The future of online funding support

Olof Williamson was a Senior Consultant at NCVO, looking at the latest thinking on funding, finance and public services. Olof has left NCVO and his posts have been retained for here for reference.

You can now do more and more of your work online. The power and speed of the internet means you can communicate with thousands of people with a click of the mouse. And the web helps you gather and organise information so you can do your job more effectively.

Old_technologyLooking back at the online services available even ten years ago, the difference is amazing. I remember sitting in the university library in 2002 and waiting half an hour for a simple email attachment to download. Contrast that with watching all the latest film trailers on my phone, as I did the other day, and you can see how the web has gone super-speed.

This speed also helps us all access information essential for our organisations’ work, and being online can seriously boost our productivity.

The future of online support

2012 promises to be a year of further innovations in online support, as we learn from and integrate more new technologies.

We can build on what we already have to strengthen our work and the voluntary and community sector.

There are two surveys open right now that will make sure you get a say in what the future of online support looks like. Read on to find out how you can take part.

Fast funding information

At NCVO we run the website Funding Central. It is hugely popular, with nearly 40,000 people registered to use the site and receiving funding updates. The site brings together grant, contract and loan information and saves people from having to trawl the whole internet themselves.

We love to hear what people like about Funding Central as it helps demonstrate its value as a service, to funders and to other potential users. A couple of recent quotes from happy users:

“It is one of the very best business support tools you can have. Don’t leave home without it”

“Use it, you’ll be delighted and never look back.”

I like that kind of comment.

But hearing what people don’t like also helps us to make changes and improvements.

For example, people told us that the deadlines listed on Funding Central were too short. In response, we have adjusted the site and newsletter settings to give more notice of deadlines, helping people to get their applications in on time.

Developing Funding Central further – your reflections

your_reflectionsUntil January 27th we are running a Funding Central user survey. This is your chance to tell us what you think of the service and how we can improve it during 2012.

[Note that the survey has now closed – thanks for your responses]

If you have received Funding Central emails or used the site, complete the short survey and tell us how we are doing.

There are specific questions for people looking for funding, for infrastructure and support organisations, and funders and commissioners. We want to hear from you even if you are only an occasional visitor.

The wider view – looking at all online support for the voluntary sector

The Government and Lottery are also interested in your views on online support.

CountdownThe Office for Civil Society together with Big Lottery Fund have a survey out until 20th January about what online support Civil Society Organisations use.

Take a moment to complete OCS & Big Lottery Fund’s survey and tell them what online support you use now and what you will need in future.

[The OCS BLF survey is now closed]

Note that this is not an official consultation, but a snapshot survey to inform their developing policies.

Future trends and further information

Future technology trends are famously hard to predict – a few years back we had barely heard of Twitter, Facebook and Skype. By contributing to these discussions you can improve the voluntary sector websites you do use and help develop ones the sites and services of the future.

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