At the end of 2015, Involve Swindon was contacted by representatives from Nationwide’s Information Management division. They were interested in understanding more about skilled volunteering and how local charities could make use of the specialist knowledge that they had within their team. The skill sets they had access to were quite varied ranging from the more generic project management and business analysis to the hard core and, let’s be honest, quite geeky technical data manipulation. The challenge was to work out how people used to dealing with the vast quantities of data used by a business the size of Nationwide could scale down their skills to meet the needs of small local charities. Several meetings and a presentation later, an information session for local charities that would give them the opportunity to meet and talk face to face with the Nationwide volunteers about their needs was arranged.
At the session, 13 volunteers and representatives from 6 local charities sat down and spent two hours talking in depth about the specific needs of each charity, the challenges they faced with information management and how the volunteers might be able to help them. Feedback from the session was extremely positive with one volunteer saying:
“It feels like one of the most worthwhile and useful projects I’ve been engaged with during my time at Nationwide”
The charities also appreciated the small group format as it gave them an opportunity to talk in depth in a relaxed setting.
And the conversations didn’t stop there! Since the session, we are thrilled to report that the volunteers have continued their support with one local charity saying:
“In the short term they are helping to set up a new sickness absence recording and reporting system, as well as streamlining our HR recording systems – the aim is to get both of these pieces of work ready and in place for the new financial year on 1st April.
The volunteers will then support with a longer term piece of work to look at how we can capture robust information from service users relating to ethnicity and measure against local information, and using service user data to predict potential growth in terms of business and staff planning”.
Skilled support like this is so valuable to small charities with limited resources and time as it enables them to become more sustainable and self-reliant.