WNVCA is a relatively small support and development organisation covering a very large rural area with a population of approximately 165,000. We deliver ‘CVS’ services and also run the volunteer centre and deliver community capacity building projects. Historically we used access to manage our database of organisations and recorded monitoring on excel spread sheets.
The issues we faced
We knew that staffing and funding would be reducing and we needed to find smarter ways of working and ability to do ‘more for less’. Our systems whilst comprehensive were time consuming.
The actions we took
We applied for funding from Awards for All to update our website and purchase a Client Management System. The title of the project was Marketing for Maximum Impact. The application was successful. We looked at a number of systems and opted for VC Connect. Our regional infrastructure organisation built the website and worked with VC Connect. We carried out a complete update and clear out of our database, only organisations who had responded and supplied current information were transferred.
It has been very useful to promote the searchable directory which we now have on our website. It makes monitoring time ad work on projects much easier. Staff are able to see what they are each working on with a group which helps with more efficient use of time. We can carry out dedicated mailings and emails much easier.
Do not underestimate the amount of time it will take, whilst the setting up could be done in only a few months the internal work around the system took much longer, allow a year. Have a project lead that can not only work with the external companies but make sure staff deliver on what is required. After a decent period of time be ruthless about organisations on your database. Many who dropped off at the time have gradually come back. Be clear about what you want to monitor and why. Make sure all staff use it. Have regular discussion about what you list things under, it won’t always be obvious. Keep talking at team meetings about how it can be used otherwise you will massively underutilise it.
We haven’t run a full year of monitoring yet but is has already been used to evidence to funders the kinds of groups we work with as we can pull this off fairly easily. The online directory has been very well received again particularly by funders but also by groups and individuals.