Spotlight on skills-based volunteering: Our annual charity website consultation

Spotlight on skills-based volunteering: Our annual charity website consultation

Published on: 
Monday, 3 February 2020

Every year the BIG Alliance receives requests for support from community partners who need to improve the visibility and experience of their organisations online. They understand the importance of having an effective presence on the web to attract additional beneficiaries, volunteers, and funders but don’t have the time, knowledge, or technical support to make these required upgrades. This can have a direct impact on the organisation’s capability, capacity and sustainability but also the number of residents who may not find these crucial support services in the borough.

Since 2016 The BIG Alliance has partnered with Expedia Group to create a programme to support community partners with their online presence. Each year Expedia Group include this volunteering requirement as part of their intern development programme, allowing the interns to improve their knowledge of local community issues and enhance their skills and consultation in computer science, digital media, marketing, business analytics, and finance.

Ilona Drozd, Global Early Talent Recruiter for Expedia Group further explained the benefits for volunteers and Expedia Group: "The website consultation session has been a vital part of our summer internship programme as it allows our interns to understand how small non-profit businesses operate and helps them develop team work, communication and organisation skills. It was great to see how much they enjoy using their tech and business skills to give back to local communities"

Support has been provided to 25 community and charity partners by over 120 interns in the last three years. Improvements have focused on a wide range of themes, including visual presentation, user journey and navigation, links to fundraising, wording and "the message" and search engine optimisation of the charities’ websites.

Hanley Crouch Community Association has been coming to the consultation every year since 2017, valuing the recommendations and support they have received from Expedia Group. Amrik Singh, who looks after Hanley Crouch's website and IT and has interacted with three different sets of interns through the consultations, said:

"For us it’s been a complete overturn with the website.

Before this support our website was so complicated to use. The links were a bit outdated, we had tiny photos, and it was just really difficult to navigate. To get the support to change these kind of things, you’ve usually got to pay a lot of money for it and it’s not something we could afford as a charity.

When we came to our first session, basically the interns did a little plan with us. We looked at how to navigate through websites, they showed us a few other websites that we could possibly model ours on, and basically get a good idea of how to create a website that can be used by all of our users.

Since then and having attended the following years’ sessions the website is now clearer, more up to date and modern. Everyone that has used it so far has enjoyed it. Even council members have sent us emails saying how amazing our website looks.

It's been a great experience and nice to have someone else’s opinion on the different ways we could do things. But we also had our voice heard and were able to incorporate our own ideas into the website changes. For example we’ve kept the mosaic part of the previous website, so we’ve maintained that little part of our history too."

For more information on how you could provide or receive skills-based expertise through BIG Alliance contact tom.browne@thebigalliance.org.uk