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Volunteer engagement: crying out for a digital makeover in 2015

20 November 2014

In the past 10 years, digital technology has delivered profound change to the charity sector. A combination of software, new digital platforms and communications channels have transformed the way organisations engage with supporters, raise money and drive campaigns.

But while fundraising and communications have been at the forefront of digital transformation, other areas within charities are yet to benefit from the focus of a digital strategy.

Chief among these is volunteering. This week we are publishing a report which provides an overview of the areas where charities see a role for digital helping them work more effectively with the people who donate their time and effort to our organisations.

Of the four priorities which emerged from the event we ran with 28 CharityComms members responsible for managing volunteering activity in charities, the need to improve communication and knowledge sharing were the most pressing issues to resolve.

Here the concerns of charities were much wider than a desire to communicate from the centre out to all its volunteers in a timely and effective manner.

What charities want is to be able to facilitate ‘horizontal’ communication across regions, branches and groups as well as allow volunteer managers to better manage their resources locally. There is also a need to share back ideas for change and improvement as well as access best practice and experience which can save time and replication of effort.

More interesting still are the remaining two priorities. Here heads of volunteering want to do a better job of supporting the people who give up their time to support charities. This means using online or digital platforms to streamline onerous or paper based processes such as expenses claims or shift management. This has a double benefit of encouraging engagement and gathering the volunteer data they need to do that job effectively in the first place.

Looking across these themes it’s clear that digital has an important role to play in improving the way charities manage volunteers and keep them engaged with their work.

In the coming months, we’ll be running focus groups with charities, their volunteers and their local volunteer coordinators to get a sharper sense of what the needs of charities will be in this area. If you would like to get involved please drop me an email

Download your FREE copy of the report.

Tim Cockle

head of digital services, Eduserv

Tim is an experienced technologist with a formal research background combined with practical hands on experience and commercial awareness. He has worked as a Solutions Architect across several sectors and a diverse mix of technologies including service oriented architecture, mobile computing, clustered and distributed systems, visualisation, cloud and artificial intelligence.