Creating a social and
economic impact through
harnessing a blended
volunteering approach

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Doing good. Together.

Volunteer Makers helps charities, community and arts and heritage organisations to expand their volunteer engagement and create new and wider connections with their supporter communities, by blending volunteering with public participation through digital engagement.

Volunteer Makers provides training and consultancy in volunteering strategy along with digital tools.  Our workshops and consultancy have helped organisations to grow larger pools of supporters linking to increased volunteering and sign-ups.

The Volunteer Makers approach opens up volunteering to a new audience while delivering measurable value for organisations and the people who support them.

Pioneering Volunteer Makers – 21st Century Volunteering

Find out more about our ACE supported programme from those involved, and how we can work with you too.

Try Volunteer Makers Now

Volunteer Makers provides training and consultancy in volunteering strategy along with digital tools.  Our workshops and consultancy have helped organisations to grow larger pools of supporters linking to increased volunteering and volunteer sign-ups.

We can devise and deliver a training programme for your network or organisation. Our training ranges from workshops for individual organisations to national sector-based training programmes.

The Digital Platform

The Volunteer Makers’ web platform is a powerful tool for managing your volunteering – blending micro-volunteering with digital engagement and volunteer support.

Our platform has valuable functionality – it allows you to match the needs of your organisation to the skills and interests of your supporters, letting people support you in a way that that suits them and directly helps you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Find out more about Volunteer Makers including:

  • Who is it suitable for?
  • How does it work with your existing volunteers?
  • Why should you use it?

Our Volunteer Makers Pioneers

From 2016-2018 we worked with more than 60 museums across England, delivering Volunteer Makers training and the Volunteer Makers platform.

This national programme, supported by Arts Council England, helped our pioneer museum partners deliver measurable improvements in volunteer engagement and opened up opportunities for new volunteers.

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What you are saying about the Volunteer Makers model

I would just like to thank you for delivering our wonderful training and for taking the time to travel down to Portsmouth and inspire us with Volunteer Makers.

Thanks again for your training and support- we are all excited about the future of volunteering and the new direction we will soon be travelling in.

Kirsty KinnairdNational Museum of the Royal Navy

“We know that people still want to give their time to volunteer, but also that that time needs to give something back. Museums need to offer more than just operations or events. They need to offer support, interaction and sustainability across the range of their activities.

“Volunteer Makers offers an intelligent answer to this problem. The app in particular not only makes it easier for people to find out how they can help, but addresses their interests or availability so that everybody wins. It’s volunteering for the modern world. And it’s going to have massive benefits in communities across the country.”

John Orna-OrnsteinFormer Director of Museums, Arts Council England

Everyone was buzzing and excited after the session, and I can honestly say I have never had such heartfelt positive feedback about a change of system before!

Jessica Hartshorn Rugby Art Gallery and Museum

“Introducing Volunteer Makers has seen a wider demographic of people sign up with interest to volunteer with the museum.  Age ranges have become much more balanced across the board. Interest from non-visiting community groups has doubled which is amazing!  We are excited to continue to harness the power of this digital technology, to continue to offer a broad range of opportunities and better reflect the diverse community in Hackney”

Fran RiandoGeffrye Museum of the Home

Engaging and Developing Supporters – 5 User Tips

At Volunteer Makers we’re always looking for ways to improve the success of our user community in engaging with volunteers and supporters, and to share success too.

Spoiler alert! Volunteer Makers requires the same sustained approach to supporter development as any other system. The difference Volunteer Makers can make is the potential of social digital and flexible opportunities to reach out and appeal to a wider and more diverse supporter base.

Here are our top tips, collated from our successful user community:
Tip 1
In at #1, social media – particularly effective for reaching new volunteers. Although it’s not rocket science, it’s surprising how easy it is to miss the opportunity of this tool to share Challenges, engage with supporters and share your supporter stories. Successful users are putting most, if not all, of their Challenges on social media and making the most of their reach. Remember, Volunteer Makers has social media sharing tools embedded in the site to make it even easier!

Every new challenge that goes on is mentioned on all our social media feeds for us and the town. I would say that digital media has been the most successful marketing tool, particularly as we have quite a good reach already” (Tamsin Bough, Falmouth Art Gallery).

I post at least one original tweet or post each day and then obviously we re-post relevant content. Primarily I use it in a “Have you seen this volunteering opportunity with X” type vein, but I also share events that are happening at the organisations that use Engage in Gloucester and celebrate local volunteers or volunteering in general” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

Tip 2
Your website – again, not rocket science, but do make sure your Volunteer Makers’ site is on there, is easy to find, and cross references support and volunteering. As your Volunteer Makers’ site is branded to look like your core website, this should be seamless.

Our website has directed many people to sign up, having a section explaining about Volunteer Makers” (Jessica Hartshorn, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum)

Tip 3
To reach existing supporters and volunteers, and to convert them to being a Volunteer Maker, make the most of your mailing assets – to existing volunteers and supporters (all GDPR compliant of course!), direct emails (add a clickable banner to the footer of all staff emails) or newsletter articles.

Tip 4
There’s nothing wrong with analogue! Engage new supporters offline too. Posters, flyers, postcards and bookmarks have all been tried and tested, directing people to Volunteer Makers’ sites.

I’ve got three pull up banners, logoed stickers and postcards to advertise the site. I go out to events such as the History Festival, residents’ weekend, local community shows and have a stall, chat to people about the site and hand out the postcards and stickers. I also made sure that the postcards are a bit thicker and substantial so they don’t just get immediately discarded and they also work as bookmarks” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

 

 

Tip 5
More offline activity – you can still showcase Volunteer Makers and drive people to your site via traditional methods such as volunteer fairs and events (on or offsite). It might help to have a laptop/tablet to showcase what you offer, how it works and encourage sign ups on the spot.

I recommend face-to-face contact at open days – ensuring they sign up on the spot!” (Katy Hammond, Museum of Oxford)

The most labour intensive, but I think the best conversion rate has to be face to face contact with people” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

Summary
We ask our users to put together a plan before they launch for delivering Volunteer Makers – but a plan isn’t just for launch! You will need to sustain your supporter development all year round, and be prepared to experiment with new approaches and maximise your existing assets. As you would for any audience engagement in your organisation.

Case Study
Sofia Carosi, Corporate, Community and Events Fundraiser at HorseWorld tells us how she’s put this into practice since launching in January this year:

I’ve found that social media, particularly Facebook, has been the best way to gain new members on HorseWorld Heroes (HH), as it reaches many more people and is an easy platform to get info in front of them more than once, as opposed to sending a letter where they read it then throw it away. I post regularly on social media about the new site and that we’re looking for specific challenges to be met etc. I’ve set the cover photos on all our social media accounts to show HH and pinned posts to the top of all news feeds. I also ran a sponsored Facebook Advert for 7 days (spent £50, 315 link clicks).

I’ve made staff add clickable banners to their emails so it reaches new audiences outside of my control (without breaching GDPR). I sent direct emails to all current staff and active volunteers and arranged reminders to be sent to those who have not opened the first mailing. I sent emails via MailChimp to active supporters with email consent.

I posted within a campaign mail out to supporters a printed bookmark (that I made myself and printed here to keep costs down) with details of the website on. HorseWorld Heroes will also have a page in the next HorseWorld newsletter and will be pushed out further at events with flyers and bookmarks in goody bags.

Popular challenges are mainly within the Just A Minute category, with Follow On Social Media topping this. An Hour or Two category challenges are also popular, with Knit/Crochet Horses or Donkeys being most clicked on and accepted. Because of this, we will have a lot more handmade horses/donkeys to sell at the open days (which from experience we know are very popular) so will increase our income as a result of the new Volunteer Makers system.

We have gained a new potential regular Research Volunteer to help with #BreakTheChain, and a new and regular Discovery Volunteer. Furthermore, we have acquired two offers of raffle prizes for the Open Days and one offer of clothing for Discovery students because of HorseWorld Heroes.

You can find their site here

Anna Bryant, MA, AMA, Marketing and Engagement Manager, Volunteer Makers
Anna has worked in and for museums of all shapes and sizes across curatorial, interpretation, audience development and marketing roles during the last 19 years.

Volunteer Makers ends the year with a bang – 1000s of people now signed up doing 10,000s of challenges, here are some shining examples

The approach to the Festive Season hasn’t slowed the pace of the Volunteer Makers’ team and our partner organisations. We now have thousands of people signed up to Volunteer Makers’ platforms across England and have engaged with organisations operating over 200 sites!

As we prepare to leave a busy and successful 2018 for Volunteer Makers, now’s the time to look at some of our “Christmas stars” who’ve upped their digital game via Volunteer Makers.

The Museum of Oxford is a pioneer organisation within Volunteer Makers, and despite being closed for redevelopment until 2020, has signed up more than 100 volunteers since the launch of their site in February.

That success was matched by Engage in Gloucester, a consortium of arts, heritage, cultural and community projects in the West Country city, who also added 100 new names to their volunteer platform. They launched their site in September, and have really engaged with Volunteer Makers’ ethos of using social media to build engagement and embed the organisation in their community.

Christmas hats off as well to trailblazing Tyne and Wear Museums – one of Volunteer Makers’ original pioneer partners – who have over 1,500 volunteers signed up at nine sites across the region via their site.

Finally, we must mention Essex-based community project Snapping the Stiletto, which in addition to garnering media interest, has also engaged 150 new volunteers since March. The project celebrates the lives and achievements of the women of Essex, and its success forms the launchpad for the Essex Women’s History Festival, in March 2019.

Although Volunteer Makers has proved a popular way to improve engagement with arts and heritage organisations, this is far from being the only sector the digital platform works with.

Carymoor Environmental Trust is a nature reserve and education centre developed on a landfill site in the heart of Somerset. The charity has just launched its Volunteer Makers’ site, looking to build its volunteering base and make supporting their mission fun via a series of challenges.

This month we also delivered a Volunteer Makers’ strategic training workshop to Horse World, a charity that supports rescue horses working with young people based in Bristol.

Further north, last month saw another new Volunteer Makers’ site launch. University of Liverpool Museums runs two sites – the Victoria Gallery and Museum and the Garstang Museum of Archaeology – both recognised as national centres of excellence. Volunteers speak of the sites as jewels of the city of Liverpool, and the Volunteer Makers’ platform will help the parent organisation garner new faces – and make the most of those already there!

As well as site launches, Volunteer Makers just ran a workshop in a city we are already familiar with via pioneers Heritage MK. This time it was with MK Gallery, who are looking to engage more supporters when their expanded site opens next year.

Anyone interested in finding out what a training workshop next year can do for your organisations’ engagement, please click here. We’d love to hear from you.

In 2019 Volunteer Makers will be further developing and rolling out its Sustainable Libraries programme – bringing the micro-volunteering and digital engagement message to this much cherished, but economically threatened, sector.

We are also in advanced talks with a region over a new strategic programme called Connecting Communities, Transforming Lives. Watch this space for news!

We wish all our partners, stakeholders, volunteers and staff a very happy Christmas holiday and look forward to working with you in 2019.

Launches at all Points East and West for Volunteer Makers in the Summer

The summer months were no holiday for the Volunteer Makers’ team, with demand for the blended volunteering model and tech still high and new organisations and groups signing up to our vision.

The warm weather saw the launch of two major heritage groups’ Volunteer Makers portals.

Colchester and Ipswich Museums operate at six fascinating sites in Suffolk and north Essex. 

Ipswich Museum tells the story of this ancient town, and also has large galleries of exotic fauna, many collected in Victorian times, including one of the most comprehensive collection of British birds in the world.

Sharing the Victorian home with the museum, the town’s art gallery contains several notable works, including a number associated with the Suffolk-based Benton End Group, who were a major influence on 20th Century British art. Beautiful Christchurch Mansion, which dates to Tudor times, is the group’s third attraction in Ipswich.

In Colchester, there is a Natural History Museum, based in a historic church, Hollytrees Museum, an old mansion with some fascinating facts about the town – including that it was where the nursery rhyme Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was written!

The group also administers Colchester Castle, a grand Norman edifice, containing the largest Keep in England.

Colchester and Ipswich Museums have been Arts Council England supported pioneers in the Volunteer Makers programme, and their new portal showcases a range of imaginative challenges to engage the public in volunteering and supporting their sites.

Turning westward, another multi-site heritage group launch. Eleven organisations in Gloucester have joined together to form the Engage In Gloucester volunteering group.

Members include Gloucester Cathedral; the city’s museums and archives; its Civic trust and History Festival, and the ruined abbey of Llanthony Secunda.

Also in the group is the National Waterways Museum, which tells the story of Britain’s canal network and its crucial role in the economic development of the country, from a dockside setting.

Like their eastern counterparts, the Gloucester group has been a pioneer body, supported by Arts Council England, to develop and refine Volunteer Makers through feedback and trialling, working with our developers Tickbox Marketing.

Engage In Gloucester has a wide array of volunteer challenges and opportunities on its portal, fully engaging with the Micro-Volunteering revolution.

Spreading the word on micro and blended volunteering was Programme Director Claire’s task, when she joined Pippa Smith, Project Manager of the acclaimed Snapping the Stiletto project, at the GEM conference in Nottingham.

Snapping the Stiletto aims to counter the negative clichés surrounding “Essex Girls” by highlighting the positive and inspirational stories of women in the county.

Based on a collaborative and co-production approach, and utilising the stories, research and hard-work of 130 volunteers, it has been a major success, and was recently featured on BBC News.

The broadcaster noted the stories of these remarkable women “are being told not by the museums but by the volunteers. It is led by the women of Essex themselves”.

Claire and Pippa told the Conference that getting wise with how volunteers were used is essential for the heritage sector in the 21st Century.

But it isn’t just heritage organisations, that Volunteer Makers works with.

Recently, Claire carried out a training programme for the Cri du Chat Syndrome Support Group. Cri du Chat is a rare, but devastating genetic condition that affects 1 in 50,000 babies.  Its Volunteer Makers portal will bring carers and other supporters together to raise money, and donate practical help.

Also outside the museum and gallery hub of Volunteer Makers groups is Carymoor Environmental Trust in Somerset.

The trust has worked to “green” and encourage wildlife back to 100 acres of capped landfill site near Castle Cary.

As well as conservation work, it is a major educational destination for school groups wanting to find out about nature, land use and sustainability. Volunteers are at the heart of Carymoor’s work. Volunteer Makers’ training with the Trust spread the word on the new, smart approach to managing volunteer time.

So, a busy summer – and lots more in the calendar – for Volunteer Makers.

 

Engaging and Developing Supporters – 5 User Tips

At Volunteer Makers we’re always looking for ways to improve the success of our user community in engaging with volunteers and supporters, and to share success too.

Spoiler alert! Volunteer Makers requires the same sustained approach to supporter development as any other system. The difference Volunteer Makers can make is the potential of social digital and flexible opportunities to reach out and appeal to a wider and more diverse supporter base.

Here are our top tips, collated from our successful user community:
Tip 1
In at #1, social media – particularly effective for reaching new volunteers. Although it’s not rocket science, it’s surprising how easy it is to miss the opportunity of this tool to share Challenges, engage with supporters and share your supporter stories. Successful users are putting most, if not all, of their Challenges on social media and making the most of their reach. Remember, Volunteer Makers has social media sharing tools embedded in the site to make it even easier!

Every new challenge that goes on is mentioned on all our social media feeds for us and the town. I would say that digital media has been the most successful marketing tool, particularly as we have quite a good reach already” (Tamsin Bough, Falmouth Art Gallery).

I post at least one original tweet or post each day and then obviously we re-post relevant content. Primarily I use it in a “Have you seen this volunteering opportunity with X” type vein, but I also share events that are happening at the organisations that use Engage in Gloucester and celebrate local volunteers or volunteering in general” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

Tip 2
Your website – again, not rocket science, but do make sure your Volunteer Makers’ site is on there, is easy to find, and cross references support and volunteering. As your Volunteer Makers’ site is branded to look like your core website, this should be seamless.

Our website has directed many people to sign up, having a section explaining about Volunteer Makers” (Jessica Hartshorn, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum)

Tip 3
To reach existing supporters and volunteers, and to convert them to being a Volunteer Maker, make the most of your mailing assets – to existing volunteers and supporters (all GDPR compliant of course!), direct emails (add a clickable banner to the footer of all staff emails) or newsletter articles.

Tip 4
There’s nothing wrong with analogue! Engage new supporters offline too. Posters, flyers, postcards and bookmarks have all been tried and tested, directing people to Volunteer Makers’ sites.

I’ve got three pull up banners, logoed stickers and postcards to advertise the site. I go out to events such as the History Festival, residents’ weekend, local community shows and have a stall, chat to people about the site and hand out the postcards and stickers. I also made sure that the postcards are a bit thicker and substantial so they don’t just get immediately discarded and they also work as bookmarks” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

 

 

Tip 5
More offline activity – you can still showcase Volunteer Makers and drive people to your site via traditional methods such as volunteer fairs and events (on or offsite). It might help to have a laptop/tablet to showcase what you offer, how it works and encourage sign ups on the spot.

I recommend face-to-face contact at open days – ensuring they sign up on the spot!” (Katy Hammond, Museum of Oxford)

The most labour intensive, but I think the best conversion rate has to be face to face contact with people” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

Summary
We ask our users to put together a plan before they launch for delivering Volunteer Makers – but a plan isn’t just for launch! You will need to sustain your supporter development all year round, and be prepared to experiment with new approaches and maximise your existing assets. As you would for any audience engagement in your organisation.

Case Study
Sofia Carosi, Corporate, Community and Events Fundraiser at HorseWorld tells us how she’s put this into practice since launching in January this year:

I’ve found that social media, particularly Facebook, has been the best way to gain new members on HorseWorld Heroes (HH), as it reaches many more people and is an easy platform to get info in front of them more than once, as opposed to sending a letter where they read it then throw it away. I post regularly on social media about the new site and that we’re looking for specific challenges to be met etc. I’ve set the cover photos on all our social media accounts to show HH and pinned posts to the top of all news feeds. I also ran a sponsored Facebook Advert for 7 days (spent £50, 315 link clicks).

I’ve made staff add clickable banners to their emails so it reaches new audiences outside of my control (without breaching GDPR). I sent direct emails to all current staff and active volunteers and arranged reminders to be sent to those who have not opened the first mailing. I sent emails via MailChimp to active supporters with email consent.

I posted within a campaign mail out to supporters a printed bookmark (that I made myself and printed here to keep costs down) with details of the website on. HorseWorld Heroes will also have a page in the next HorseWorld newsletter and will be pushed out further at events with flyers and bookmarks in goody bags.

Popular challenges are mainly within the Just A Minute category, with Follow On Social Media topping this. An Hour or Two category challenges are also popular, with Knit/Crochet Horses or Donkeys being most clicked on and accepted. Because of this, we will have a lot more handmade horses/donkeys to sell at the open days (which from experience we know are very popular) so will increase our income as a result of the new Volunteer Makers system.

We have gained a new potential regular Research Volunteer to help with #BreakTheChain, and a new and regular Discovery Volunteer. Furthermore, we have acquired two offers of raffle prizes for the Open Days and one offer of clothing for Discovery students because of HorseWorld Heroes.

You can find their site here

Anna Bryant, MA, AMA, Marketing and Engagement Manager, Volunteer Makers
Anna has worked in and for museums of all shapes and sizes across curatorial, interpretation, audience development and marketing roles during the last 19 years.

Volunteer Makers ends the year with a bang – 1000s of people now signed up doing 10,000s of challenges, here are some shining examples

The approach to the Festive Season hasn’t slowed the pace of the Volunteer Makers’ team and our partner organisations. We now have thousands of people signed up to Volunteer Makers’ platforms across England and have engaged with organisations operating over 200 sites!

As we prepare to leave a busy and successful 2018 for Volunteer Makers, now’s the time to look at some of our “Christmas stars” who’ve upped their digital game via Volunteer Makers.

The Museum of Oxford is a pioneer organisation within Volunteer Makers, and despite being closed for redevelopment until 2020, has signed up more than 100 volunteers since the launch of their site in February.

That success was matched by Engage in Gloucester, a consortium of arts, heritage, cultural and community projects in the West Country city, who also added 100 new names to their volunteer platform. They launched their site in September, and have really engaged with Volunteer Makers’ ethos of using social media to build engagement and embed the organisation in their community.

Christmas hats off as well to trailblazing Tyne and Wear Museums – one of Volunteer Makers’ original pioneer partners – who have over 1,500 volunteers signed up at nine sites across the region via their site.

Finally, we must mention Essex-based community project Snapping the Stiletto, which in addition to garnering media interest, has also engaged 150 new volunteers since March. The project celebrates the lives and achievements of the women of Essex, and its success forms the launchpad for the Essex Women’s History Festival, in March 2019.

Although Volunteer Makers has proved a popular way to improve engagement with arts and heritage organisations, this is far from being the only sector the digital platform works with.

Carymoor Environmental Trust is a nature reserve and education centre developed on a landfill site in the heart of Somerset. The charity has just launched its Volunteer Makers’ site, looking to build its volunteering base and make supporting their mission fun via a series of challenges.

This month we also delivered a Volunteer Makers’ strategic training workshop to Horse World, a charity that supports rescue horses working with young people based in Bristol.

Further north, last month saw another new Volunteer Makers’ site launch. University of Liverpool Museums runs two sites – the Victoria Gallery and Museum and the Garstang Museum of Archaeology – both recognised as national centres of excellence. Volunteers speak of the sites as jewels of the city of Liverpool, and the Volunteer Makers’ platform will help the parent organisation garner new faces – and make the most of those already there!

As well as site launches, Volunteer Makers just ran a workshop in a city we are already familiar with via pioneers Heritage MK. This time it was with MK Gallery, who are looking to engage more supporters when their expanded site opens next year.

Anyone interested in finding out what a training workshop next year can do for your organisations’ engagement, please click here. We’d love to hear from you.

In 2019 Volunteer Makers will be further developing and rolling out its Sustainable Libraries programme – bringing the micro-volunteering and digital engagement message to this much cherished, but economically threatened, sector.

We are also in advanced talks with a region over a new strategic programme called Connecting Communities, Transforming Lives. Watch this space for news!

We wish all our partners, stakeholders, volunteers and staff a very happy Christmas holiday and look forward to working with you in 2019.

Launches at all Points East and West for Volunteer Makers in the Summer

The summer months were no holiday for the Volunteer Makers’ team, with demand for the blended volunteering model and tech still high and new organisations and groups signing up to our vision.

The warm weather saw the launch of two major heritage groups’ Volunteer Makers portals.

Colchester and Ipswich Museums operate at six fascinating sites in Suffolk and north Essex. 

Ipswich Museum tells the story of this ancient town, and also has large galleries of exotic fauna, many collected in Victorian times, including one of the most comprehensive collection of British birds in the world.

Sharing the Victorian home with the museum, the town’s art gallery contains several notable works, including a number associated with the Suffolk-based Benton End Group, who were a major influence on 20th Century British art. Beautiful Christchurch Mansion, which dates to Tudor times, is the group’s third attraction in Ipswich.

In Colchester, there is a Natural History Museum, based in a historic church, Hollytrees Museum, an old mansion with some fascinating facts about the town – including that it was where the nursery rhyme Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was written!

The group also administers Colchester Castle, a grand Norman edifice, containing the largest Keep in England.

Colchester and Ipswich Museums have been Arts Council England supported pioneers in the Volunteer Makers programme, and their new portal showcases a range of imaginative challenges to engage the public in volunteering and supporting their sites.

Turning westward, another multi-site heritage group launch. Eleven organisations in Gloucester have joined together to form the Engage In Gloucester volunteering group.

Members include Gloucester Cathedral; the city’s museums and archives; its Civic trust and History Festival, and the ruined abbey of Llanthony Secunda.

Also in the group is the National Waterways Museum, which tells the story of Britain’s canal network and its crucial role in the economic development of the country, from a dockside setting.

Like their eastern counterparts, the Gloucester group has been a pioneer body, supported by Arts Council England, to develop and refine Volunteer Makers through feedback and trialling, working with our developers Tickbox Marketing.

Engage In Gloucester has a wide array of volunteer challenges and opportunities on its portal, fully engaging with the Micro-Volunteering revolution.

Spreading the word on micro and blended volunteering was Programme Director Claire’s task, when she joined Pippa Smith, Project Manager of the acclaimed Snapping the Stiletto project, at the GEM conference in Nottingham.

Snapping the Stiletto aims to counter the negative clichés surrounding “Essex Girls” by highlighting the positive and inspirational stories of women in the county.

Based on a collaborative and co-production approach, and utilising the stories, research and hard-work of 130 volunteers, it has been a major success, and was recently featured on BBC News.

The broadcaster noted the stories of these remarkable women “are being told not by the museums but by the volunteers. It is led by the women of Essex themselves”.

Claire and Pippa told the Conference that getting wise with how volunteers were used is essential for the heritage sector in the 21st Century.

But it isn’t just heritage organisations, that Volunteer Makers works with.

Recently, Claire carried out a training programme for the Cri du Chat Syndrome Support Group. Cri du Chat is a rare, but devastating genetic condition that affects 1 in 50,000 babies.  Its Volunteer Makers portal will bring carers and other supporters together to raise money, and donate practical help.

Also outside the museum and gallery hub of Volunteer Makers groups is Carymoor Environmental Trust in Somerset.

The trust has worked to “green” and encourage wildlife back to 100 acres of capped landfill site near Castle Cary.

As well as conservation work, it is a major educational destination for school groups wanting to find out about nature, land use and sustainability. Volunteers are at the heart of Carymoor’s work. Volunteer Makers’ training with the Trust spread the word on the new, smart approach to managing volunteer time.

So, a busy summer – and lots more in the calendar – for Volunteer Makers.

 

Engaging and Developing Supporters – 5 User Tips

At Volunteer Makers we’re always looking for ways to improve the success of our user community in engaging with volunteers and supporters, and to share success too.

Spoiler alert! Volunteer Makers requires the same sustained approach to supporter development as any other system. The difference Volunteer Makers can make is the potential of social digital and flexible opportunities to reach out and appeal to a wider and more diverse supporter base.

Here are our top tips, collated from our successful user community:
Tip 1
In at #1, social media – particularly effective for reaching new volunteers. Although it’s not rocket science, it’s surprising how easy it is to miss the opportunity of this tool to share Challenges, engage with supporters and share your supporter stories. Successful users are putting most, if not all, of their Challenges on social media and making the most of their reach. Remember, Volunteer Makers has social media sharing tools embedded in the site to make it even easier!

Every new challenge that goes on is mentioned on all our social media feeds for us and the town. I would say that digital media has been the most successful marketing tool, particularly as we have quite a good reach already” (Tamsin Bough, Falmouth Art Gallery).

I post at least one original tweet or post each day and then obviously we re-post relevant content. Primarily I use it in a “Have you seen this volunteering opportunity with X” type vein, but I also share events that are happening at the organisations that use Engage in Gloucester and celebrate local volunteers or volunteering in general” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

Tip 2
Your website – again, not rocket science, but do make sure your Volunteer Makers’ site is on there, is easy to find, and cross references support and volunteering. As your Volunteer Makers’ site is branded to look like your core website, this should be seamless.

Our website has directed many people to sign up, having a section explaining about Volunteer Makers” (Jessica Hartshorn, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum)

Tip 3
To reach existing supporters and volunteers, and to convert them to being a Volunteer Maker, make the most of your mailing assets – to existing volunteers and supporters (all GDPR compliant of course!), direct emails (add a clickable banner to the footer of all staff emails) or newsletter articles.

Tip 4
There’s nothing wrong with analogue! Engage new supporters offline too. Posters, flyers, postcards and bookmarks have all been tried and tested, directing people to Volunteer Makers’ sites.

I’ve got three pull up banners, logoed stickers and postcards to advertise the site. I go out to events such as the History Festival, residents’ weekend, local community shows and have a stall, chat to people about the site and hand out the postcards and stickers. I also made sure that the postcards are a bit thicker and substantial so they don’t just get immediately discarded and they also work as bookmarks” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

 

 

Tip 5
More offline activity – you can still showcase Volunteer Makers and drive people to your site via traditional methods such as volunteer fairs and events (on or offsite). It might help to have a laptop/tablet to showcase what you offer, how it works and encourage sign ups on the spot.

I recommend face-to-face contact at open days – ensuring they sign up on the spot!” (Katy Hammond, Museum of Oxford)

The most labour intensive, but I think the best conversion rate has to be face to face contact with people” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

Summary
We ask our users to put together a plan before they launch for delivering Volunteer Makers – but a plan isn’t just for launch! You will need to sustain your supporter development all year round, and be prepared to experiment with new approaches and maximise your existing assets. As you would for any audience engagement in your organisation.

Case Study
Sofia Carosi, Corporate, Community and Events Fundraiser at HorseWorld tells us how she’s put this into practice since launching in January this year:

I’ve found that social media, particularly Facebook, has been the best way to gain new members on HorseWorld Heroes (HH), as it reaches many more people and is an easy platform to get info in front of them more than once, as opposed to sending a letter where they read it then throw it away. I post regularly on social media about the new site and that we’re looking for specific challenges to be met etc. I’ve set the cover photos on all our social media accounts to show HH and pinned posts to the top of all news feeds. I also ran a sponsored Facebook Advert for 7 days (spent £50, 315 link clicks).

I’ve made staff add clickable banners to their emails so it reaches new audiences outside of my control (without breaching GDPR). I sent direct emails to all current staff and active volunteers and arranged reminders to be sent to those who have not opened the first mailing. I sent emails via MailChimp to active supporters with email consent.

I posted within a campaign mail out to supporters a printed bookmark (that I made myself and printed here to keep costs down) with details of the website on. HorseWorld Heroes will also have a page in the next HorseWorld newsletter and will be pushed out further at events with flyers and bookmarks in goody bags.

Popular challenges are mainly within the Just A Minute category, with Follow On Social Media topping this. An Hour or Two category challenges are also popular, with Knit/Crochet Horses or Donkeys being most clicked on and accepted. Because of this, we will have a lot more handmade horses/donkeys to sell at the open days (which from experience we know are very popular) so will increase our income as a result of the new Volunteer Makers system.

We have gained a new potential regular Research Volunteer to help with #BreakTheChain, and a new and regular Discovery Volunteer. Furthermore, we have acquired two offers of raffle prizes for the Open Days and one offer of clothing for Discovery students because of HorseWorld Heroes.

You can find their site here

Anna Bryant, MA, AMA, Marketing and Engagement Manager, Volunteer Makers
Anna has worked in and for museums of all shapes and sizes across curatorial, interpretation, audience development and marketing roles during the last 19 years.

Volunteer Makers ends the year with a bang – 1000s of people now signed up doing 10,000s of challenges, here are some shining examples

The approach to the Festive Season hasn’t slowed the pace of the Volunteer Makers’ team and our partner organisations. We now have thousands of people signed up to Volunteer Makers’ platforms across England and have engaged with organisations operating over 200 sites!

As we prepare to leave a busy and successful 2018 for Volunteer Makers, now’s the time to look at some of our “Christmas stars” who’ve upped their digital game via Volunteer Makers.

The Museum of Oxford is a pioneer organisation within Volunteer Makers, and despite being closed for redevelopment until 2020, has signed up more than 100 volunteers since the launch of their site in February.

That success was matched by Engage in Gloucester, a consortium of arts, heritage, cultural and community projects in the West Country city, who also added 100 new names to their volunteer platform. They launched their site in September, and have really engaged with Volunteer Makers’ ethos of using social media to build engagement and embed the organisation in their community.

Christmas hats off as well to trailblazing Tyne and Wear Museums – one of Volunteer Makers’ original pioneer partners – who have over 1,500 volunteers signed up at nine sites across the region via their site.

Finally, we must mention Essex-based community project Snapping the Stiletto, which in addition to garnering media interest, has also engaged 150 new volunteers since March. The project celebrates the lives and achievements of the women of Essex, and its success forms the launchpad for the Essex Women’s History Festival, in March 2019.

Although Volunteer Makers has proved a popular way to improve engagement with arts and heritage organisations, this is far from being the only sector the digital platform works with.

Carymoor Environmental Trust is a nature reserve and education centre developed on a landfill site in the heart of Somerset. The charity has just launched its Volunteer Makers’ site, looking to build its volunteering base and make supporting their mission fun via a series of challenges.

This month we also delivered a Volunteer Makers’ strategic training workshop to Horse World, a charity that supports rescue horses working with young people based in Bristol.

Further north, last month saw another new Volunteer Makers’ site launch. University of Liverpool Museums runs two sites – the Victoria Gallery and Museum and the Garstang Museum of Archaeology – both recognised as national centres of excellence. Volunteers speak of the sites as jewels of the city of Liverpool, and the Volunteer Makers’ platform will help the parent organisation garner new faces – and make the most of those already there!

As well as site launches, Volunteer Makers just ran a workshop in a city we are already familiar with via pioneers Heritage MK. This time it was with MK Gallery, who are looking to engage more supporters when their expanded site opens next year.

Anyone interested in finding out what a training workshop next year can do for your organisations’ engagement, please click here. We’d love to hear from you.

In 2019 Volunteer Makers will be further developing and rolling out its Sustainable Libraries programme – bringing the micro-volunteering and digital engagement message to this much cherished, but economically threatened, sector.

We are also in advanced talks with a region over a new strategic programme called Connecting Communities, Transforming Lives. Watch this space for news!

We wish all our partners, stakeholders, volunteers and staff a very happy Christmas holiday and look forward to working with you in 2019.

Launches at all Points East and West for Volunteer Makers in the Summer

The summer months were no holiday for the Volunteer Makers’ team, with demand for the blended volunteering model and tech still high and new organisations and groups signing up to our vision.

The warm weather saw the launch of two major heritage groups’ Volunteer Makers portals.

Colchester and Ipswich Museums operate at six fascinating sites in Suffolk and north Essex. 

Ipswich Museum tells the story of this ancient town, and also has large galleries of exotic fauna, many collected in Victorian times, including one of the most comprehensive collection of British birds in the world.

Sharing the Victorian home with the museum, the town’s art gallery contains several notable works, including a number associated with the Suffolk-based Benton End Group, who were a major influence on 20th Century British art. Beautiful Christchurch Mansion, which dates to Tudor times, is the group’s third attraction in Ipswich.

In Colchester, there is a Natural History Museum, based in a historic church, Hollytrees Museum, an old mansion with some fascinating facts about the town – including that it was where the nursery rhyme Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was written!

The group also administers Colchester Castle, a grand Norman edifice, containing the largest Keep in England.

Colchester and Ipswich Museums have been Arts Council England supported pioneers in the Volunteer Makers programme, and their new portal showcases a range of imaginative challenges to engage the public in volunteering and supporting their sites.

Turning westward, another multi-site heritage group launch. Eleven organisations in Gloucester have joined together to form the Engage In Gloucester volunteering group.

Members include Gloucester Cathedral; the city’s museums and archives; its Civic trust and History Festival, and the ruined abbey of Llanthony Secunda.

Also in the group is the National Waterways Museum, which tells the story of Britain’s canal network and its crucial role in the economic development of the country, from a dockside setting.

Like their eastern counterparts, the Gloucester group has been a pioneer body, supported by Arts Council England, to develop and refine Volunteer Makers through feedback and trialling, working with our developers Tickbox Marketing.

Engage In Gloucester has a wide array of volunteer challenges and opportunities on its portal, fully engaging with the Micro-Volunteering revolution.

Spreading the word on micro and blended volunteering was Programme Director Claire’s task, when she joined Pippa Smith, Project Manager of the acclaimed Snapping the Stiletto project, at the GEM conference in Nottingham.

Snapping the Stiletto aims to counter the negative clichés surrounding “Essex Girls” by highlighting the positive and inspirational stories of women in the county.

Based on a collaborative and co-production approach, and utilising the stories, research and hard-work of 130 volunteers, it has been a major success, and was recently featured on BBC News.

The broadcaster noted the stories of these remarkable women “are being told not by the museums but by the volunteers. It is led by the women of Essex themselves”.

Claire and Pippa told the Conference that getting wise with how volunteers were used is essential for the heritage sector in the 21st Century.

But it isn’t just heritage organisations, that Volunteer Makers works with.

Recently, Claire carried out a training programme for the Cri du Chat Syndrome Support Group. Cri du Chat is a rare, but devastating genetic condition that affects 1 in 50,000 babies.  Its Volunteer Makers portal will bring carers and other supporters together to raise money, and donate practical help.

Also outside the museum and gallery hub of Volunteer Makers groups is Carymoor Environmental Trust in Somerset.

The trust has worked to “green” and encourage wildlife back to 100 acres of capped landfill site near Castle Cary.

As well as conservation work, it is a major educational destination for school groups wanting to find out about nature, land use and sustainability. Volunteers are at the heart of Carymoor’s work. Volunteer Makers’ training with the Trust spread the word on the new, smart approach to managing volunteer time.

So, a busy summer – and lots more in the calendar – for Volunteer Makers.

 

Engaging and Developing Supporters – 5 User Tips

At Volunteer Makers we’re always looking for ways to improve the success of our user community in engaging with volunteers and supporters, and to share success too.

Spoiler alert! Volunteer Makers requires the same sustained approach to supporter development as any other system. The difference Volunteer Makers can make is the potential of social digital and flexible opportunities to reach out and appeal to a wider and more diverse supporter base.

Here are our top tips, collated from our successful user community:
Tip 1
In at #1, social media – particularly effective for reaching new volunteers. Although it’s not rocket science, it’s surprising how easy it is to miss the opportunity of this tool to share Challenges, engage with supporters and share your supporter stories. Successful users are putting most, if not all, of their Challenges on social media and making the most of their reach. Remember, Volunteer Makers has social media sharing tools embedded in the site to make it even easier!

Every new challenge that goes on is mentioned on all our social media feeds for us and the town. I would say that digital media has been the most successful marketing tool, particularly as we have quite a good reach already” (Tamsin Bough, Falmouth Art Gallery).

I post at least one original tweet or post each day and then obviously we re-post relevant content. Primarily I use it in a “Have you seen this volunteering opportunity with X” type vein, but I also share events that are happening at the organisations that use Engage in Gloucester and celebrate local volunteers or volunteering in general” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

Tip 2
Your website – again, not rocket science, but do make sure your Volunteer Makers’ site is on there, is easy to find, and cross references support and volunteering. As your Volunteer Makers’ site is branded to look like your core website, this should be seamless.

Our website has directed many people to sign up, having a section explaining about Volunteer Makers” (Jessica Hartshorn, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum)

Tip 3
To reach existing supporters and volunteers, and to convert them to being a Volunteer Maker, make the most of your mailing assets – to existing volunteers and supporters (all GDPR compliant of course!), direct emails (add a clickable banner to the footer of all staff emails) or newsletter articles.

Tip 4
There’s nothing wrong with analogue! Engage new supporters offline too. Posters, flyers, postcards and bookmarks have all been tried and tested, directing people to Volunteer Makers’ sites.

I’ve got three pull up banners, logoed stickers and postcards to advertise the site. I go out to events such as the History Festival, residents’ weekend, local community shows and have a stall, chat to people about the site and hand out the postcards and stickers. I also made sure that the postcards are a bit thicker and substantial so they don’t just get immediately discarded and they also work as bookmarks” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

 

 

Tip 5
More offline activity – you can still showcase Volunteer Makers and drive people to your site via traditional methods such as volunteer fairs and events (on or offsite). It might help to have a laptop/tablet to showcase what you offer, how it works and encourage sign ups on the spot.

I recommend face-to-face contact at open days – ensuring they sign up on the spot!” (Katy Hammond, Museum of Oxford)

The most labour intensive, but I think the best conversion rate has to be face to face contact with people” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

Summary
We ask our users to put together a plan before they launch for delivering Volunteer Makers – but a plan isn’t just for launch! You will need to sustain your supporter development all year round, and be prepared to experiment with new approaches and maximise your existing assets. As you would for any audience engagement in your organisation.

Case Study
Sofia Carosi, Corporate, Community and Events Fundraiser at HorseWorld tells us how she’s put this into practice since launching in January this year:

I’ve found that social media, particularly Facebook, has been the best way to gain new members on HorseWorld Heroes (HH), as it reaches many more people and is an easy platform to get info in front of them more than once, as opposed to sending a letter where they read it then throw it away. I post regularly on social media about the new site and that we’re looking for specific challenges to be met etc. I’ve set the cover photos on all our social media accounts to show HH and pinned posts to the top of all news feeds. I also ran a sponsored Facebook Advert for 7 days (spent £50, 315 link clicks).

I’ve made staff add clickable banners to their emails so it reaches new audiences outside of my control (without breaching GDPR). I sent direct emails to all current staff and active volunteers and arranged reminders to be sent to those who have not opened the first mailing. I sent emails via MailChimp to active supporters with email consent.

I posted within a campaign mail out to supporters a printed bookmark (that I made myself and printed here to keep costs down) with details of the website on. HorseWorld Heroes will also have a page in the next HorseWorld newsletter and will be pushed out further at events with flyers and bookmarks in goody bags.

Popular challenges are mainly within the Just A Minute category, with Follow On Social Media topping this. An Hour or Two category challenges are also popular, with Knit/Crochet Horses or Donkeys being most clicked on and accepted. Because of this, we will have a lot more handmade horses/donkeys to sell at the open days (which from experience we know are very popular) so will increase our income as a result of the new Volunteer Makers system.

We have gained a new potential regular Research Volunteer to help with #BreakTheChain, and a new and regular Discovery Volunteer. Furthermore, we have acquired two offers of raffle prizes for the Open Days and one offer of clothing for Discovery students because of HorseWorld Heroes.

You can find their site here

Anna Bryant, MA, AMA, Marketing and Engagement Manager, Volunteer Makers
Anna has worked in and for museums of all shapes and sizes across curatorial, interpretation, audience development and marketing roles during the last 19 years.

Volunteer Makers ends the year with a bang – 1000s of people now signed up doing 10,000s of challenges, here are some shining examples

The approach to the Festive Season hasn’t slowed the pace of the Volunteer Makers’ team and our partner organisations. We now have thousands of people signed up to Volunteer Makers’ platforms across England and have engaged with organisations operating over 200 sites!

As we prepare to leave a busy and successful 2018 for Volunteer Makers, now’s the time to look at some of our “Christmas stars” who’ve upped their digital game via Volunteer Makers.

The Museum of Oxford is a pioneer organisation within Volunteer Makers, and despite being closed for redevelopment until 2020, has signed up more than 100 volunteers since the launch of their site in February.

That success was matched by Engage in Gloucester, a consortium of arts, heritage, cultural and community projects in the West Country city, who also added 100 new names to their volunteer platform. They launched their site in September, and have really engaged with Volunteer Makers’ ethos of using social media to build engagement and embed the organisation in their community.

Christmas hats off as well to trailblazing Tyne and Wear Museums – one of Volunteer Makers’ original pioneer partners – who have over 1,500 volunteers signed up at nine sites across the region via their site.

Finally, we must mention Essex-based community project Snapping the Stiletto, which in addition to garnering media interest, has also engaged 150 new volunteers since March. The project celebrates the lives and achievements of the women of Essex, and its success forms the launchpad for the Essex Women’s History Festival, in March 2019.

Although Volunteer Makers has proved a popular way to improve engagement with arts and heritage organisations, this is far from being the only sector the digital platform works with.

Carymoor Environmental Trust is a nature reserve and education centre developed on a landfill site in the heart of Somerset. The charity has just launched its Volunteer Makers’ site, looking to build its volunteering base and make supporting their mission fun via a series of challenges.

This month we also delivered a Volunteer Makers’ strategic training workshop to Horse World, a charity that supports rescue horses working with young people based in Bristol.

Further north, last month saw another new Volunteer Makers’ site launch. University of Liverpool Museums runs two sites – the Victoria Gallery and Museum and the Garstang Museum of Archaeology – both recognised as national centres of excellence. Volunteers speak of the sites as jewels of the city of Liverpool, and the Volunteer Makers’ platform will help the parent organisation garner new faces – and make the most of those already there!

As well as site launches, Volunteer Makers just ran a workshop in a city we are already familiar with via pioneers Heritage MK. This time it was with MK Gallery, who are looking to engage more supporters when their expanded site opens next year.

Anyone interested in finding out what a training workshop next year can do for your organisations’ engagement, please click here. We’d love to hear from you.

In 2019 Volunteer Makers will be further developing and rolling out its Sustainable Libraries programme – bringing the micro-volunteering and digital engagement message to this much cherished, but economically threatened, sector.

We are also in advanced talks with a region over a new strategic programme called Connecting Communities, Transforming Lives. Watch this space for news!

We wish all our partners, stakeholders, volunteers and staff a very happy Christmas holiday and look forward to working with you in 2019.

Launches at all Points East and West for Volunteer Makers in the Summer

The summer months were no holiday for the Volunteer Makers’ team, with demand for the blended volunteering model and tech still high and new organisations and groups signing up to our vision.

The warm weather saw the launch of two major heritage groups’ Volunteer Makers portals.

Colchester and Ipswich Museums operate at six fascinating sites in Suffolk and north Essex. 

Ipswich Museum tells the story of this ancient town, and also has large galleries of exotic fauna, many collected in Victorian times, including one of the most comprehensive collection of British birds in the world.

Sharing the Victorian home with the museum, the town’s art gallery contains several notable works, including a number associated with the Suffolk-based Benton End Group, who were a major influence on 20th Century British art. Beautiful Christchurch Mansion, which dates to Tudor times, is the group’s third attraction in Ipswich.

In Colchester, there is a Natural History Museum, based in a historic church, Hollytrees Museum, an old mansion with some fascinating facts about the town – including that it was where the nursery rhyme Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was written!

The group also administers Colchester Castle, a grand Norman edifice, containing the largest Keep in England.

Colchester and Ipswich Museums have been Arts Council England supported pioneers in the Volunteer Makers programme, and their new portal showcases a range of imaginative challenges to engage the public in volunteering and supporting their sites.

Turning westward, another multi-site heritage group launch. Eleven organisations in Gloucester have joined together to form the Engage In Gloucester volunteering group.

Members include Gloucester Cathedral; the city’s museums and archives; its Civic trust and History Festival, and the ruined abbey of Llanthony Secunda.

Also in the group is the National Waterways Museum, which tells the story of Britain’s canal network and its crucial role in the economic development of the country, from a dockside setting.

Like their eastern counterparts, the Gloucester group has been a pioneer body, supported by Arts Council England, to develop and refine Volunteer Makers through feedback and trialling, working with our developers Tickbox Marketing.

Engage In Gloucester has a wide array of volunteer challenges and opportunities on its portal, fully engaging with the Micro-Volunteering revolution.

Spreading the word on micro and blended volunteering was Programme Director Claire’s task, when she joined Pippa Smith, Project Manager of the acclaimed Snapping the Stiletto project, at the GEM conference in Nottingham.

Snapping the Stiletto aims to counter the negative clichés surrounding “Essex Girls” by highlighting the positive and inspirational stories of women in the county.

Based on a collaborative and co-production approach, and utilising the stories, research and hard-work of 130 volunteers, it has been a major success, and was recently featured on BBC News.

The broadcaster noted the stories of these remarkable women “are being told not by the museums but by the volunteers. It is led by the women of Essex themselves”.

Claire and Pippa told the Conference that getting wise with how volunteers were used is essential for the heritage sector in the 21st Century.

But it isn’t just heritage organisations, that Volunteer Makers works with.

Recently, Claire carried out a training programme for the Cri du Chat Syndrome Support Group. Cri du Chat is a rare, but devastating genetic condition that affects 1 in 50,000 babies.  Its Volunteer Makers portal will bring carers and other supporters together to raise money, and donate practical help.

Also outside the museum and gallery hub of Volunteer Makers groups is Carymoor Environmental Trust in Somerset.

The trust has worked to “green” and encourage wildlife back to 100 acres of capped landfill site near Castle Cary.

As well as conservation work, it is a major educational destination for school groups wanting to find out about nature, land use and sustainability. Volunteers are at the heart of Carymoor’s work. Volunteer Makers’ training with the Trust spread the word on the new, smart approach to managing volunteer time.

So, a busy summer – and lots more in the calendar – for Volunteer Makers.

 

Engaging and Developing Supporters – 5 User Tips

At Volunteer Makers we’re always looking for ways to improve the success of our user community in engaging with volunteers and supporters, and to share success too.

Spoiler alert! Volunteer Makers requires the same sustained approach to supporter development as any other system. The difference Volunteer Makers can make is the potential of social digital and flexible opportunities to reach out and appeal to a wider and more diverse supporter base.

Here are our top tips, collated from our successful user community:
Tip 1
In at #1, social media – particularly effective for reaching new volunteers. Although it’s not rocket science, it’s surprising how easy it is to miss the opportunity of this tool to share Challenges, engage with supporters and share your supporter stories. Successful users are putting most, if not all, of their Challenges on social media and making the most of their reach. Remember, Volunteer Makers has social media sharing tools embedded in the site to make it even easier!

Every new challenge that goes on is mentioned on all our social media feeds for us and the town. I would say that digital media has been the most successful marketing tool, particularly as we have quite a good reach already” (Tamsin Bough, Falmouth Art Gallery).

I post at least one original tweet or post each day and then obviously we re-post relevant content. Primarily I use it in a “Have you seen this volunteering opportunity with X” type vein, but I also share events that are happening at the organisations that use Engage in Gloucester and celebrate local volunteers or volunteering in general” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

Tip 2
Your website – again, not rocket science, but do make sure your Volunteer Makers’ site is on there, is easy to find, and cross references support and volunteering. As your Volunteer Makers’ site is branded to look like your core website, this should be seamless.

Our website has directed many people to sign up, having a section explaining about Volunteer Makers” (Jessica Hartshorn, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum)

Tip 3
To reach existing supporters and volunteers, and to convert them to being a Volunteer Maker, make the most of your mailing assets – to existing volunteers and supporters (all GDPR compliant of course!), direct emails (add a clickable banner to the footer of all staff emails) or newsletter articles.

Tip 4
There’s nothing wrong with analogue! Engage new supporters offline too. Posters, flyers, postcards and bookmarks have all been tried and tested, directing people to Volunteer Makers’ sites.

I’ve got three pull up banners, logoed stickers and postcards to advertise the site. I go out to events such as the History Festival, residents’ weekend, local community shows and have a stall, chat to people about the site and hand out the postcards and stickers. I also made sure that the postcards are a bit thicker and substantial so they don’t just get immediately discarded and they also work as bookmarks” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

 

 

Tip 5
More offline activity – you can still showcase Volunteer Makers and drive people to your site via traditional methods such as volunteer fairs and events (on or offsite). It might help to have a laptop/tablet to showcase what you offer, how it works and encourage sign ups on the spot.

I recommend face-to-face contact at open days – ensuring they sign up on the spot!” (Katy Hammond, Museum of Oxford)

The most labour intensive, but I think the best conversion rate has to be face to face contact with people” (Sarah Orton, Gloucester Culture Trust)

Summary
We ask our users to put together a plan before they launch for delivering Volunteer Makers – but a plan isn’t just for launch! You will need to sustain your supporter development all year round, and be prepared to experiment with new approaches and maximise your existing assets. As you would for any audience engagement in your organisation.

Case Study
Sofia Carosi, Corporate, Community and Events Fundraiser at HorseWorld tells us how she’s put this into practice since launching in January this year:

I’ve found that social media, particularly Facebook, has been the best way to gain new members on HorseWorld Heroes (HH), as it reaches many more people and is an easy platform to get info in front of them more than once, as opposed to sending a letter where they read it then throw it away. I post regularly on social media about the new site and that we’re looking for specific challenges to be met etc. I’ve set the cover photos on all our social media accounts to show HH and pinned posts to the top of all news feeds. I also ran a sponsored Facebook Advert for 7 days (spent £50, 315 link clicks).

I’ve made staff add clickable banners to their emails so it reaches new audiences outside of my control (without breaching GDPR). I sent direct emails to all current staff and active volunteers and arranged reminders to be sent to those who have not opened the first mailing. I sent emails via MailChimp to active supporters with email consent.

I posted within a campaign mail out to supporters a printed bookmark (that I made myself and printed here to keep costs down) with details of the website on. HorseWorld Heroes will also have a page in the next HorseWorld newsletter and will be pushed out further at events with flyers and bookmarks in goody bags.

Popular challenges are mainly within the Just A Minute category, with Follow On Social Media topping this. An Hour or Two category challenges are also popular, with Knit/Crochet Horses or Donkeys being most clicked on and accepted. Because of this, we will have a lot more handmade horses/donkeys to sell at the open days (which from experience we know are very popular) so will increase our income as a result of the new Volunteer Makers system.

We have gained a new potential regular Research Volunteer to help with #BreakTheChain, and a new and regular Discovery Volunteer. Furthermore, we have acquired two offers of raffle prizes for the Open Days and one offer of clothing for Discovery students because of HorseWorld Heroes.

You can find their site here

Anna Bryant, MA, AMA, Marketing and Engagement Manager, Volunteer Makers
Anna has worked in and for museums of all shapes and sizes across curatorial, interpretation, audience development and marketing roles during the last 19 years.

Volunteer Makers ends the year with a bang – 1000s of people now signed up doing 10,000s of challenges, here are some shining examples

The approach to the Festive Season hasn’t slowed the pace of the Volunteer Makers’ team and our partner organisations. We now have thousands of people signed up to Volunteer Makers’ platforms across England and have engaged with organisations operating over 200 sites!

As we prepare to leave a busy and successful 2018 for Volunteer Makers, now’s the time to look at some of our “Christmas stars” who’ve upped their digital game via Volunteer Makers.

The Museum of Oxford is a pioneer organisation within Volunteer Makers, and despite being closed for redevelopment until 2020, has signed up more than 100 volunteers since the launch of their site in February.

That success was matched by Engage in Gloucester, a consortium of arts, heritage, cultural and community projects in the West Country city, who also added 100 new names to their volunteer platform. They launched their site in September, and have really engaged with Volunteer Makers’ ethos of using social media to build engagement and embed the organisation in their community.

Christmas hats off as well to trailblazing Tyne and Wear Museums – one of Volunteer Makers’ original pioneer partners – who have over 1,500 volunteers signed up at nine sites across the region via their site.

Finally, we must mention Essex-based community project Snapping the Stiletto, which in addition to garnering media interest, has also engaged 150 new volunteers since March. The project celebrates the lives and achievements of the women of Essex, and its success forms the launchpad for the Essex Women’s History Festival, in March 2019.

Although Volunteer Makers has proved a popular way to improve engagement with arts and heritage organisations, this is far from being the only sector the digital platform works with.

Carymoor Environmental Trust is a nature reserve and education centre developed on a landfill site in the heart of Somerset. The charity has just launched its Volunteer Makers’ site, looking to build its volunteering base and make supporting their mission fun via a series of challenges.

This month we also delivered a Volunteer Makers’ strategic training workshop to Horse World, a charity that supports rescue horses working with young people based in Bristol.

Further north, last month saw another new Volunteer Makers’ site launch. University of Liverpool Museums runs two sites – the Victoria Gallery and Museum and the Garstang Museum of Archaeology – both recognised as national centres of excellence. Volunteers speak of the sites as jewels of the city of Liverpool, and the Volunteer Makers’ platform will help the parent organisation garner new faces – and make the most of those already there!

As well as site launches, Volunteer Makers just ran a workshop in a city we are already familiar with via pioneers Heritage MK. This time it was with MK Gallery, who are looking to engage more supporters when their expanded site opens next year.

Anyone interested in finding out what a training workshop next year can do for your organisations’ engagement, please click here. We’d love to hear from you.

In 2019 Volunteer Makers will be further developing and rolling out its Sustainable Libraries programme – bringing the micro-volunteering and digital engagement message to this much cherished, but economically threatened, sector.

We are also in advanced talks with a region over a new strategic programme called Connecting Communities, Transforming Lives. Watch this space for news!

We wish all our partners, stakeholders, volunteers and staff a very happy Christmas holiday and look forward to working with you in 2019.

Launches at all Points East and West for Volunteer Makers in the Summer

The summer months were no holiday for the Volunteer Makers’ team, with demand for the blended volunteering model and tech still high and new organisations and groups signing up to our vision.

The warm weather saw the launch of two major heritage groups’ Volunteer Makers portals.

Colchester and Ipswich Museums operate at six fascinating sites in Suffolk and north Essex. 

Ipswich Museum tells the story of this ancient town, and also has large galleries of exotic fauna, many collected in Victorian times, including one of the most comprehensive collection of British birds in the world.

Sharing the Victorian home with the museum, the town’s art gallery contains several notable works, including a number associated with the Suffolk-based Benton End Group, who were a major influence on 20th Century British art. Beautiful Christchurch Mansion, which dates to Tudor times, is the group’s third attraction in Ipswich.

In Colchester, there is a Natural History Museum, based in a historic church, Hollytrees Museum, an old mansion with some fascinating facts about the town – including that it was where the nursery rhyme Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was written!

The group also administers Colchester Castle, a grand Norman edifice, containing the largest Keep in England.

Colchester and Ipswich Museums have been Arts Council England supported pioneers in the Volunteer Makers programme, and their new portal showcases a range of imaginative challenges to engage the public in volunteering and supporting their sites.

Turning westward, another multi-site heritage group launch. Eleven organisations in Gloucester have joined together to form the Engage In Gloucester volunteering group.

Members include Gloucester Cathedral; the city’s museums and archives; its Civic trust and History Festival, and the ruined abbey of Llanthony Secunda.

Also in the group is the National Waterways Museum, which tells the story of Britain’s canal network and its crucial role in the economic development of the country, from a dockside setting.

Like their eastern counterparts, the Gloucester group has been a pioneer body, supported by Arts Council England, to develop and refine Volunteer Makers through feedback and trialling, working with our developers Tickbox Marketing.

Engage In Gloucester has a wide array of volunteer challenges and opportunities on its portal, fully engaging with the Micro-Volunteering revolution.

Spreading the word on micro and blended volunteering was Programme Director Claire’s task, when she joined Pippa Smith, Project Manager of the acclaimed Snapping the Stiletto project, at the GEM conference in Nottingham.

Snapping the Stiletto aims to counter the negative clichés surrounding “Essex Girls” by highlighting the positive and inspirational stories of women in the county.

Based on a collaborative and co-production approach, and utilising the stories, research and hard-work of 130 volunteers, it has been a major success, and was recently featured on BBC News.

The broadcaster noted the stories of these remarkable women “are being told not by the museums but by the volunteers. It is led by the women of Essex themselves”.

Claire and Pippa told the Conference that getting wise with how volunteers were used is essential for the heritage sector in the 21st Century.

But it isn’t just heritage organisations, that Volunteer Makers works with.

Recently, Claire carried out a training programme for the Cri du Chat Syndrome Support Group. Cri du Chat is a rare, but devastating genetic condition that affects 1 in 50,000 babies.  Its Volunteer Makers portal will bring carers and other supporters together to raise money, and donate practical help.

Also outside the museum and gallery hub of Volunteer Makers groups is Carymoor Environmental Trust in Somerset.

The trust has worked to “green” and encourage wildlife back to 100 acres of capped landfill site near Castle Cary.

As well as conservation work, it is a major educational destination for school groups wanting to find out about nature, land use and sustainability. Volunteers are at the heart of Carymoor’s work. Volunteer Makers’ training with the Trust spread the word on the new, smart approach to managing volunteer time.

So, a busy summer – and lots more in the calendar – for Volunteer Makers.

 

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