How Our Charity is Growing During Lockdown
(Top Tips for Everyone)
There’s plenty of bad news at the moment regarding challenges faced by charities and other organisations. At Buckinghamshire Disability Service (BuDS) we are thankful to be adapting well, and are actually expanding as we try to meet the growing demand for support.
Here are some top tips....
Focus On People’s Skills, Not Fixed Job Roles.
We are now all having to adapt our job roles as we are forced to find new ways of working. At BuDS we have been adapting jobs to suit individual circumstance since the charity began. BuDS is a charity run primarily by disabled people which has led us to craft roles only after meeting individuals. Every person brings a unique set of skills and experience to our organisation. We have worked hard to remove the barriers which prevent people from deploying their talent. Try to focus on what you could do, not what you can’t.
Flexible Task Management
Central to our flexible working environment is the way we assign and manage tasks. We have no fixed job roles. Some of our projects take this to extreme, adopting an Agile approach. Here, we hold regular team planning meetings where tasks are assigned. Although guided by overall project objectives, we do not produce detailed plans longer than a few weeks. This ensures we are always adapting to the needs of volunteers and service users.
With no fixed job roles our COVID-19 team was established in a single day, and has now reached 40,000 people with help and advice.
Ensure Important Information Is Available
We encourage volunteers to help each other, but this does require a basic understanding of other team members’ tasks and knowledge of wider project objectives.
Our internal wiki provides project information which allows people to suggest ideas to overcome current project challenges. The use of digital task boards, described above, ensures everyone within the team is aware of each other’s work.
Hold Regular Update Meetings
When everyone is working from home, communication can be difficult. Each team at BuDS now has short regular meetings where every member says:
- What they have done
- What they intend to do
- Any barriers to moving forward or support required from others.
Each team has a shared task board – which is updated. The meeting should last 15 min maximum. This style of meeting is taken from Agile and is traditionally called a “stand-up”.
Offer Work Experience and Training
We were recently asked, “How on earth are you still onboarding?” In fact, since the lockdown we’ve inducted triple the volunteers we would normally, and recently employed one of our volunteers. New volunteers have been crucial in expanding our support, which is largely unfunded. While other charities sought funding first, we were able to instantly offer new forms of help as needed.
Volunteer roles at BuDS are very flexible, so people only need training for the tasks assigned not an entire job role at once. We can train people using screen sharing, but we also have lots of information online, either within task cards, or on each team wiki. Some volunteers complete tasks on their first day.
For those who may be interested, please find out more about our work experience and training programme at www.reach4work.org.uk
We would like to promote the message that rigid working practices are not just unhelpful to disabled people, but bad for us all. Taking a flexible approach to work can be the difference between organisational survival and expansion.
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