Creative Future is a very small charity in south-east England. With support worth more than £10,000 from five iT4Communities volunteers (with combined professional IT experience of more than 70 years), it can now make the most of remote workers and volunteers through a secure online database (donated by the Salesforce Foundation). This helps it to fundraise, run events, record client details, streamline processes and report to funders. It is central to its small organisation.
"A harmonious collaboration, with professionals taking the time to understand our needs. All in all, the best £85 we have spent," said Simon Powell and Dominique De-Light, project directors.Warwickshire Community And Voluntary Action uses Ning, for less than £300 a year, to create a forum for staff and volunteers, reducing administration.
"The forum also enables all of our staff to gain a live update of what is happening in terms of policy and representatives attending meetings," said chief executive Paul Tolley.
"Wordpress provided us with a quick, easy-to-edit way of distributing information about the CVS in Cornwall. Rather than paying for an expensive content management system website, it has allowed us to keep all the design and management in-house," said John Holmes, information officer.
Chester Voluntary Action called on the free services of its regional ICT champion to cut through jargon from technology suppliers and choose the best value purchases to make when updating its technology systems.
"Many commercial IT suppliers don’t know about the discounted software available to charities, such as the CTX scheme from the Charity Technology Trust. Purchasing software via this route has saved Chester Voluntary Action thousands of pounds," said Peter Dunn, ICT champion for the north west.
Third Sector Essentials saved £1,500 on agency production costs by making its Follow Me promotional video using basic camera equipment and hosting it for free on YouTube, with pictures also hosted free on Flickr. It also supported the United Estates of Wythenshawe video which has been viewed more than 32,000 times.
"These videos have provided a great talking point and increased the number of enquiries we receive. We’ve developed new conversations with visitors about our services and plans," said Hannah Taylor, media and communications officer.
When Kath Fackrell at Telford Council for Voluntary Service saw misconceptions posted on Twitter about the number of hours you can volunteer while in receipt of benefits, she replied (‘tweeted’) back the correct information. Radio Shropshire saw this and interviewed the volunteer centre manager.
"Twitter is great - a free social networking website that enables us to have conversations that would previously have been really costly to us in both time and money. This exposure has increased our already growing credibility and effectiveness as a CVS and provider of knowledge and expertise within the communities of Telford and Wrekin," said Beverly Harris, volunteer centre manager.
Voluntary Action Leeds uses Dropbox to share project files between multiple locations. Files no longer need to be carried around on USB Drives and staff can work from either office or home. This saves time and travel costs and reduces VAL's carbon footprint.
"As the online folder is synchronised with my desktop, it makes sharing files with my colleagues so straightforward, wherever they are," said Angela Davies, communications officer.