TeamKinetic take a closer look at the new Sport Englands volunteer strategy

The announcement earlier this year that Sport England had identified volunteering as a key area for investment and development in their “Towards An Active Nation” strategy document was widely welcomed. Today’s latest release “Volunteering in an Active Nation” is the next step in the realisation of that objective.


If you have been involved in sport at almost any level, you would have been keenly aware that it does not happen without the combined efforts of 100’s of people.  From the top of sport to its very grassroots volunteers are essential.  For so many years there was an assumption that organised sport just happened! This is a view TeamKinetic did not share, and we set out to change that seven years ago when we built VolunteerKinetic. It’s with a sense of excitement we have been waiting to see what Sport England had in mind to re-imagine the sports volunteer landscape.

The acknowledgement in the document for the Sport and Recreation Alliance and our consortium of partners is something we are really happy with, although it is still early days we have been really busy behind the scenes since we were passed the baton by Join In.  Our hope is that through the work of the partners in the consortium we can provide a range of digital tools, research, campaign experience and support that will be invaluable in helping Sport England realise their vision. This will start this month with Sports Personality of the Year, and hopefully early in the new year, we will have even more to shout about.

The strategy commits to a £26 million investment, taking us to 2021, with £6 million available in the first round in February 2017.

The two initial funds are called

  • The Opportunities Fund – targeting people from disadvantaged areas.
  • The Potentials Fund – targeting 10 to 20 year olds.

Each fund is worth £3 million, and it seems quite clear that Sport England is very keen to widen volunteering to be more inclusive and representative.


Initially making it clear that disadvantaged can mean many things to a broad range of communities, they go on to say they are looking for partners who are trusted in their local communities and will consider bids “which contain smaller elements of sport and physical activity.”

Maybe most telling is the final statement;

“To emphasise our commitment to reaching this new audience, we’re aiming to award at least 50% of the fund for projects run by partners who are new to Sport England or even new to sport and physical activity.”

This seems to fit with the information we have had before today’s announcement with Sport England keen to look beyond the more traditional and established sport offer.  We think this fund provides some interesting opportunities for traditional organisations such as County Sports Partnerships and Local Authorities to work with less traditional partners such as youth and health groups, to provide infrastructure and support through volunteers for volunteers.


Sport England have identified the benefits of “youth social action” which has been the focus of the #iwill campaign run by Step up to Serve. This campaign was recently granted a £40 million extension until 2020 by the Prime Minister, Theresa May.

Step Up To Serve CEO Charlotte Hill presented the keynote speech at our annual conference this year at Manchester Metropolitan University. The #iwill campaign offers an opportunity to recognise and acknowledge the role of youth social action and provides a route for young people to get involved.  We advise every organisation who works with volunteers, to got to the #iwill website and make a pledge now.

The strategy does lack detail on what it may fund, but it does contain the provocative line “We’ll be looking for projects which connect with the lives and aspirations of 10 to 20 year olds. Sport and physical activity should be involved, but it doesn’t have to be the sole focus. We’re looking for brilliant ideas.”

We hope this allows for the type of innovation and creative engagement that will inspire young people to help lead this work.  We will be looking at how we work with our current customers and those we have been speaking with for some time, to help integrate our digital tools to provide the type of experiences and bring to life the brilliant ideas young people have.

The document makes numerous mentions regarding “digital” and its importance.  We will be working hard over the next few months to understand what that means and how to maximise our platform and its related connections.  We will be exploiting all our years of expertise in the sports volunteer sector to make sure VolunteerKinetic remains the most powerful volunteer management system available.

I think that pretty much covers the main elements as we understand them, please share your opinions with us on this latest strategy announcement.  We are keen to know what you think and how you might be able to benefit, or if you think Sport England may have missed anything.  We believe that this is where the hard work starts and we are ready to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in.  If you want to join us on this mission, don’t hesitate to get in touch.



Volunteering in an Active Nation




TeamKinetic has been working to improve the experience and opportunities available to people in sport for almost a decade. We are excited to announce we are now part of a partnership that will help to deliver Sport England’s new Volunteering in an Active Nation vision.

In September, the Sport and Recreation Alliance was handed the baton from the Join In Trust to work with partners to continue to focus on sport volunteering. TeamKinetic is delighted to be a part of this partnership working with, GLL, Jump, Volunteering Matters and Greater Sport.

Because of the importance of volunteering in sport and recreation, the partnership has come together under a shared vision to make volunteering in sport more accessible and more appealing to a diverse range of people. We want to see more people sharing their professional skills, experience and enthusiasm for sport and recreation, and we want them to feel that their efforts to help others are valued and that they benefit from being involved.

We welcome the opportunity to work with the Sport and Recreation Alliance and partners to develop an effective matching service that will make it as easy as possible for people and clubs, organisations and events which need volunteers to find each other.

How The University Of East London Boosted Their Student Employability

university_of_east_london_logo-svgThe ability for universities to prepare students with the skills and experience required by businesses is critical in today’s competitive economy.

Students at The University of East London (UEL) are offered the chance to build a strong portfolio of voluntary work placements within local, national, public and third sector organisations, giving them the experience and contacts to assist them after they graduate.


Why Did They Change?

Their previous volunteer management system offered few customisation tools, meaning that they couldn’t capture some key pieces of information.  The limited reporting library also meant they had very limited insight into how much volunteering was actually happening, and if that experience was good or bad.

Frequently students and organisations would avoid updating their details simply due to the awkwardness of the user interface, this eventually resulted in a system entirely out of date.

Students were often shown opportunities which no longer existed, or contact details that had since changed. This was very frustrating for both the students and the providers of the opportunities.

jo-crook-photo2-bw“These system limitations caused us to hold back on promoting the system, which reduced our visibility on and off campus”

Joe Crook – Volunteering Manager



The Move to TeamKinetic

UEL implemented TeamKinetic with a focus on boosting their student employability levels whilst also having the ability to recruit, manage and communicate with their volunteers directly through the system.

“With TeamKinetic, we now have access to the information we need in real-time, including who has signed up and who has completed their induction, and how many hours they have logged which is vital to our volunteer programme.”

Joe Crook – Volunteering Manager

Within 4 months UEL had enrolled over 350 students and 80 providers regularly adding opportunities. By allowing students and businesses to control their own information administration of the system is minimal.

“We spend around 6 hours per week administering the system, which is great as we now have more time to promote our service to local businesses and students.”

Joe Crook – Volunteering Manager

The reduced administration has allowed UEL to focus on marketing opportunities instead of getting caught up in the logistics.  This has enabled them to utilise TeamKinetics feedback functions giving them valuable insight into the students’ experience, allowing them to develop and pass on best practice.

“The system has diversified the way that we communicate as we have started to use the functions that are available to us. We also actively use the online news feeds and case studies and this allows us to communicate to our volunteers much quicker and easier than before.”

Our community partners enjoy using the system due to its clean interface, the fact that the opportunities have an expiry date, and that they can add relevant information per position means the opportunities are always accurate and up to date. “

Joe Crook – Volunteering Manager


The Future

The success of the system has allowed UEL to focus on achieving higher conversation rates, from enrolment on the system to placement within a local business.

“We now know which students have signed up and are currently and actively volunteering on a variety of opportunities.”

The TeamKinetic platform is powerful and offers us unprecedented insight into our volunteering programme. The ability to personalise our online presence is fantastic, allowing us to customise the look of the site in line with our branding guidelines, giving us a much more professional feel to the site which is important when dealing with external businesses.

I have already recommended TeamKinetic to a number of Universities around the UK, if you want a professional looking volunteer programme, I advise you to take a look as it is superior to anything else I have come across.”

Joe Crook – Volunteering Manager


Volunteering Matters.



TeamKinetic are proud to announce that we are now a consortium partner working with the Sport and Recreation Alliance and Join In, alongside other recognised partners, who share the vision of growing the volunteer network, which is vital for the development of sport and activities, for both organisations and individuals within the future.

Throughout this partnership, Team Kinetic have a view to:

  • Ensure that more opportunities become available for a greater number of organisations. Therefore, promoting a positive message regarding volunteering to a wider audience.
  • Grow the future of volunteer research and assist with the management of volunteers, for a range of organisations.
  • To, Recruit, Reward and be Relevant within the market place.

Through working towards these goals, TeamKinetic are adding to the future of volunteer management and assisting with the recruitment for organisations who currently have/ or are looking to have volunteers that: take part within activities, improve an organisation with more active participants and can promote a healthier lifestyle. Demonstrating the importance of recruiting individuals who have been inspired and are interested to become active by volunteering, and are able to find the correct organisation in order to start taking part.

Overall, we share the vision with our fellow consortium partners that volunteering is integral to sport throughout every level and we will work together to make sure the future of sport and volunteering continues to grow and develop.

Park Champions


Welcome to the Special edition of the
Park Champions newsletter


Our Park Champions celebrated!

Last Thursday, 6th October, we were delighted to host our annual celebration event at The Podium Bar & Kitchen.
It was a fantastic evening that enabled us to say thank you to you – the volunteers who have participated in a range of activities within our Park Champion programme over the past year. Over 110 Park Champions attended and we hope all enjoyed themselves.

2016 has been a fantastic year with volunteers racking up a huge 12,800 volunteer hours. There has been an array of volunteering opportunities from providing information, welcoming guests and delivering the park mobility service at the Information Point to supporting the vast number of events including West Ham United and London Lions matches, National Paralympic Day and Sport Relief. Not forgetting those who really got their hands dirty during the conservation and gardening programme.

Take a look at the news article on Our Parklife website here:

A selection of photos are available here:

Take a look at the news article in this week’s Newham Recorder on page 2:

We are now looking forward to another exciting year in 2017, with a number of major events coming up on the Park. From the IAAF World Championships and World ParaAthletics Championships to community and sports events to help connect local people to the Park, there is sure to be something for everybody to get involved with. Once again we will be running our hugely successful Park mobility service and there will be many new roles to come with new Park partners so keep your eyes peeled for opportunities.


Congratulation to our Park Champions!

Once again we awarded gold, silver and bronze pin badges as a way of saying thank you for your enthusiasm, energy and dedication to the Park and our Park Champion programme.

Those that completed over 50 hours of volunteering were awarded with a bronze pin. For 100 hours of volunteering a silver pin was awarded and for an amazing 150 volunteer hours we awarded a gold pin.

If you are yet to achieve 50 hours do not worry as you still have until 31st December to claim your pin by racking up the hours – all those that have hit the required number of hours by this date will be awarded the pin. All hours will go back to zero on 1st January 2017.

A full list of the volunteers being awarded with pins to date is below, if you were unable to join us at the event last week please come to the Information Point when you are next on shift so that we can award you your pin.

Frank Scavera 736
Mark Orton 622.75
Sahidul Islam 401.5
Peter Barry 363.5
Keith Gabriel 359.25
Henry Mapperley 245
Graham Soames 227.25
Ricky Brown 203
Sarah Chapman 200.25
Edward Wingate 196.75
Olive Wenborn 187.75
Hilary Victor 183.5
Richard Darby 182.75
Lynn Barker 172
Catherine Ellis 149
Trudi Barnes 147.25
Pauline Djian 142
Viveca Dutt 140
Rohit Jobanputra 133.75
Janet Lowe 131.75
Anne Jennings 129.75
Brenda White 121.5
Christine Daniels 115.25
Jenny Marshall 112.5
Feras Al-hamadani 107
Jenni Hurme 99.5
Jacqui Gagan 98.75
Gillian Bourke 97.75
Clive Myers 94.5
Paul Harper 94.25
Alison Richmond 93.25
Jane Huntley 91.75
Oluwafunmike Akande 90.25
Ann Senior 88.5
Andy Macgarr 86.5
Lizzie Newbold 84.75
Alberto Carcaba 81
Karim El-houssami 79.75
Colin Plummer 79
Sally Elton 78.5
Laura Lincoln 77.25
Helen Roycroft 76
Di Russ 74.75
Steven Skamarski 74
Stephen Rowe 72
Pat Strange 66.25
Fatima Lee 65.5
Katie Blake 65.25
Liam Cornwall 64.5
Maggie Mathison 64.25
Lynne Ellis 62.5
Daniel Kovacs 61.5
Hasmita Shah 60.5
Ray Ellis 59.5
Shinobu Wakamatsu 58.75
Ben Waite 58.5
Pauline Martindale 57.75
Geoffrey Longster 57.5
Susan Marchant 57.25
Janet Lambert 57
Kathleen Mcenteggart 57
Janet Davies 56
Stephen  Shooman 55.75
Jean Death 54.75
Jane Astin 54
Paul Lazarus 54
Gillian Morgan 52.75
Tim Benson 52.5
Kathryn Taylor Saunders 51.25
Tom Cavanagh 50


Park Champions ride the slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit

Park Champions also had the opportunity to take on the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide. It is fair to say that everybody that experienced the thrilling descent loved it!
Following their hair-raising descent the volunteers and stakeholders went on a tour of the Park with our two community guides, Di and Stephen.

More photos of the trip are available on the Park Champions Facebook group.

Park Champions – Volunteer experience feedback

To ensure that we are developing a programme that is exciting, engaging, interesting and fun for you, your feedback is hugely important. This is your chance to give us your opinions on how the programme runs currently and how you would like to see it develop.

Please do take the time to complete this survey as all feedback is greatly appreciated:

Become a runner!

The world’s best athletes are coming back to London and this is your chance to see them compete for the title of World Champion at The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The London 2017 Organising Committee has launched its search for ‘Runners’ – the volunteer programme for the World ParaAthletics Championships and IAAF World Championships.

They are looking for up to 4,000 volunteers to be at the heart of the Championships, helping to deliver the event in The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and across London.

The IAAF World Championships and World ParaAthletics Championships will be the biggest celebration of athletics in the capital since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Being a Park Champion, your expertise and knowledge of the Park would be an incredible asset to the ‘Runners’ team. If you want to be part of the event please follow the link below:
Who can be a Runner?

Everyone! Whatever your background or ability, there are no barriers to being one of our volunteers.

Every Runner will receive an official volunteer uniform to wear during shifts, which you can keep after the Championships as a souvenir, and meal vouchers for The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

How do I get involved?

Applications are now open to become a runner and will close at midnight on Sunday 16th October 2016. If you would like any further information before applying, click here to visit the FAQs.

Team Kinetic Supports Women in Sport #WSW16

Throughout the week of 3rd – 9th October 2016, the charity Women in Sport, are running a Women in Sport week, to bring people together who have an involvement in a variety of different activities, in order to increase the profile of female participants across the UK.

During this week, TeamKinetic are focusing on women who volunteer within organisations and are promoting both the involvement and strong importance of female volunteers.

“Women in Sport draws on its unique insight to champion the right of every woman and girl in the UK to take part in, and benefit from, sport: from the field of play to the boardroom, from early years and throughout her life” (Women in Sport, 2016).

With a variety of our clients including: NGBs, CSPs and Local Authorities, we have access to a wide network of women who are currently involved within volunteering. Therefore, ensuring that the events are able to take place by signing up through TeamKinetic’s volunteer management system, making sure that there are a range of different opportunities available for all volunteers.

Furthermore, TeamKinetic demonstrates that women become involved for the right reasons.  Alongside, how to reach out to both new and existing female volunteers, who are participating within sports and activity.

  • Providing a welcoming environment and full support and guidance for the organisations volunteers.
  • Creating aspirations and goals.
  • Involve a variety of volunteers to enable varied and exciting opportunities.

Therefore, throughout Women in Sport week, by having an effective volunteer management system in place for your organisation, such as TeamKinetic, encourages you to begin recruiting, managing and organising participants becoming involved in sport and provides more opportunities for women to sign up and start volunteering now. #WSW16800x560px-20110106_sport_england_83

‘The Importance of Volunteers’

‘TeamKinetic has ensured that the Homeless World Cup could take place through recruiting and gaining volunteers’

Mariana, Marketing Executive, Homeless World Cup

Sporting events across the country would struggle to run efficiently without volunteers. Think about the huge success of the London 2012 Games Makers and their counterparts in Rio. These volunteers were all essential to making the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games successful and in Rio this year, the volunteers at the Olympic Games have once again demonstrated how invaluable they are.

So you won’t be surprised when I tell you that volunteers play a key role in making sure the Homeless World Cup takes place. However, it’s all very well and good getting volunteers to help manage an event but you also need to be able to accurately manage their time and activities. During the Homeless World Cup, we were able to use AccessKinetic, an accreditation system, and VolunteerKinetic, a volunteer management system to recruit and manage our volunteers who participated.  These systems are a part of TeamKinetic which is a suite of applications fostering and growing communities that revolve around volunteering.

The Homeless World Cup took place in Glasgow, during July 2016, at George Square. The venue included, three purpose built pitches with seating, which was the main venue for 64 teams, from 51 different countries. The participants included homeless people from all over the globe, who came together to play a sport that they are passionate about, in order to represent their country.

Throughout the event we identified five reasons why TeamKinetic’s service is vital for organisations to manage their volunteers and help others to become active in sport.


Volunteer involvement was vital for the running, delivery and management of the Homeless World Cup. The various roles taken on by the volunteers meant they had to undertake different responsibilities. These responsibilities helped the players and spectators, promoted the event and encouraged people to play and get involved in sport.

2. Importance 

It was vital that the volunteers enjoyed their roles and that the overall event was a success. Throughout the Homeless World Cup, we had an average of 350 volunteers a day. They all had varying roles with different responsibilities – but it was important that they all helped make the atmosphere for both players and spectators phenomenal. Being able to provide the volunteers with the support they needed to carry out their roles meant the event was able to demonstrate the importance of playing sport and using it to bring people together.

3. Spectators  

 The Homeless World Cup in Glasgow attracted 80,000 spectators. Their attendance was vital to the success of the event but they also played an important role in making sure both players and volunteers felt valued. By experiencing such a positive, and potentially life changing event for the players, volunteers and spectators were able to see first hand the benefits of an active lifestyle. This is excellent news as research shows that attending sporting events is sometimes enough to encourage people to get involved in sport themselves.

‘Five key core motivations for sports event attendees includes: socialisation, performance, excitement, extreme and diversion. Alongside, focusing on the whole experience to grow and promote participation’ (Greenwell et al, 2014)

4.  Participation 

Volunteers were able to get involved, participate and reflect on the Homeless World Cup via social media. This is because of an integrated function within the TeamKinetic system. It also helped to engage with players attending the event, as they were selected through a variety of trials and training sessions within their home countries. The VolunteerKinetic system and the accredited AccessKinetic badges, meant that all volunteers gained a sense of achievement and responsibility throughout the event.

5. Post Event  

There were many vital aspects for the Homeless World Cup to consider after the event.  Including monitoring the number of homeless people who participated in the event and continue to play sport to improve their health and lifestyle. At the same time, it also helped engagement with volunteers through the TeamKinetic system so that we were able to keep them involved in future events.

The Homeless World Cup, and other positive sporting events really help to encourage players, spectators and volunteers to #TryYourKitOn and get active.


‘Sports Volunteering in the Current Landscape’


Team Kinetic co-hosted the second MMU Sports Volunteering Conference, at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, within May 2016. The event covered key themes of volunteering within sport, physical activity and health-related fields, using a mix of practitioner workshops, engaging keynote talks and interactive practitioner-led stands.

Alongside this, the conference titled ‘Sports Volunteering in the Current Landscape’, included a full line up of speakers including: Geoff Thompson MBE from Youth Charter, who discussed helping young people, communities and society as a whole. Charlotte Hill, CEO of Step Up to Serve, who identified the role of evidence in her national programme which runs until 2020. Explaining how they have embed this programme locally and nationally to build uptake. Alongside these, Tony Jameson-Allen from Sporting Memories foundation, offered fascinating insights from the high profile Comic Relief part-funded dementia and sport history well being project discussing how sport plays a major role within helping dementia, and how activators and volunteers play a vital role in supporting the organisation.

The conference was aimed at organisations and individuals who have a role in recruiting, managing and deploying volunteers, as well as those with a strategic view of volunteer development and growth.

Catherine Elliott – Senior Lecturer, MMU said “We want to create a place where volunteering is examined in a professional manner. Starting the conversation to understand the role of the volunteer is vital, so that you can evaluate the value and potential of their support. The conference reflected on the dynamism of the volunteer space, with discussions and first hand, real world involvement being explained to a variety of organisations, to teach valuable experience and develop their growth”.


How you can turn every week into international volunteer week, and why you should!

International Volunteer Week is here again and for a brief period of time you are inspired to promote and publish your positive volunteer stories. This week you give thanks to all your wonderful volunteers via your social media channels and make gestures to those people that slave away day in day out, week in, week out for the love….helping to make your sport happen.

In the modern, professional world of sport with CEO’s and large work forces, it is easy to understand how a distance develops between the everyday member, volunteer, helper, parent and your organisation; as you as an employee are under pressure to hit targets, make money and grow your sport.

So how do you make every week, International Volunteer Week and maintain this feeling of goodwill to your valuable and dedicated volunteers throughout the year?

British Cycling’s Dave Brailsford talks often of marginal performance gains, the tiny differences between a successful team and a second place team. We believe that in organisations involving volunteers and the third sector, your biggest marginal gain can come from encouraging your volunteer work force to do more, to do it better, keep doing it for longer, and to gain more from their experiences.

So how can you do that? We have some ideas that we would like to share.

There are so many types of volunteer but they all share something in common; they like someone to acknowledge their hard work and say thank you.  Across a large organisation that can be difficult, how do you acknowledge the varying contributions they make? How do you even know?

To start with as an organisation you must look at how you are recognising volunteering within the senior management team and resource volunteering within your operational teams, do you have a person or persons with a responsibility for volunteering within your organisation at each level of management?

It starts from the top, is there an acknowledgement at board level as to the importance of valuing volunteers? Bearing in mind you’re a voluntary organisation!  That would be a great place to start.  We know that where volunteering is valued within an organisation’s culture you are much more likely to see amazing results.

Once you have some sort of volunteer management in place, you need to consider how you identify and recognise those people who are the “diamonds” for your organisation. These are the future volunteer leaders, those volunteers that operate over a wide range and number of volunteers and that inspire and mentor other volunteers.

To spot these volunteer leader candidates, develop a role in your organisation that examines your volunteer workforce. This role identifies the data and information you need to capture, and understands what motivates your volunteers and then uses that knowledge to facilitate and enable volunteer experiences that are fulfilling and rewarding. Read about our experiences in data insight and what we consider to be the most valuable data or take a look at the work of Join In.

It is easy for organisations to fall into the trap of offering great rewards and incentives, but the key is getting the right investment to the right people rather than spreading it too thinly across too many individuals. Incentivisation is part of a successful volunteer team, but you need to know what your return on investment is going to be. Who are you spending on? What do you expect in return? Are you investing wisely?   Having data on volunteer retention, cost per conversion, being able to map individuals pathway from starting out as a helper through to running a county executive or becoming a head coach. This data ensures that you remain focused on finding those “diamonds”.

Finally and we think most importantly you need to look at how you grow from a centrally administered and controlled volunteer programme, to one that is owned by the volunteers, clubs and participants themselves.  Any expanding and successful volunteer programme is partly the result of a ground swell of people from the bottom, not diktats from the top, you need to build volunteer leader infrastructure (by that I mean find great, motivated people and provide them with support, training and resources) that facilitates and enables your existing volunteers to help to offer more amazing, exciting opportunities to the next wave of volunteers. This is the virtuous circle of volunteer investment.

So to recap we think the most important things you can do to help your volunteer programme grow all year round is to;

  • Achieve an appreciation and acceptance at the very top of your organisation that values the investment volunteers make in your organisation. Value your volunteers.
  • Develop specific roles within your organisation who’s job is to collate your volunteer data and gain insight which can be used to improve your programme. Do not just collect key performance indicators.
  • Incentivise and reward volunteers all year round. Be smart, target rewards for best returns.
  • Identify, support and develop potential volunteer leaders. Leverage their experience and enthusiasm to spread your volunteer values.

Sport is known to be poor at retaining its volunteers, its time to move on from yearly gestures to look at understanding your rank and file stakeholders (not just members but mums and dads, siblings, and long standing supporters), what they want and how you can deliver to keep them engaged. We work with organisations to make valuing volunteers an important part of their culture and offer solutions that help with those issues outlined and encourage retention and development of volunteers. Our cloud applications, including VolunteerKinetic, provide an  easy to implement infrastructure that makes embedding good volunteer practice across your organisation simple.

I hope next International Volunteer Week I can write a blog where I talk about how we have move into a world where your volunteer is understood and is looked after as well as your CEO.




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Not another IT system!!!

angry at computer

Many of the organisations we work with offer the same reservations about initiating a new Volunteer Management System.
“Do we really need another IT system?  Why can’t we just use our CRM system?”
We are living in a time of rapid technological change and organisations are fighting to keep up with that change whilst battling for attention in an increasingly busy marketplace.  Its my aim to try and answer the question above but to also give you some food for thought on how you may future proof your IT infrastructure and grow your organisations ability to effectively communicate with your fans, members, coaches, volunteers, officials and, other stakeholders.
We live in the Post PC world where your various users have choice over how they want to keep in contact with you.  This includes phones, tablets, computers, smart TV’s, PC’s and Macs as well as old world technology like magazines and news letters.  Netflix has come to dominate the “Video on demand” space through making sure its service is ubiquitous, that is it is available on all platforms.  Now I’m not suggesting you are Netflix, but the lesson is clear, know where your users are and prioritize those platforms for development. 
Another important lesson from Netflix is to make sure the experience is consistent across those platforms.  If people have a bad experience on their phone with your web site or app, their opinion will be diminished across any other digital content you offer.
Not only do we have so many ways to plug in to the digital world, we have an even larger range of software options and channels to communicate through that space;  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Chat Bots, Google.  These channels provide vast infrastructure and reach but as more and more options become available the cost of keeping all these relevant and interesting becomes harder and harder, also your audience gets further and further segmented making each option less attractive for total market reach.  
How do you create an infrastructure that will be able to continue to cope with the endless developments that are coming down the line? Can you build in a manner that allows you create you own communities?  If you build your own community do you know how to track its opinions and trends effectively? Can you extract value from that relationship commercially, operationally and socially?
Let start with CRM and the problems it solve and creates. 
There is a clue in the name, Customer Relationship Management.  In its self it seems to make sense and you could argue it would solve some of the issues I have pointed out above, but let me explain what the issues are:
“Customers”.  If I’m selling widgets this approach makes sense, but in a sporting context who are your customers, is it the clubs, the members, the helpers, the fans?
This “customer” focused approach does not encompass the complexities your organisation faces. You do have examples where there is clearly a customer relationship and taking elements from good customer service is never a bad idea, but there are many other examples where you are stakeholder, signposting service, community leader, advisor, service provider, trainer and manager.  Your relationship with your “customers” is vastly more complex than most retail or service organisations.  Each user group listed has a very specific set of requirements from you.
CRM also makes the assumption that everything will go through you directly as an organisation. What we have learnt over the last 7 years is that communities really thrive when you, a central governing organisation, give your members, customers and interested parties, the tools they need to be independent and to take ownership of their own destiny.
I am not suggesting that a CRM policy is not important, and you should consider it carefully but not at the expense of the end user. Your CRM should be flexible to allow you to work with other solutions. It should provide a data and insight backbone through which you can track opportunities and direct contact.  But as the world becomes more complex it is unreasonable to assume it can undertake every aspect of your business communications strategy. 
Our particular area of expertise is Volunteer Management, they are not members often, do not always self-identify as Volunteers and they are defiantly not customers. Their roles vary from helpers to chair of your board. Our system provides specific tools for the specific job.  Events management, schedule setting, opportunity brokerage, skills mapping and training to name some headline functions.
Providing high powered tools that do a specific job very well, gives your organisation the opportunity to see exponential performance improvement and the ability to achieve new levels of scale. 
Our volunteer platform allows Manchester City Council to provide a service for over 7000 users with only one staff member.
So how do you get your CRM system and other specialist systems working more effectively together to get the best outcomes for your users?
Reduce account duplication and sign up fatigue.
Leveraging open auth ecosystems like sign in with Facebook, Google and so on, reduces friction for your users and also reduces the duplication of accounts. As a bonus it also gives a smooth route to encouraging users to share their experiences.
Don’t force square pegs into round holes.
Membership, CRM, content management, social media management; each have very specific requirements, make sure you have the right tool for the job and that they are as tightly coupled as possible so you can share data and get better insights.
Software as a service (SaaS)
SaaS has led to software solutions that are web based and available across multiple platforms at a lower cost.  These solutions normally offer specific tools that you can subscribe to as and when you need them.
Don’t get hung up on what you think you want to know
If you provide an easy user experience that encourages user engagement, they will provide you with more insight and data than you will know what to do with.  Try and keep your technology focused but most important useful to the end user.  If it feels like its more about what you want to know rather than what the end user gets out of using it, they will very quickly disengage.  Look at how you collect your data from the way people engage with your various systems and use that data to continually iterate and improve the end user experience.
The story goes that part of the reason Google won the search engine wars in the early 00’s is because they automatically placed the text cursor in the search bar so you did not have to click into it with your mouse. (There was a little more to it that is also worth a read) It really is the marginal gains that lead to excellent end user experience. 
The TeamKinetic platform is created using many of the ideals I have shared above.  Our software is always undergoing iterative improvements so we can strive towards the best user experience possible.  If you would like to find out more about our Volunteering, Workforce, Coaching and Club management systems please feel free to get in touch or visit us here .




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