Ways you can help your community

Week notes 6 March 2020

Posted on 6 March, 2020

This week... 

  • February in numbers 

  • Helping people get started 

  • Member survey on community volunteering 

  • Community volunteering experiments 

  • Workflow improvements 

  • Key outcomes and/or insights from Leeds research (Natalie) 

  • Opportunities from engaging with Trafford Council 

Co-operate background  

Stronger communities are at the heart of the Co-op strategy, so we’re going to completely reinvent what commercial, community partnerships should be. 

Being a co-op, we believe that more co-operation will improve our local communities. 

Co-operation is harder than it needs to be, so we're going to make it easier. 

The idea is that we build an initial range of tools or features and learn which ones truly impact a community. These tools need to be as real as we can make them so we can really understand what users do, instead of what they might tell us. 

Find out more on our About page. 

February in numbers 

Here we can see the impact of the Great British Spring Clean on our numbers. To recap, we provided the journey and functionality for members to: 

  • pledge to host a clean-up event 

  • tell us why their community is in need 

  • share their clean up with friends and family 

The activation exposed us to 1.3 million  members, appealing to those who are community minded. This was the impact on our site: 

Pageviews 13,176 +106% 

Sessions 8,747 +284% 

Pages per visit 1.5 -46% 

Return visits* 8% -46% 

* It is normal to see a drop in return visits in a month when you get so many first-time users. The journey we designed for these users was focused so it. 

Interestingly we saw more of the audience that came via this campaign indicating their intent to attend an event or activity:  

This shows that when an audience is coming to Co-operate with a specific impact or activity in mind (in this case cleaning up their local community) they are more likely to go to the events that they find.  

Helping people get started 

We’re trying to make it easier for people to get something started in their community. This week we heard the playback from our user testing last week. 

We included the concept of ‘Franchise kits’ where organisers can benefit from activities that have been successful elsewhere, re-using assets like branding, advice and support and pre-existing partnerships. 

While there were positive reactions, some users found the proposition daunting, worrying about holding up their end of the bargain and would want to be eased into the commitment more gently. We need to learn before we build any franchise kits (and engage with franchise founders too). 

Overall the reaction to the rest of the prototype was positive, and barring some design improvements we can now move to build, our first set of ‘Starter kits’ (working title). We have prioritised 5 starter kits and over the next few weeks will aim to deliver the first version for each, ideally: specific advice, a tailored promotional kit and one extra tool or asset that is unique to each. 

Rachel, Ben, Natalie and Vicky have been writing the job stories for each of our kits and Ryan has been making improvements to the designs: 

On the Things you can do page the styling has been made more consistent with our new design look and style. We learned people wanted to be able to compare the time and effort commitment of each activity at a glance. 

On the how to page we learnt the sliders were too vague when seen without something to compare them to, so we have replaced them with the numbers that tested better and removed resources. The what you need section is included as it tested better than going straight into the top tips.  

Styling has been updated for consistency throughout. All of the wording that was unclear or led to caused confusion has been updated too. 

Member survey on volunteering 

This week we invited just over a million members to complete our survey asking them about volunteering in their local community, via the Membership Join In platform. 

As I write we’ve had 1,776 completed surveys and of them 1,095 have left us their email to be involved in the testing of our ideas and prototypes in future. Woohoo! 

Big thanks to Terry and Jo from the Join In team for helping us make this happen and helping us get the great response that we did. 

Community volunteering experiments 

This week, the UsTwo team split into two, with one focusing on the build and set up of the experiments and the other in Leeds attending a number of events and meetings with a variety of member pioneers, organisers and volunteers. 

The build team have been busy with focusing on the design and build of the website that will sit on, this website is currently focusing on our sprint goal of ‘Helping organisers identifying the help they need (generic or skilled help) and when’. To do this we are testing things such as: leading with categories, testing if people would prefer to have a phone call with an experience organiser or to just request help and taking them through a more structured flow to help them uncover the type of things they might need help with. 

Alongside this build we launched 3 Facebook Ad’s with the intention to drive as many organisers and volunteers to our screener to eventually direct them to our FB group.

We had a total of 177 complete the screener; with 17 organisers, 88 volunteers, 51 ‘both’ and 21 other. From that we invited organisers and ‘Both’ to the FB group and have introduced ourselves to the group. 

  This week we visited Leeds where we met with Member Pioneers Tasneem and Susan, conducted a focus group with local Organisers and Volunteers. We also visited community youth centre CATCH and spoke with Chris from VAL who hosts a drop-in session at the Dewsbury Road Community Hub (aka “the one stop-shop”).    Our objectives for this trip was to better understand the journey for Organisers and Volunteers in receiving help and get some feedback on our concepts: 

  • 1 Click commit  

  • Push notifications 

  • Mentoring scheme 

  • Volunteer ID 

  • Local Impact Tracker  

  • “What Help do I need?” Quiz  

The Dewsbury Road Community Hub Focus Group was a great opportunity to observe how organisers interact in a group setting, this uncovered a natural occurrence of organisers sharing their tips and know-how with each other and looking for ways to support other initiatives, it appears there aren’t many opportunities for organisers to come together and do this. We also got some great feedback on our concepts and the landscape of varying organisers in South Leeds.    Our interviews with Member Pioneers Tasneem and Susan, were extremely insightful as to how they currently do their role, the impact of the Member Pioneers within local communities and in which ways the co-operate platform could further enable and support them in doing so. 

We were especially interested in visiting some of the young volunteers at CATCH as we wanted to hear more about the Superstars program they run, which has proven to have amazing results amongst the young volunteers and gain some deeper insight to how young people perceive volunteering.   

Finally, we had an extremely useful chat with Chris from Voluntary Action Leeds who was hosting a drop-in session at Dewsbury Road Community Hub, for local volunteers to find out about and be matched with organisations looking for volunteers. He was able to shed some light on the local communities in South Leeds and his experiences and some issues he’s encountered when pairing the two entities. 

Next week we are launching our Facebook testing strategy, where we will for more feedback on our organiser mentoring concept as well as asking all the organisers to try out our website and to provide us feedback. We will also be starting to build out our next set of experiments looking at how we can showcase these requests in the best way for the volunteers to be able to find the most relevant opportunity for them. 

 Workflow improvements 

Jacques has been on holiday this week so Rachel and Rachael have been covering for him. This was a great chance to see first-hand where we can improve our workflow. It takes on average 40 mins to put an event live (sometimes it takes up to an hour to find a nice image if they don’t upload one). 

This week we've had 13 events and 4 volunteering opportunities, that’s 680 mins – 11 hours, and this only an average week. Plus, there’s the maintenance. Removing expired event, renewing re-occurring events and answering emails, intercom and phone calls! Time to work out how we can improve this. 

^^ Rachel covering for Jacques this week

So, Ben A has been looking at how we can remove the need to copy and paste event information from Smartsurvey (our online forms) to Contentful (our content management system). He’s exploring how Zapier, an integration technology, can connect these two services removing the need to copy and paste. It won’t go and find a nice image but will save around 7 mins per events, that’s 2 hours saved per week, so it’s a start. 

We’ll need to look at other steps in the workflow to work out how we can handle more. A good problem to have. 

Opportunities from engaging with Trafford Council 

This week Anne met with two different teams from Trafford Council:    Community Link Officers action referrals from the social work team to connect people with support, services and activities in their communities 

Trafford Partnerships leads partnerships that aim to support communities across Trafford.  

As a result of these meetings we have been given access to a spreadsheet of all the community events and activities that the council know about. We can use this to see whether we can get the organisers to use Co-operate. If we can, the council wouldn’t need to spend their resource compiling this spreadsheet, as we can provide it for them.  

We have also been given permission to directly link volunteering opportunities from the Thrive Trafford volunteering site and vice versa. We just need to work out how. 

 Everyone I talk to is keen to share Co-operate with their colleagues and promote it for us. They’re recognising that even where there are some established directories and networks, Co-operate is meeting unmet needs by focusing on community activities and opportunities, with the ‘How to’ guides being aimed at new, grassroots organisers, not established organisations. 

That’s it for this week, I’m off to wash my hands again.


Posted by Ben on 6 March, 2020