Volunteer centres report technical problems with software program

Some centres have abandoned the newest version of V-Base, which is used to upload volunteering opportunities to the Do-it website


The latest version of a software program used by most volunteer centres to upload volunteering opportunities to the Do-it website has been abandoned by some centres because of technical problems.

The V-Base software is used by 485 volunteer centres to upload volunteering opportunities to Do-it, the government-backed volunteering website. But Third Sector has been told that version 3 of the program has proved so problematic that some volunteer centres have stopped using it and others have decided to keep using version 2.5.

YouthNet, the online youth charity that ran the Do-it website until its transfer to a consortium led by Ivo.org earlier this month, said in a statement that 67 volunteer centres had so far switched to using V-Base 3, and 13 had raised concerns about it. A further 418 centres were continuing to use version 2.5.

The roll-out to volunteer centres of version 3 of the software was due to be completed by autumn 2012, but because of the technical challenges involved that was when it began, YouthNet said.

Ivo.org said at an event earlier this month to mark the handover of the website that it hoped to switch from using the V-Base software program to a cloud-based system in future. The change would be funded using the £1m transition grant it has been awarded by the Office for Civil Society to take over the running of the Do-it website. 

Sue Vincent, volunteer development manager for Hart Volunteer Centre in Hampshire, said it had experienced problems. "When the migration process to version 3 commenced, those volunteer centres migrating were confronted with a database littered with technical issues and bugs, thus halting the migration and leaving a split between those on version 2.5 and version 3.

"The volunteer centres that provide the backbone of volunteer opportunities in order for Do-it to function are therefore bemused to find not only that version 3 is now going to be replaced without it ever really having got off of the ground, but also that further funding has now been allocated for a shiny, new version."

Justin Davis Smith, executive director for volunteering and development at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said it was aware of the problems. "The delay in rolling out the new version of the V-Base software that powers Do-it has been very frustrating for volunteer centres, many of whom have plenty of other challenges to deal with at the moment," he said. "I am aware that although some centres are using the new software successfully, others have decided to stick with the earlier version or have moved to alternative online solutions."

He added that resolving the problems should be a priority for Ivo.org.

Emma Thomas, chief executive of YouthNet, said in a statement that no government funding had been used to develop version 3 of the software.

She said: "As well as completing a major technical overhaul of the Do-it service, YouthNet maintained its commitment to developing the V-Base system, which volunteer centres receive free of charge, during a time of reduced funding and technical resources. The timescale for this work was significantly increased because of the sheer scale of different requirements for the service and the different technical infrastructure and systems support available amongst our partners at the volunteer centres.

"We recognise the frustration this has caused for some volunteer centres that have very specific requirements for the service, and YouthNet had been providing support to help try to resolve as many issues as possible, given our resources. Over the years we’ve worked with about 700 partners, representing 26,108 charities who have benefited from posting their volunteer opportunities on Do-it."

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