A Day in the Life of a Volunteer Co-ordinator

By Georgia Bowers, Community Engagement & Volunteer Co-ordinator, Spurgeons Children’s Charity

“I needed to get my confidence back… Volunteering opened my eyes to show me I could do more” (Spurgeons Aylesbury Volunteer)

In 1867, Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon, driven by a desire to tackle poverty and injustice, founded an orphanage which became the children’s charity known as Spurgeons today. Although the face of our work has changed, the need is just as great today as it was then. Our mission is to give every child the opportunity of a hope-filled life. As an organisation we believe in the value and potential of every child, recognising every person as a unique individual, deserving of respect and we won’t walk away, even when that means making tough choices. We are a nationwide organisation, but in Aylesbury we are nestled in the heart of the community and offer a wide range of services such as:

  • Weekly activities and sessions for parents and their children (aged 0-5).
  • Family Support who work in partnership with local families to provide information and support.
  • And lastly we run an extensive volunteering programme, where members can work alongside our Early Years Team, Family Support Team, run their own group/activity, support administration and much more!!!

As I’m sure you can imagine, charitable organisations such as ours are always in need of extra support through volunteering and as the Community Engagement and Volunteer Co-ordinator that’s where I come in.

What do I actually do?

My dual role requires me to regularly and actively engage with the community, and explore how we as an organisation can build and forge lasting partnerships that can benefit not only us, but our local neighbours as well. Under this, I lead on the recruitment and management of our wonderful volunteer programme, which sees individuals from all walks of life offer a couple of hours or sometimes even a whole day of their time for free. Together with our dedicated team of specialists in the field of early years and child development, our volunteers are taken into the heart of our organisation as they help to support, assist and even run their own groups or activities at our busy children’s centre.

Taking this into consideration, my everyday routine is varied, and no day is the same. Often, I will be out in the community attending local events, community centre activities, or meeting with other charities to share practice and ideas regarding the recruitment of volunteers. Recruitment also often involves posters in local settings such as libraries or supermarkets, speaking at public events, visiting local colleges/universities, and I also find that utilising social media platforms are a great way to get our message out there. In the same day, I might also be back in the office interviewing potential volunteers, or supporting those who are working with us on that particular day. This might include a regular catch up to see how they are getting on, or seeing if there is any way that we can support their growth or development. Previous volunteers have taken part in staff training days and courses alongside our team which have supported their personal and professional development, and in turn, their new found knowledge feeds back in to our organisation.

What skills does a volunteer need?

To volunteer with us there are no set specific requirements or qualifications needed. Rather, we are always looking for those who are committed, open and trustworthy, who also have a real interest in the development and wellbeing of children. So, if you are interested in developing or gaining new skills, are passionate about children, or you would like to have the opportunity to give back to your community, then you are exactly what we are looking for!!!

Would you like to volunteer with us?

If you would like to volunteer with us please call: 01296 487 855 or email gbowers@spurgeons.org


The Volunteer Family

In the run up to International Volunteer Managers Day 2017, we meet Victoria Leedham – Volunteering Manager at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People – who tells us more about her role and why Hearing Dogs could not exist without its volunteer network…

Victoria Leedham

“Volunteers enrich our community, and the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 demonstrated on the most high-profile stage the positive impact volunteering can have if properly resourced, supported and managed.

My role, as Volunteering Manager, is to ensure that Hearing Dogs has enough volunteers to achieve its aims and that those volunteers feel as good, as valued, and as supported as those – now legendary – Games Makers.

It’s a fallacy that volunteering comes for free and it’s wrong to think volunteers are simply there to cut wage costs. Volunteers add value to organisations and complement what is offered by paid employees. All volunteers require support and it’s for that reason Hearing Dogs is committed to a dedicated, central volunteering team who uphold best practice, encourage volunteer recognition and ensure volunteering efforts are in line with our peers. With fifteen times more volunteers than staff, it is important work that affects a very significant number of people.

My background is in marketing and communications and I hope to have used those skills to promote volunteering and raise the profile of volunteers since joining Hearing Dogs five and a half years ago.

The term ‘volunteer family’ is something I introduced and a concept that caught on quickly because of the obvious parallels; on a weekly basis I witness joy and sorrow, synergy and occasional squabbles, standard days and truly exceptional ones. I meet volunteers for whom volunteering is their everything, and others who are more transient. Whatever the commitment, there is no pecking order of volunteer. To my mind, everyone in the family gives what they can, with the time they have available, to the best of their ability.

I’m proud to say there is now a well-established culture of volunteering at Hearing Dogs. It’s taken as read that volunteers are integral to delivering and supporting the Charity’s mission to offer greater independence, confidence and companionship to deaf people through the gift of a hearing dog.

My personal pledge on International Volunteer Managers Day is to now think in terms of a ‘one team’ integration of the wider community:  volunteers, staff, beneficiaries, supporters, plus – importantly – our new friends from Hearing Link, the leading hearing loss charity we proudly merged with earlier this year.

The doors to Hearing Dogs’ brand new Welcome Centre, situated between High Wycombe and Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire, will open early in 2018 and there could be no better metaphor. Do stop by for a coffee and, who knows, you may just be inspired to join our family.”

About Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is a registered charity that trains dogs to alert deaf people to important sounds and danger signals such as the doorbell, telephone and smoke alarm – providing life-changing independence and confidence. Hearing Dogs provides a national service and no charge is made to recipients.

To find out about volunteer opportunities at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People please visit  www.hearingdogs.org.uk/volunteer email volunteer@hearingdogs.org.uk or call 01844 348122.

Hearing Dogs Welcome Centre opening date to be announced soon. 



Key Steps to Reinvigorate your Board

By Hazel Finney, Lead – Volunteering, October 2017

Hazel Finney

Back in April, I wrote a blog highlighting the key points from the House of Lords’ report, ‘Stronger charities for a stronger community‘.  One of these points was the importance of having a diverse range of skill sets on Trustee Boards.

Trustees Week logoWith Trustees’ Week (13-17 November) fast approaching, now is an excellent time to take stock of your Board and work out if there are any skills’ gaps.  We might be in a digital age, but I find that the best way of doing this is sitting down with the Board and systematically completing a skills’ audit.  This is one time when the old-fashioned flipchart stands head and shoulders above any digital device!

Reach out for great resources!

Reach Volunteering, one of Community Impact Bucks’ (CIB) partners, has a Knowledge Centre packed with information for organisations looking to enhance their Boards; this includes a downloadable skills’ audit, model role descriptions, and 4 top tips for recruiting great Trustees.  Reach also runs a highly successful Trustee recruitment service called TrusteeWorks, which is free to charities with a turnover of less than £1m.  Having placed over 2,000 trustees since the service started in 2009, they must be doing something right!

As Janet Thorne, Reach Volunteering’s CEO, says: “Reach is a great way to find trustees. We attract a broad range of people who want to share their expertise and  many are actively looking for trustee positions. You can promote your role to this community of volunteers, and beyond through our partnerships with LinkedIn, businesses and others. You can also search for people who look like a great fit and approach them directly. Flattery can work wonders! Charities tell us that the trustees that they recruit through our service make a really positive difference to their Boards, so I’d encourage you to give it a try.”

If you advertise your Trustee roles with Reach, you will also benefit from the added bonus of having them streamed live on Volunteering Bucks, CIB’s online portal for volunteers in Buckinghamshire.

Building Boards for a Digital Age

The House of Lords’ report also stresses the importance of bringing on-board Trustees with digital skills.  And, in the words of Sarah Atkinson from the Charity Commission, “Digital trustees can contribute significantly to making sure Boards have the skills they need.”

Visit the Digital Boards’ section of Reach’s website for everything you need to build a Board for the digital age.

How CIB can help

If you’d prefer to sit down with someone face-to-face, then help is at hand!  On 7 November I am running a CPD-accredited afternoon workshop at our office in Monks Risborough on How to Find New Trustees, and on 14 November, an advice surgery in Beaconsfield.  Places at the advice surgery are FREE and confidential – they go fast, so book your slot whilst you can!

Finally, winter might be creeping upon us, but if you set some time aside now to plan for the future of your Board, you will hopefully be able to benefit from new growth and renewal before too long!


A Beginners Guide to Google Ad Grants

By Susan Lambiase, upriseUP

Susan Lambiase

At upriseUP we’re delighted to be part of Community Impact Bucks’ Digital Journey Conference, and can’t wait to run our session on one of our biggest loves – Google Ad Grants . In this blog we’ll explain the application process as we are evangelical about getting charities of all sizes to make the most of this fantastic resource.

What is a Google Ad Grant?
If you are a registered charity with a website you can (and should!) apply for an Ad Grant from Google where you are given the equivalent of $10,000 a month to spend on Pay Per Click advertising in Google AdWords to promote your organisation!

Why you can’t ignore them
You can use a Google Ad Grant to attract potential donors, raise awareness, promote campaigns and so much more. We love Google Grants because they are:

  • Effective
    Nothing is more effective than being in front of somebody at the exact time they are looking for your product or service. This can mean an extra 300+ well qualified web visits per day.
  • Quick
    After a little bit of admin at the start it can be quick to get your Google Ad Grant approved and as soon as you have that green light you can get going, having your ads show, straight away.
  • Free!
    This is advertising for free! In this case there IS such a thing as a free lunch. Yes there are some restrictions but can you really afford to not tap into this resource?

Am I eligible?
In the UK you need to be registered with the Charity Commission with a charity number, or have charitable exempt status with the HMRC. There are a few types of charities that are not eligible (including government entities, hospitals and academic institution) and google reserves the right to decline an application for any reason, but this is rare!

How do I apply?
There are a few steps but we’ve usually managed to get a grant within a month. Don’t be put off!

  • Register with TT-Exchange (Technology Trust)
    You may well already be registered, as TT-Exchange offer reduced cost software for charities. We often find someone else in your organisation has signed up. If not, signing up for is straightforward for registered charities, you will need basic information including your charities mission statement (those that are apply with only charitable exempt status from the HMRC will need to submit a number of supporting docs).
  • Apply for Google for Nonprofits
    You will need a ‘token’ that you generate from your TT-Exchange account once that is approved and again need to provide a few details including a one sentence mission statement.
  • Set up a Google AdWords Account
    Whilst step 2 is in progress you can set up a Google AdWords account. Make sure you set the currency as USD and that you don’t complete ANY billing details. You will need to set up at least one campaign, one active unpaused ad, and at least one keyword in order to be considered eligible. Your campaign must be set to the Search Network only, and the destination URL for your ad must be a location on your charities site.
  • Apply for a Google Ad Grant
    Once you receive the notification from Google for Nonprofits that you are signed up, and you have set up your AdWords account as per step 3, you can take the final step and apply for the Google Ad Grant.

Log into your Google for Non-Profits account, and click ‘Enrol for Google Ad Grants’ under My Organisations > Enrolments. The form requires your AdWords Customer ID, as well as a checklist that your account satisfies the criteria for the Google Ad Grant, you will also need to supply 300-500 words describing how your organisation plans to use AdWords to make a social impact.

Once the account has been authorised by the Google Grants Team (it can take 30 days from submission of the application, although in our experience it is reviewed much more quickly than this), you will have a $330 to ‘spend’ each day in Google AdWords!

Now what do I do?
Now the fun starts! At upriseUP we specialise in the charity sector and have worked on over 50 accounts. We are experts at getting the best results from Google AdWords and think it is time we shared some of our learnings.  To help charities understand where to start and where to concentrate their efforts we’ve pulled together a whole guide to help you .

We can help
Come along to our session at the Digital Journey Conference where we’ll be giving practical guidance on how to get the most out of Google AdWords – we’d love to see you. We’ll also be exhibiting so do pop by our stand.

If you would like any more information, or help with applying for a Google Ad Grant, then please get in touch .

3 things I’ll be talking about at The Digital Journey

By Zoe Amar, director, Zoe Amar Communications & keynote speaker at The Digital Journey conference

I’m really excited to be giving the key note speech at The Digital Journey, Community Impact Bucks’ conference on 5 October next week.

Ahead of that I’ve been asked to share a few thoughts on what I’ll be talking about. There are 3 key points I’ll be focusing on.

  • Why go digital? Nick Philips, CEO of Community Impact Bucks has tasked me with convincing everyone who comes to the conference about the value of digital in 45 minutes. This reminded me that a friend of mine was talking to a charity trustee recently who told her that digital was irrelevant to their charity. I would challenge this view. No organisation operates in a vacuum, and all the trends indicate that digital is going to be an increasingly important part of the way we live and work. According to digital agency’s We are Social’s latest data, 51% of the world’s population use the internet, with 40% actively using social media. Ofcom’s latest data also shows that two-thirds of adults in the UK use a computer, whether a desktop, laptop or netbook, with a quarter of 16-34 year olds (24%) now only using a device other than a computer to go online. And, dispelling the myth that digital is just for young people, that same report showed that there has also been a significant increase in the number of internet users aged 75 and over embracing social media, with 41% having a social media profile in 2016, compared to 19% the year before. The facts speak for themselves. The question shouldn’t be: why is digital relevant to my charity? Instead, organisations should be asking themselves, ‘How can we use digital to remain as relevant and closely connected to our audience as possible?’
  • You don’t need to be a big charity to do digital well. I’ve spoken to many small charities who think that you need a whole digital team and a budget with lots of 000s on the end to do digital effectively. I’ll be honest- whilst resources do help, it is just as important to have a clear sense of purpose. Take National Ugly Mugs, a project developed by The UK Network of Sex Work Projects, a non-profit voluntary association of agencies and individuals working with sex workers. National Ugly Mugs has a small team but have developed an online reporting system, emails and texts connecting thousands of sex workers and hundreds of support services.  The project collates reports of incidents from sex workers and shares anonymised warnings with sex workers and support projects across the UK. They also share this information with the police (once consent has been obtained) and sex workers make full reports. Almost 50% of the sex workers who receive their alerts have been able to avoid dangerous offenders. So, before your charity plans anything in digital, ask yourself: why do we exist and how can we use digital to improve the lives of your beneficiaries?
  • Your CEO and board need to lead from the front on digital. When we co-wrote The Charity Digital Skills Report earlier this year leaders and boards emerged as a major issue. 80% of respondents want their leadership team to provide a clear vision of digital and what it could help them achieve, whilst 66% want a good digital strategy. Almost three quarters (71%) of charities cite their board’s digital skills as low or having room for improvement. If you need to get your CEO and trustee up to speed with digital consider offering them training  or take a look at the Charity Commission’s guidelines on digital, Making Digital Work, for inspiration.

I can’t wait to meet you at The Digital Journey conference. Please do come and say hello.

Book your place at The Digital Journey, 5 October 2017, Aylesbury.