TeamKinetic

Build better volunteer communities

Category: Policy and Operations

Why TeamKinetic has gone mobile

As TeamKinetic makes it iOS application available to its customers and existing volunteers, we discuss the evidence that has driven this change and our hopes of making volunteering even more accessible.

The march of technology is relentless, and the pressure on organisations in sport and the 3rd sector to offer multi-channel and multi-platform solutions to better engage with their stakeholders continues to grow as they compete for attention against a sea of other content. These trends mean that making TeamKinetic available on mobile was essential.

mobile usage by country – Comscore

The data shows that the time spent on mobile has surpassed that spent on other web-enabled devices, and this trend is consistent in developed and developing economies. It is not a case of “if mobile is important?”, but to acknowledge its predominance in the decision-making process for future development.

Dominance of multi-platform applications

The evidence is clear; consumers now expect a multi-platform product that allows them to switch between the different versions of the platform, undertaking some tasks on their desktop and others on their phone or tablet. With other data suggesting these browsing choices are time of day dependent.

on-line device usage by time of day

When looking at how to engage with your audience, in our case volunteers. We have to accept these trends and offer a product that can cater to the desires and expectations of the user.

Using the mobile platform, both in its native application format and via the mobile browser, not only have we been able to increase the potential reach and time available to browse, we can also access additional functionality.

The use of GPS and geo-location services, open-auth protocols to make signing in and staying signed in easier and using the camera or address book are all examples of technologies that work particularly well on a phone to improve customer experience. Our founding belief at TeamKinetic is to always keep the volunteer and their experience central to our design philosophy, so the decision to create the app was easy to make.

This is our first step of many as a truly multi-platform company, no doubt we have plenty to learn if we want to recreate our desktop experience on a much smaller device, but working with our customers, that’s our ambition. The rewards for success for our customers, the Sports Clubs, charities and communities are potential too great to ignore.

We must constantly challenge ourselves to look at our organisations and consider how well we provide services and how accessible they are. We must push to deliver to stakeholders the experience they have come to expect.

TeamKinetic products will provide that level of service at a fraction of the cost of in-house development.  Please get in touch to see a demo of our system and how it might improve your stakeholder engagement, build your community and change your world.

Volunteering Internships

afp-volunteer

As always we look to bring you the best practice from across the Voluntary sector.  This article from the NCVO gives some fantastic guidance on Internships for Volunteer managers.

As more organisations have realised the value of offering young people the opportunity to gain experience, whilst benefiting from their willingness to work hard and learn, it is becoming event more important that organisations do not take advantage of this willingness.  The NCVO offer some common sense advice that ensures the Volunteer is valued and that they gain as much from the experience as the organisation does.

If you have examples of how your organisation has benefited from a Volunteer internship or lessons you may have learnt from using Volunteers as interns please feel free to share at info@smarterindesign.com.

See the full article and many more like it at

http://knowhownonprofit.org/people/volunteers-and-your-organisation/volunteering-internships#guidance

NCVO have worked with a range of organisations to review the current situation and produce guidance on volunteer internships to help charities ensure they fully understand any legal obligations they may have and to ensure expectations about the role between both parties are clear.

Internships have been the focus of much debate recently, with some arguing that they are either a form of job substitution or a way of exploiting cheap labour, and others that they are vital to both charities and those who want to work for them.

Much of the confusion comes from the fact that the term ‘intern’ has no basis in UK law. There is no legal definition of an ‘internship’. So people undertaking a role described as an ‘internship will still in legal terms be defined as either a worker or a volunteer.

Some charities describe some volunteer roles as internships as they have found it valuable to offer volunteering opportunities with a stronger skill-development focus and because describing a position as an ‘internship’ has been found to attract more volunteers.

NCVO have worked with a range of organisations to review the current situation and produce guidance on volunteer internships to help charities ensure they fully understand any legal obligations they may have and to ensure expectations about the role between both parties are clear.

The guidance also identifies key principles to follow to help ensure volunteer internships are managed in line with good practice, give a good quality experience and ensure volunteer interns are treated fairly and within the law.

Key principles

  1. Be clear what the role is and its purpose before recruiting
  2. Ensure that a volunteer internship is a genuine volunteering opportunity
  3. Make sure volunteering opportunities are genuinely inclusive and accessible
  4. Support volunteer interns in accordance with good practice standards in volunteer management
  5. Ensure that volunteer intern positions do not undermine fair recruitment procedures
  6. Provide opportunities for evaluation and regular feedback
  7. Recognise the contribution of volunteer interns

More information on each principle and how to implement them is discussed in the guidance.

http://knowhownonprofit.org/people/volunteers-and-your-organisation/ncvoguidancevolunteerinternshipsvoluntarysector.pdf

 

The public sector needs to realise the voluntary sector does not mean free

The original article can be found at

http://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network/2015/feb/08/public-sector-realise-voluntary-sector-not-mean-free?CMP=share_btn_tw

NHS hospital sign

Volunteers are helping to support hospitals during this time of increased demand. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

Last month the NHS crisis made headlines and it wasn’t a last-minute surprise to some of us in the charity sector. In December I received an email from the local clinical commissioning group, asking for urgent assistance to find volunteers to support the local hospital.

Among other things, they were looking for help to relieve pressure on the hospital being caused by increased demand for services and problems with the delayed discharging of patients. Volunteers were needed not just for “home from hospital” services and transport, but also for directly supporting nursing staff on the hospital’s wards.

Everyone knows that it’s a tough time for the voluntary and community sector. To be honest, it’s a pretty tough time for most people. By running a third-sector infrastructure support organisation, I see the issues every day and many smaller agencies are struggling to keep their show on the road. Although a great deal of important work is delivered across the public sector by volunteers, there are also many paid, highly-skilled specialists in the sector who provide the highest quality services, often in very specialised organisations. Even when volunteers are used to provide support there is still a cost for the organisations they work with.

Volunteers must be properly supported with supervision, management and training, not to mention other overheads such as insurance and safeguarding checks. All the things that go to make up a professional quality service that our communities deserve.

There continues to be a lack of understanding among those in government and service commissioning around the real cost of things when the voluntary sector comes to the rescue when things are difficult. It feels like some see it as a bit of a cut-price Black Friday approach to propping things up.

Four years of reduced funding have had a huge impact on everyone, but our sector has been hit particularly hard. Matters have been made worse by commissioners designing public service contracts in such a way which often prevent smaller, specialist organisations from being able to tender at all. There is now a very real danger that these same organisations that bring so much social value to the wider community may disappear altogether. Depressingly, it is often these same commissioners that are now requesting additional support from our sector to help stem the current NHS crisis.

Of course, the voluntary sector is always there to support the community – that’s the reason why we are so passionate about it and why we are working in it in the first place. But, it is long overdue for the sector to be taken more seriously. Rather than being seen as a merely supplementary amateur resource, there needs to be a recognition of the expert professionalism that exists, the level of activity that is delivered and a realistic understanding of how much it can cost to do what we do.

 

Safer Internet Day and Volunteer Kinetic

http://i.guim.co.uk/static/w-620/h–/q-95/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2015/2/9/1423486471808/31296a3f-9b2a-4ff2-a893-4581c5969d94-620×372.jpeg

VolunteerKinetic are proud to be part of Safer Internet day.  With just under a 1/3 of 11-16 years olds saying they have experience cruel behaviour on-line we wanted to take this opportunity to offer this advice when using VolunteerKinetic.

1.  Never meet anyone you speak to on the internet on your own, with out being very sure they are who they say they are.  If you are unsure contact the administrator and they can check for you.

2.  Don’t share extra personal information.  All the information the Opportunity provider needs is provided by the system.

3.  If you feel threatened or unsafe at any time using the Volunteer site, attending an opportunity or about any feedback left about your time Volunteering, contact the administrator immediately, it is confidential and they will listen to your concerns.

4.  Always make sure some one knows where you have gone to Volunteer.

If you follow these simple rules we think you should be safe and have a great Volunteer experience, but if you don’t, please tell and we can see what we can do.

Share your support with #Up2Us or #SID2015.

 

 

A review of the EC directive for SMS marketing and use in VolunteerKinetic

Know the rules

Know the rules

SMS marketing is considered an electronic form of communication. That means its use is governed by the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations. It may sound scary, but it really isn’t that hard to understand. However, I thought it worthwhile to go over the basics of the EC Directive to help you better understand what you can and can’t do with your SMS marketing.

In the warnings issued by the ICO, several key paragraphs from the EC Directive are quoted. They basically say that no one can send unsolicited messages to any individual without prior consent. It then goes on to state three criteria used to determine what consent means (from Regulation 22):

“A person may send or instigate the sending of electronic mail for the purposes of direct marketing where –

(a) that person has obtained the contact details of the recipient of that electronic mail in the course of the sale or negotiations for the sale of a product or service to that recipient;

(b) the direct marketing is in respect of that person’s similar products and services only; and

(c) the recipient has been given a simple means of refusing (free of charge except for the costs of the transmission of the refusal) the use of his contact details for the purposes of such direct marketing, at the time that the details were initially collected, and where he did not initially refuse the use of details, at the time of each subsequent communication.”

That is honestly a mouthful of words, but very important ones. Here’s a simple interpretation you can take when dealing with your Volunteers.

As long as you ask for consent when signing a Volunteer up to the VolunteerKinetic system, which you do as part of the terms and conditions. you can send that Volunteer text messages that are related to the service the volunteer undertakes.  For example, other voluntary opportunities and non-voluntary information that is similar to the Volunteering the person has undertook.  This could be a training course that is suitably matched to the volunteers area of voluntary experience, or other services as long as they are related to the Volunteering.

You can not send SMS messages about unrelated services or products, for example the opportunity to buy a holiday or book cinema tickets unless that was specifically related to the voluntary opportunity the volunteer signed up to.

Part c is important, as you must make it simple for the Volunteer to opt out of any future communications if they wish.

Following these rules will keep you  inside the law and hopefully will keep your Volunteers happy.  If you have any stories of Good / bad practice of how to use SMS messaging to increase Volunteer retention and recruitment please feel free to send them to me info@smarterindesign.com

 

 

 

 

Volunteer Health and Safety for beginners

volunteers helpingHealth and Safety, those dreaded words.  The reason to stop, an excuse not to do something.  I’m sure anyone who reads this blog gets that same sinking feeling when someone uses health and safety as an excuse to make sure something does not take place.  In the next few paragraphs I hope to share some of the useful information that over the last 5 or 6 years has been shared with the team here at VolunteerKinetic.

I must make it very clear from the very start;  I am not a health and safety expert and any advice I offer is either from other sources who I will aim to credit or my own experience. I also want to open this debate to other Volunteer Managers or those that have real Health and Safety experience. Please share you knowledge and best practise with our audience.  No advice will be ignored and all will be welcome.  Any one who wishes to correct any mistakes or offer further clarification can always e-mail me at info@smarterindesign.com and just put health and safety in the subject field and I will happily add to this post.

Volunteering by its very nature involves people undertaking roles and responsibilities that often lack clear description, they are not employed and as we have found, people have the most amazing ability to do the craziest things!  All this means you can take nothing for granted.

So what have we learnt whilst operating VolunteerKinetic?  From the point of view of a technology provider who talks on a very regular basis with those that work at the coal face with volunteers and opportunity providers day to day,  its never dull!

We must first establish some key distinctions so it is clear who is responsible or has a duty of care during the volunteer process (I will try and keep to a minimum the Health and Safety terminology).  I must also state that although this advice might be applicable to most volunteer situations it is written based on the volunteers being deployed via a VolunteerKinetic powered opportunity.

From the point of view of a volunteer manager who is brokering opportunities that are often provided by others, we think there are some important issues to consider.

Volunteers and opportunity providers must take all reasonable responsibility for their own health and safety.

This should be made clear in any code of conduct you create.

Although you are acting as a broker of opportunities, the responsibility (duty of care) for ensuring safety at a venue, location or during an activity is that of the opportunity provider.  They should have a risk assessment for the activity, public liability insurance to protect volunteers and the people they may come into contact with through the role, and policies and procedures in place that they make you aware of; such as fire evacuation procedure.  These basic responsibilities should not just extend to volunteers but all potential people who may be affected by the normal operation of the organisation and opportunity.

This does not fully exclude the broker form any responsibility, and in our opinion best practice on behalf of the programme administrator is to provide opportunity providers with guide lines. These should offer a set of operating standards an opportunity provider should meet.  University of Manchester Athletic Union have kindly offered to share their Health and Safety Checklist and Public Liability letter.  You can use or adapt these to your personal needs. We also suggest a provider code of conduct. This covers the more soft policies around effective volunteer management, and may include some of the following points:

  • Ensure some one is available to welcome volunteers, to offer a basic site induction and to be a point of contact whilst the volunteer is on site.
  • Make sure volunteers are aware of “comfort facilities” such as staff rooms, toilets and areas to get food or drink.
  • Try to speak to a volunteer before they leave, ask for feedback on their experience, and offer a thank you where appropriate for their help.

This is just a couple of ideas, that will hopefully ensure your volunteers stay safe and happy whilst working with your providers.

The End User Licence Agreement (EULA) that all volunteers agree to when they volunteer as part of a VolunteerKinetic system makes the following clear.

Do not arrange to meet strangers in strange places alone.  Ensure you check out who they are and you are happy to attend an opportunity.  If you are not sure contact the Administrator.

As people arvolunteer group hands togethere notoriously bad at reading Terms and Conditions we suggest to volunteer managers to make  this point clear to all volunteers, that to arrange to meet a stranger through the internet, even through this service, carries some risk and volunteers should do everything they can to ensure they know where and who they are meeting.

Similar advice should be given regarding what information people offer to share via the internet.  VolunteerKinetic is designed to help manage volunteer to provider connections.  Connections made outside the system can be dangerous and as a manager, impossible to track.  So we suggest that volunteers and providers use only the system to communicate.

If a volunteer or provider act in a way that is inappropriate or dangerous, do you as an administrator have a policy and procedures in place to manage complaints, respond to allegations and deal with incidents?

From an organisations perspective the volunteers are considered the same as any other person, do you have up to date policies and procedures, include Safeguarding and Health and Safety and do you have a way to ensure volunteers follow these procedures whilst they are under your management.

Many of these situations are extremely rare and a little forward planning and support from the system administrator can make it easy to share good practice amongst providers. Ensuring that the providers and volunteers follow the advice can be more difficult, but having open channels of communication means that problems are easily reported and dealt with.  Encouraging feedback from all participants we think offers a great way to keep on top of potential issues.

Health and safety is fraughtvolunteer 2 with potential difficulty, and is somewhat open to interpretation. It is with this in mind that I would like to share the following links that I have found useful whilst writing this article.  If I am able to leave you with any advice it’s that good procedures around setting up new opportunity providers and volunteers will ensure many issues can be identified early.  Secondly, talking to your providers and volunteers on a regular basis, using the feedback tools available through VolunteerKinetic will offer additional insight and help identify potential issues before they become serious.

 

Source Material

http://www.hse.gov.uk/voluntary/further-advice.htm

http://www.hse.gov.uk/voluntary/when-it-applies.htm

http://www.hse.gov.uk/voluntary/manage-low-risk.htm

http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/faqs/charities.htm

http://www.volunteering.org.uk/component/gpb/whatpaperworkdoineed&qh=YToyOntpOjA7czo2OiJoZWFsdGgiO2k6MTtzOjY6InNhZmV0eSI7fQ==

http://www.volunteering.org.uk/component/gpb/handbooksorpolicies&qh=YToyOntpOjA7czo2OiJoZWFsdGgiO2k6MTtzOjY6InNhZmV0eSI7fQ==

 http://www.volunteering.org.uk/component/gpb/riskassessment&qh=YToyOntpOjA7czo2OiJoZWFsdGgiO2k6MTtzOjY6InNhZmV0eSI7fQ==

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