volunteers

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The Joys of Spring (Training)

Over the next 5 weeks we are offering free training to local voluntary organisations as part of our Spring training program. Our goal is to support you and grow the charity sector in North Surrey and we believe that giving you skills through training to fundraise, manage and recruit volunteers and maintain a strong board of trustees is fundamental to your success. 

Why is training important? 

 All too often in the nonprofit world, budget constraints force us to make hard choices between day to day funding of projects and training for employees and volunteers. It may not just be a question of cost, you may not even have time to attend training. We believe that if you measure the outcomes from educating your staff and volunteers as they relate to your organisational goals then money and/or time spent on training is well spent. 

 You may need to recruit a strong board, increase fundraising, embrace digital or retain more volunteers. That makes training in these subjects a good investment for the people expected to realise these goals and this is the training you should prioritise.  

The success of any organisation is due to its people, and that’s particularly true in the case of the charity sector. During these difficult times, you can show their commitment to staff and volunteers by upskilling those who champion the cause and really contribute to helping your organisation achieve its vision.  

 Through training, the need for supervision decreases and your staff and volunteers will make better decisions on their own and solve problems more effectively. Training helps develop leadership talent and communication skills, it decreases fear in attempting new tasks and enables handling of stress, frustration and conflicts. These factors give people a chance to perform better which results in developing feelings of satisfaction in their role.Training develops talents and capabilities which ensure that everyone makes a contribution towards your long term goals. 

 Who to train? 

 Most training is considered for new volunteers or employees and it is good to invest in development of their skills so that they can increase their contribution. But ongoing training of current employees/volunteers is as important since it helps them to adapt their daily routine work according to changing requirements, improves their performance on current role and prepares them for an intended role. Importantly, training inspires new thinking which helps to reduce resistance to change.  

 Why not ask your employees and volunteers to identify training they think would help them in their role. Ask them how they would use the learned knowledge/skills/confidence, how these would benefit the team and how they would share the knowledge.  

 If you only have the money or time to send one person on a course, there are useful things you can do: 

  •  Ask the person who is going on the course to give feedback to other colleagues, share important lessons and any handouts or templates. This also allows the attendee to review and reinforce their learning, meaning that it’s more likely to have an impact.  
  •  Contact a training provider and see if they can come and deliver the training specifically for your team – it is often cheaper. You could also think about sharing a trainer with another voluntary group with similar training needs. 

 What are your training options? 

 Excitingly, there are an increasing number of training options: 

  •  We offer face to face training in one of our three offices on the subjects of fundraising, social media, volunteer recruitment and management and governance. There are also a number of local options offered by other volunteer centres and the Surrey Skills Academy. 
  •  Why not set up (or join) an informal network to find peer support where questions, problems and advice are shared and discussed. 
  •  E-learning is an accessible way for staff to learn. Some infrastructure organisations are offering bite-size and accessible training for smaller organisations to access as and when they need it. Have a look at Media Trust, NCVO KnowHow and the Small Charities Coalition. 
  •  As part of their corporate social responsibility, some of the larger search engine and social media platforms offer free training such a google Digital Garage and Facebook Blueprint and don’t forget YouTube with its many ’how to’ videos. 
  •  Webinars can help geographically isolated charities or those short of time and low on office cover. You don’t even need to participate – just sign in, listen and learn. 

 Finally, use your social media to find blogs to follow – ask other groups what information fills their inboxes and have a look. We suggest MediaTrust, Third SectorHubspotNCVO, White FuseUK Fundraising to get you started.

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Social Prescribing

What is it?

Social prescribing helps people with a range of social and physical problems to access local services provided by the voluntary sector. It’s a way for them to connect to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support.

Long term, it reduces health demand on GP practices and hospital admissions, since it’s estimated that about 20% of patient consultations are for social rather than medical problems. Rather than writing a medical prescription, doctors refer some of their patients to a social prescribing service which provides a non medical solution such as activities with local volunteer groups. Connecting with the community is good for an individual’s health and could potentially lead to big cost savings for the health service.

What are Voluntary Support North Surrey doing? 

Since 2015, our social prescribing project in Surrey Heath has had 587 clients and have generated 909 referrals for a social prescription to local voluntary organisations and groups. From our experience the biggest referral group is for befriending, which is not surprising given the national statistics for loneliness. Over 9 million people in the UK – almost a fifth of the population – say they are always or often lonely.

Does social prescribing work?

Evidence suggests that social prescribing leads to a range of positive health and well-being outcomes. Studies in Bristol and Rotherham have found improvements in anxiety levels, feelings about general health and quality of life and a reduction in the use of NHS services.

From our own experience, we have found that social prescribing is a very powerful tool running in conjunction with statutory services. It helps support vulnerable members of our North Surrey society become less isolated, give them more support with health and home situations. Most importantly, social prescribing connects and reintegrates people in their communities and gives them hope.

We’ve had great outcomes for our residents. Recently an elderly couple in Ash Vale in their late 80s and both with chronic ill health conditions were referred by their GP to our social prescribing project. We registered the couple with Crossroads for respite care and referred to Sight for Surrey to provide specialist equipment. They were also connected to an Age UK befriending service to reduce isolation.

What can you do?

We need volunteers! All of the voluntary organisations who we refer to need volunteers or donations. There’s a huge range of ways you can be a volunteer. You could be a driver for a local good neighbour organisation and offer a transport lifeline for members of our community no longer able to drive. Citizens Advice Bureau advisors give financial guidance to people stressed and anxious about money or employment. Dementia support groups and community organisations offering respite, social events and activities also urgently need volunteers. We have a new befriending project called Time to Talk which has a waiting list of people who need a friend.

Get involved and take part in social prescribing to make real difference – contact alison@voluntarysupport.org.uk

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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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