committee Archives - Page 11 of 12 - Syneka Marketing

Interlinking your website with Social Media

By Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Government, News 2 Comments

The Internet through interactive technologies, such as web 2.0 and social media sites, has immense potential to reach new volunteers or customers if harnessed to its full potential.

One of the challenges facing an organisation is the need to ensure that their website, as well as social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, are maintained and kept up to date. Unfortunately, this duplicates workloads and creates silos of information, making it difficult to establish and leverage connections across these various Internet technologies.

This also causes ongoing costs and delays for an organisation since their website is often outsourced to a web designer who may not always promptly add new content.

One of the most powerful benefits of the Internet is the immediacy of content but this can be a drawback for an organisation, if their website is not maintained on an ongoing basis. A website is often the first point of contact for a prospective volunteer, member or client and information that is out of date will deter these visitors from investigating further.

Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly important in exchanging information and reaching new volunteers, members or clients.

Internet technologies and their usage rates in sharing information

Internet technologies and their usage rates in sharing information (from The Business Insider)

The graph indicates the dominance of Facebook over email when exchanging information and shows that Twitter is experiencing solid growth.

While email is likely to always have a role in Internet communications, it is clear that social media technologies, like Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly important. This is because people choose their connections when using social media, meaning they connect with people they know. This has benefits when exchanging information since it operates like an Internet equivalent to word of mouth referrals.

The result is a community that has been formed around your organisation, strengthening the ability to recruit volunteers, members or new customers and reaching a new demographic that tends to not respond to traditional marketing. The Internet, like all forms of marketing, needs to complement your other activities so that you provide a consistent message and focus.

Many organisations are keen to have a presence on Facebook and Twitter but duplicating content is tedious and time consuming since it stretches already limited resources.

The solution is to separate the design of your website from its content, using technology known as a Content Management System (CMS). A Content Management System empowers an organisation so that they can add and modify content on their website, while their web designer develops templates to ensure a consistent layout across the site.

The system we use is known as WordPress, which is a content management system and blogging platform. This system allows for the easy publishing of information and operates similarly to a Word Processor.

Furthermore, this content can be replicated across other technologies, such as Facebook, Twitter and other websites. In addition, relevant stakeholders, such as media outlets, volunteers or customers, can receive updates via email.

The end result is one of lower ongoing costs since an organisation only requires design and not ongoing maintenance from a web developer. In addition, there is a decrease in workloads since Facebook, Twitter and subscribers automatically receive new content when it is published on your website.

Strategies for Policy Development and Adoption

By Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News No Comments

Policy development is one of the responsibilities of a Committee of Management and ensures that there is clear accountability and expectations within an organisation.

A policy consists of a statement of purpose and broad guidelines to identify desired outcomes. Once adopted, procedures are developed that ensure compliance to the outcomes specified in the policy.

While policy formulation is a committee responsibility, it is important that volunteers and staff have input into policies to ensure that their opinions are taken into account.

Committees should establish a policy sub-committee to write and consider the policies required. The use of a sub-committee will assist in utilizing time efficiently, although the whole committee will need to support policies when they are adopted.

Discussion around policies however should not stop at a committee level. Staff and volunteers should be able to provide input, as often they will be affected by these policies.

Encouraging input and discussion helps ensure relevant policies that have the support of not just the committee but also the wider organisation. While committees establish policies it is often the staff and volunteers who establish the procedures to implement their outcomes. As such it is important that they are accepted within an organisation and that there is an understanding of their importance and objectives.

A workshop can be a useful tool to encourage and facilitate input to refine policies and discuss their effects. Depending on the number of participants and areas of focus, a workshop can be held as one session or split into groups to work on specific policies. Either way, it is useful to explain the purpose of policy that is discussed and the reasons behind developing or renewing policies.

This afternoon I facilitated a workshop for the Maroondah Citizens Advice Bureau so that staff and volunteers could provide input into six policies that have been developed for the organisation. While the participants were in agreement with the intent of these policies the additional feedback provided further refinement and agreement.

Policy formulation is an ongoing challenge for organisations and yet they are required to ensure consistency and good governance. Policy development can be a positive experience if discussion is encouraged and if there is acceptance of their content.

Please contact Syneka if you would like to discuss policy formulation within your organisation.

Changing Times within a New Era for Community Organisations

By Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News, Presentations, Resources No Comments

All community and volunteer based organisations, regardless of their size or focus, are experiencing changing times with challenges in recruiting new volunteers, maintaining funding sources and meeting ever changing requirements.

This presentation explores new methods for recruiting and engaging the community, as well as retaining volunteers and the essentials for an organisation to meet these challenges within this new era.
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Inaugural Eastern Volunteers Community Conference – Day Two

By Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News 2 Comments

The second day of the Eastern Volunteers Community conference explored the themes of managing volunteers, volunteering diversity, as well as supporting people with mental illness and engaging community engagement.

The conference opened with an address by the Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS), which explored the challenges in creating social inclusion during economic uncertainty. The presentation highlighted the difficulties the community sector is facing, particularly in regard to ensuring funding certainty and maintaining a focus on the core vision of an organisation.

I delivered a plenary session focused on harnessing the changing times faced by community organisations through embracing technology and building capacity through governance and professional development.

There is a need for strong governance and consistent policies that are supported through the adherence of procedures. All levels of government, as well as many philanthropic organisations, are expecting increasing levels of governance and accountability from the not-for-profit sector.

Strong governance is critical to creating an environment that harnesses the potential of an organisation and fosters its development. This creates a positive environment for volunteers, as well as staff and board members.

Data compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics demonstrates that less are volunteering on a per capita basis and that they are volunteering less of their time. In addition, there is a substantial gap between the rate of volunteering within rural areas versus our capital cities, with volunteering being less common in urban centres.

This demonstrates the strength of community identity, which is more commonplace within rural areas. Given that establishing this sense of community is more difficult within largely homogeneous urban centres, there is a need for innovation.

This is where community organisations need to explore the use of technology, such as interactive websites, using Web 2.0 technology like blogs and Facebook, to establish a new sense of community. Virtual communities are particularly useful in recruiting younger volunteers, who are often seeking opportunities to further their experiences within particular projects.

Younger people tend to be project focused rather than organisational focused and as a result community organisations need to tailor the way they attempt to recruit volunteers.

Technology such as wikis, which allows editable content, can be utilized to retain knowledge within an organisation through encouraging staff and volunteers to document their experiences and freely share information.

The use of technology should not increase the workload of an organisation, but instead should help automate some tasks. As an example, web based content management systems, can replicate web-content onto social networking tools such as Facebook, encouraging interactivity without requiring duplication or increasing workloads.

The conference concluded with positive feedback and a desire from participants for further events. There is strong interest in the sharing of knowledge and it was great that the participants found the conference to be informative and useful.
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Inaugural Eastern Volunteers Community Conference – Day One

By Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News No Comments

Eastern Volunteers has a vision of leading the way in community services, and this was demonstrated through the organisation’s inaugural community conference.

The two-day event, which was entitled Social Inclusion and Community Well-being in the World’s Most Liveable City, was designed to assist in capacity building for the not-for-profit and community sectors.

The conference included presentations from several not-for-profit organisations to discuss the challenges the sector is facing, as well as potential solutions.

The topics on the first day included the challenges facing volunteer recruitment, establishing community partnerships and the difference that is made through volunteering.

I facilitated the Volunteering – making a difference panel session, where the two speakers discussed the critical role of volunteers within their organisations. This also included a discussion around the challenges in developing good governance and ensuring the wellbeing of volunteers within a growing organisation.

I also provided technical support for the conference, including the online registration, which was designed to handle multiple registrants, as well as traditional payment methods such as cheque.

The afternoon sessions discussed the topics of supporting older people, as well as connecting with the community. This session included the construction of a community led playground in Montrose and involving migrant communities within volunteering.

The first day of the conference was well received with the participants looking forward to its continuation on the second day.

Open Source Software and minimising IT costs

By Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News No Comments

Open Source Software, which is where software is provided free of charge has the potential to reduce IT costs and maintenance within the not-for-profit sector and community organisations.

For example, I choose to use Linux and open source software since I find it more responsive and stable than a Windows based system. Linux is an open source operating system that is available in various forms known as distributions.

Linux and the majority of software that operates on it are provided free of charge and are designed, as well as supported through active community participation.

While there is undoubtedly a learning curve when trying anything new, Linux distributions such as OpenSUSE and Kubuntu tend to be extremely user friendly. Linux support for hardware continues to improve and there are many free programs that can easily replace existing Windows based software.

In addition, Linux tends to not have the security and virus issues that are far too commonplace within a Windows based environment.

While Linux and open source software may not be for everyone, I believe there is tremendous opportunity for the non-profit and community sector to investigate the use of Linux within their organisations.

The free cost of Linux and associated programs combined with the fact that it can still easily and efficiently operate on older computer hardware means it has the potential to reduce IT costs.

While there may be a requirement for initial training and configuration, this can be offset by reducing the cost of purchasing new software and hardware.

Free software such as Openoffice.org provides an easy to use Office suite and is largely compatible with Microsoft Office. Mozilla Firefox provides a more secure Internet browser than Internet Explorer and Kontact provides a full suite of information services, including a calendar, notes, email and address book features.

GnuCash, a free accounting software package, provides features comparable to commercial equivalents and is easy to operate and utilise.

Linux provides a choice of graphical desktop environments and KDE with its associated applications exceeds the features and stability found within Windows XP and Vista. XFCE is another desktop environment and is well suited towards older computers that may still be present within an organisation.

If there are Windows based programs that an organisation is reliant upon, there is a program known as WINE which can allow such software to still operate within Linux.

Even if an organisation wishes to retain a Windows operating system, applications such as Mozilla Firefox and OpenOffice have Windows versions, providing additional flexibility while maintaining a familiar operating environment.

Linux distributions such as OpenSUSE and Kubuntu provide an easy to install and operational Linux environment with minimal need for customisation.

The use of Linux with its potential to reduce IT costs is certainly worth exploring, particularly within organisations that are facing increasing requirements to minimise cost pressures.