Volunteering at its core is about human connections. Despite the forced lockdown and travel restrictions experienced over the past 12 months, the world has arguably never been a more connected place, largely due to technology.
With volunteering playing a critical part in local community engagement, as well as the more obvious social and economic benefits, increasing numbers of local governments are embracing technology as a means to help engage with their own communities.
That’s where Rosterfy comes in. We automate volunteer management, with software that helps with recruiting, scheduling, engaging and thanking volunteers. But persuading local governments to think differently about volunteering – through digital technologies – isn’t always easy. There are so many benefits to be gained in taking more things digital and in making the most of available technology – so here are the lessons, and the successful arguments, we’ve learnt during the process:
1. Data-driven insights allow for a better understanding of community engagement
Data allows us to understand everything from demographics, skills and qualifications through to motivations, engagement and attendance rates. Councils that prioritise how they capture and report on data, set the foundations for engaging their volunteers, while starting to create a lasting legacy for the community.
Having the right technology in place to quickly gather and, more importantly, understand the data, gives local governments a better chance of engaging and connecting with communities in a more meaningful way, especially through recognition and appreciation.
2. There is a need to be proactive, not reactive
During the pandemic, human kindness and generosity have shone through and it has really been incredible to see communities coming together to support one another. More often than not, this response to an event or crisis is reactive - however through technology, there is the opportunity to be more proactive and create a more planned approach.
Councils can create pools of volunteers that they can rely upon when needed so that despite the need to act quickly, elements such as safeguarding, skills-gathering and availability can be understood quickly without the need to start the process from scratch every time, creating a more efficient programme for their community.
3. Creating lasting legacies for future events and issues is important
By increasing the use of data and building a strong community of volunteers, local governments can create a lasting legacy for the area, especially if they are looking to host any major event or initiatives within a city or region.
Being able to not only call on this community, but also fully understand their skills, passions and previous experience will help showcase how the city can hold events such as COP26 in Glasgow, the UK City of Culture in Coventry or the EURO 2020 championships in London.
4. The need to create diverse and accessible volunteering programmes
In recent years we’ve seen a shift in the volunteering landscape. In years gone by, volunteering was seen as a pastime for an older demographic, but with the adoption of technology the younger generation are itching to get involved as and where they can.
Technology can allow for people to volunteer as and when they are ready and at short notice - it also allows for these programmes to be inclusive and diverse, offering a wide range of opportunities for anyone wanting to get involved.
The ability to showcase how anyone can get involved in the community regardless of ethnicity, background, disability or personal circumstance is something that is becoming increasingly attractive for local governments.
5. Providing ways to upskill and create pathways to employment
People volunteer for multiple reasons. While some choose to volunteer with the sole intention of giving back, others may choose to volunteer in order to gain new skills with the hope of forging career pathways to employment and as a means to gain experience.
The ability for technology to record the skills that volunteers have gained (whether through training, qualifications, certificates or even reward and recognition) allows local government to understand and showcase the impact these programmes are having and where it is benefiting the community most.