful conversations. Think about what your audience wants to know, not what you want them to know. Use visuals and humour, even if your cause is serious. If you’d like help with anything social media related please contact us info@voluntarysupport.org.uk and follow us on @volsupportns

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Start a Conversation

We are midway through National Conversation Week, a week in which we are challenged to try a little harder to engage with those around us; to start a conversation. Most of us are guilty of sending a text, writing an email or searching online, rather than speaking with someone, but for those of us experiencing loneliness, this online world can increase feelings of social isolation.

Loneliness impacts people of all ages and stages of life, it does not discriminate.

Around 15% of working age people and a similar number of 65-70 year olds, reported feeling lonely in a recent study. Reports of loneliness in the 17-25 age range are as high as 43%.

Loneliness can have a significant impact on our health and well being, on a par with smoking 15 cigarettes a day and costs the NHS £1.8 billion a year. It is easy to do something to help.

Talking to one another is rewarding, interesting and fun. Why not to spend this week trying a little harder to talk with people around you. Chat to the person next to you at the bus stop, catch up with old friends or call in on an elderly neighbour.

You can make a longer term difference by being a befriender in our local community so get in touch with alison@voluntarysupport.org.uk or elaine@voluntarysupport.org.uk to find out more.

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Runnymede Foodbank Need You!

12 months after rollout of Universal credit, food banks have see a 52% increase in demand.

Last year Runnymede food bank gave 1,281 three-day emergency food parcels to local people in crisis and the demand for food and the numbers of clients continues to rise.

Food poverty is a real problem in our community and you can do something about it.

Runnymede food bank need more volunteer drivers to help their delivery team complete weekly deliveries. Volunteers pick up and deliver crates of food on the mornings of the 2nd & 4th Wednesday of each month.

If this is something you can do – help the food bank here

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Amigo Success!

We are delighted with the success of our Amigo project and wanted to share with you the story of one client who has had a positive experience.

‘We received a referral for an individual who was suffering from anxiety and seeking support to go out and attend community activities. She felt isolated during the day as she does not work. Overall, this lady has a good support network but needed extra help to boost her confidence and increase her motivation to leave the house.  We matched this client with a volunteer who agreed to accompany her to attend a weekly support group.  As this individual was not comfortable travelling independently, the volunteer buddy arranged to meet her at the end of the road and accompany her to the group.  We matched the individual with a volunteer who had had a similar experience and had attended the same support group.  The client’s increased confidence encouraged her to try a different social group and enabled her to travel there by bus.  “The best thing about Amigo was being able to find a group where I felt I fitted in.  This has helped me to feel less isolated”.

It’s been really encouraging for our team and volunteers to have such positive outcomes and we really believe Amigo is making a difference to people’s lives in North Surrey so if you know of anyone who might benefit from an Amigo buddy or alternatively if you would like to volunteer to become a buddy, then please get in touch with Laura or Lynnette on 01276 707565 or email buddy@voluntarysupport.org.uk

 

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Christmas Fundraising Campaigns

It’s official! People give more to charities at Christmas – CAF research suggests a total amount donated for 2017 of £10.3 billion with the highest month of giving in December.

The urgency of Christmas is an ideal way to connect with your supporters and encourage them to engage in as many ways as possible: volunteering, campaigning, fundraising and attending events, via email and phone. It’s also a great way to reach new supporters, so if you are planning a Christmas campaign, take a look at these practical tips from experienced fundraisers.

You need to be clear about what it is that you want to get from a Christmas campaign. Whether it’s fundraising or recruiting volunteers, getting your message right before you start with campaign mechanics is important. Show why you need support particularly at this time of year. Tell real stories (from last year) about the problems your organisation solved and what difference donations made to people’s lives. Making your Christmas story impactful is crucial – tell your audience what the problem is an how you are fixing it with their help – have a look at how to tell your fundraising story for practical tips and a template.

Now you must decide which channels to use. Websites should be the centre of any fundraising campaign, with the campaign stories (updated weekly) and clear instructions on how to donate and how a donor can make a difference. Post every day on Twitter and Facebook in December and make your tweets and posts count by using actual photos of your beneficiaries or better still – moving images – GIFs or video. Creating video using your phone has never been easier with lots of information on YouTube and the internet on how to do it. We’ve been using a tool called Lumen5 and also Facebook stories to create little videos – if we can do it you can too!

24 days of content for website and social media is daunting but if you write a content plan and use a scheduling tools like Hootsuite or TweetDeck you’ll find sending multiple messages across different channels much easier. Be imaginative with snippets of information, personal stories, New Year plans and resolutions, reflections on the year past and a donation count of how much you have raised so far. Get inspiration from fundraising blogs

For email campaigns, keep the message succinct and poignant; try for 250 words or less. Weekly updates on a shorter message can keep the momentum more effectively than a single lengthy email. Try to personalise if you can to stand out from other Christmas appeals. Email subjects are just as important – avoid the spam filter by not using language like ‘free’, capitalised words or exclamation marks and remember only to send to those who have given permission.

And most importantly, make it easy to give. Bold and hyperlink key phrases and sentences to your website donation button. It’s crucial to have a seamless donation process in place —don’t make your willing donors work hard just to give you money. This process needs to be mobile friendly too, or you’re leaving money on the table.

Finally, keep one thing at the front of your mind: this time of year needs to be all about your donors so remember to tell them how the campaign went and to THANK them for their donations and support.

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