In September 2016 the suggestion was first put forward, by a volunteer, that it would benefit the Fredericks Foundation to find a way for all clients, volunteers, mentors, trustees, partners and sponsors to be able to communicate with each other and with the Foundation. The idea of an online Fredericks Foundation community was born.
The objective is to create a community that enables all stakeholders to simply and easily communicate, via forums and bulletin boards, with each other and share information about themselves, their products or services, their ideas and challenges, their solutions, successes and user stories. There is a huge amount of knowledge available within our network of volunteers and mentors, that if made available to our clients could greatly enhance their chance of success.
We would like to:
Create an online community so that all stakeholders, clients, volunteers, mentors, partners and sponsors can share information and knowledge for the benefit of all. Creating greater success for our clients
Create an online market for our clients to market their products and services to other community members, past and present, to help them grow their businesses and secure their futures.
Enable our sponsors and partners to better understand the work that we do in this under supported sector
Improve communications between the Foundation and our network of clients and volunteers, to maintain engagement.
Keep in touch with past clients to help them with future funding needs.
Increase the information available to volunteers and mentors, as well as Panel members, about the performance of the charity, and also for the panel members to be informed of the progress of the clients that they made the decision to lend to. This is important for the retention of good volunteers and panel members.
As always there were several obstacles to overcome before the community could become a reality. These were:
The lack of available funding to create, support and run such a community.
The lack of available internal resources to research, chose, configure and rollout the final solution.
The funding obstacle still has not been solved and we are still looking for sponsorship from our donors, partners and supporters to help us provide this addition support for our clients.
The resource issue has been solved in two ways, the community will be mainly run by volunteers and therefore not require significant input from the internal team, and an incredible group of volunteer consultants were approached to carry out the time-consuming research and planning phases.
It was not until approximately 10 months later that we solved the lack of resources issue. We came across an amazing organisation called ‘Beyond Me’, www.beyondme.org . After a rigorous selection process, they provide teams of independent, experienced volunteers, who would, over a 12-month period, act as a valuable additional resource for the selected charities. We completed our application in June 2017, were invited to present our proposal on 13th October and we were lucky enough to be chosen by a great team who then took charge of the project. Our team kick off meeting happened in the second week of October.
Since then a small team from Fredericks has worked closely with our team of 7 ‘Beyond me’ consultants.
The stages of the project that have so far been finalised include:
The canvassing of Fredericks staff, clients, mentors and volunteers to compile a list of required functionalities
The market research to match requirements to available off the shelf community software systems
The choice of a short list of 3 systems out of a total of 25 researched
The viewing of all 3 systems on the short list and the choice of the final system
Configuration and testing of the chosen system
Stages yet to be completed at the time of writing:
The finalisation of a communications plan to all stakeholders
The final roll out to the online community
The goal is to have the community fully functioning and growing by the autumn of this year.
The Fredericks Community is a great step forward for all involved, if you would like to help sponsor the community, be one of the first to join the community or help to run the community, by being a forum moderator, please do contact firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01276 472722.