By Chris Martin, Founding Director
As the festive celebrations are in full swing, it seems fitting to take a moment to reflect on the last year and consider what the next twelve months might hold.
With political affairs, scandals and a host of natural disasters, 2017 will certainly be one for the history books. On a personal level I will remember the year for quite different reasons and as one of the most challenging and rewarding years, I wanted to self-indulgently share my experience of the year.
I kicked the year of with a New Year’s Day swim in the Irish Sea, supporting the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. I was rather excited to be taking part in it all, but it did include some slight moments of embarrassment, as I was in a wetsuit and the 88-year-old lady next to me was only sporting a bikini! This really struck me in a metaphorical sense; the year ahead may be hard and challenging, but it was important to just go for it and get it done.
We settled into new offices early in 2017, located in Manchester and it was around this time Sport England announced their first allocated funding for volunteering. This was an exciting proposition for the sector, finally, the hard work and development had become recognised at a national level.
For me, the start of the year had a different kind of excitement and anticipation. My second child, George was born on the 6th of February and as much a bundle of happiness he is, I have not managed a solid 8 hours sleep since. The following months seemed to flash by and before I realised, we were in May.
TeamKinetic joined Altius Sports and British Cycling in launching the HSBC City Ride, a fantastic series of participation events. The same month also saw our first major update to TeamKinetic’s volunteer management software which introduced a host of new features and updates.
This all happened just in time for our annual Volunteering Conference which TeamKinetic runs in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University. Amongst the guests, we welcomed industry leaders, our beloved clients and our first international delegates from Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme.
With Yvonne Harrison, CEO of Greater Sport, as compère the stage first welcomed Carwyn Young of Sport Wales, Jenny Betteridge of Sport England and Emma Boggis from the Sport Recreational Alliance. Discussing the differences between borders, acknowledging the similarities and noting the importance of a national volunteer strategy created an insightful talk. Chris Jones, CEO of England Athletics closed the event in the most entertaining fashion, sharing his family’s experience volunteering, and how that has influenced his perspective and the strategic direction of England Athletics.
The event was a big success and was a brilliant platform to share how organisations are developing volunteering. This video by Sport Wales is a brilliant example of how to motivate volunteers.
A week after the conference was my wedding – I clearly forgot to check my diary when planning both events. June became an extremely busy and stressful month, but my fiance was not accepting my excuse of being too busy to get my suit fitted. Thankfully both events went without a hitch and I didn’t look too shabby on the big day.
More good news arrived in the form of a pilot project with England Athletics, naming us as its selected partner to better manage officials, events and volunteers. We will be sharing more on this in the New Year.
TeamKinetic went international in 2017. Our first overseas customer was Africa Pearl, who we collaborated with to deliver a fantastic project in the Gauteng Province. This ambitious project took mentors into schools, with the aim of addressing the behavioural and social drivers of HIV/AIDS and TB. The programme is designed to constructively engage out-of-school youth in supporting learners in schools and consequently offering these young people a living and long-term future. The programme will also up skill and provide practical experience resulting in a recognised qualification, thereby empowering all those involved.
Our second international customer was from the USA. Humanity Road use innovative technology and social listening platforms to connect people, animals and emergency officials with help and resources when disaster strikes. It provides impacted areas, often overwhelmed in confusion, with a lifeline to services that otherwise can be impossible to access. Using TeamKinetic’s volunteer management software, Humanity Road manages a voluntary workforce that supports the work of local officials and emergency response teams.
Closer to home TeamKinetic welcomed many new organisations that were keen to manage volunteers in a better way. TeamKinetic began working alongside Energize CSP, Cannock Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles, Monmouthshire County Council and an expanded the work at Glasglow Life to include all aspects of their work
We continue our mission to be the best volunteer management software and community platform in the world, resulting in some big developments this year. This included the iOS and Android Apps for the mobiles; a newly developed interface to Salesforce; Integration into Do-it.org; and a new functional API allowing our customers to access their data and integrate with their existing software.
What I have learnt from 2017 is that even in a world challenged by austerity, Brexit and Trump (to name a few), there is still a huge amount of positivity, created by the good will and positive nature of us all. This is evident in the time, effort and support individuals continue to provide to the causes they care for.
As I look towards 2018, I feel energised knowing that we can continue to make a difference in our communities and in the causes we care. We need to continue reminding ourselves and others of the importance to help others and realise the larger social responsibility we each have.
The next year already has promised to bring just as much excitement and nervousness as the last. TeamKinetic has some big projects already planned, that we look forward to officially announcing in the New Year. On a personal level, I am not planning as many life milestones but hope to enjoy those days of significance with my family, with a few Birthdays and my first anniversary to add to the list.
The political climate might look to be more challenging than last year, which I did not think possible, but I believe the balance will return. I am regularly reassured by the regular act of selflessness that I am frequently reminded of through my work.
On that note, I would like to thank you for joining TeamKinetic through 2017 and the team here would like to extended a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.