Supporting community volunteering through Made Open Posted January 13, 2017 by Philip Merrifield In partnership with Bristol City Council, our most recent update to the Made Open platform enables community groups and organisations to advertise their volunteering opportunities; in so doing making it easier for volunteers to access citywide volunteering opportunities in just one place. Volunteers can draw attention to their availability and pledge directly to the projects that interest them. Groups and organisations can badge themselves as ‘looking for volunteers’, link to the volunteering opportunities on their websites and even embed a bespoke volunteering activity onto their website. The platform allows volunteers and organisations seeking volunteers to connect. This update has resulted directly from working with Bristol City Council’s neighbourhood team and their partners in the voluntary sector to look specifically at increasing impact volunteering in the city. Like many local authorities, the challenge facing Bristol City Council is not only increasing the number of volunteers but increasing how often people volunteer and coordinating them around shared goals. The Bristol quality of life survey shows that in one calendar year, 52% of people volunteered at least three times; however, not enough people are volunteering on a frequent basis (only 27% of the UK population say they took part in volunteering once a month – ivr.org). Bristol City Council want to change that and we have been working with them and their partners to explore how the Made Open platform can help to remove some of the barriers to volunteering. “We want to make it easier for people to access opportunities across the city and volunteer their time.” Dominic Murphy – Chief Service Officer, Bristol City Council Overcoming barriers to volunteering Our own research has revealed many challenges to volunteering; for example, limited diversity for volunteers with a variety of skills and experiences, lack of services that integrate Employer Supported Volunteering schemes into the community, limited awareness of the benefits to volunteering as well as the difficulty in finding opportunities that suit people’s skills, location and availability. Many small local charities and community groups have told us that they struggle to find time to add opportunities and promote them online, which is often why people can’t find relevant opportunities on national sites like Doit.org. The main difference with Made Open is that we have added a volunteering listing and matching service into an existing social networking platform. The result is a place online where people can learn about local issues, chat in public or in private groups about the things that matter to them, and volunteer to the causes they feel passionate about. How does it work? You can watch a full overview of the new features here. Individuals can now: Tag themselves as being interested in volunteering. Search groups with volunteering opportunities (filtering by location, interests and skills needed). View a list of volunteering roles for each organisation / group. Organisations can now: Create a groups profile and tag themselves as looking for volunteers. Add the skills they are looking for and the volunteering opportunities. Link to an existing website with their opportunities. Create their own list of volunteer opportunities enabling people to pledge. Search through a bank of community members who are interested in volunteering. What’s next? These new features are just the first step towards our bigger vision for supported volunteering. We plan to empower volunteers by reversing the traditional volunteering model and allowing people to offer their skills and time (e.g. “I am a designer with a passion for preventing homelessness in the city and I can offer two hours per week). Offers will be added to a “Volunteer Bank” where organisations can bid for their time. We will also be adding incentives through a “Community Exchange“, where people earn credits for community action and trade credits for rewards in a local marketplace. For more information about how Made Open can help support community action, please contact Robert or Kathryn on 01872 862 547.