Where is Neighbourforce based?
Neighbourforce is based in Woking, Surrey, in the United Kingdom. If you're not near us, get in touch anyway, so we can add you to a list of groups to work with when we roll this out.
What kind of groups can join Neighbourforce?
Existing community groups (like residents' associations, Mutual Aid groups or churches) can join Neighbourforce, or you could start a completely new group. The common thread between groups we can help is that they help residents in a neighbourhood, either on an ongoing basis, or in a crisis. Often they help people with shopping, mobility, prescription collection and errands, food parcels, or care calls, or dog walking. They may also organise group-based community volunteering such as litter picking.
Is Neighbourforce a charity or a company?
Neighbourforce is (applying to be) a social enterprise. The particular legal form that we will take will be a CIC or Community Interest Company, limited by guarantee. That means that in the UK we will be held to the same reporting standards as other limited companies, but we have a clearly defined social purpose rather than a profit-making purpose, and any surplus funds will be reinvested into scaling the organisation and having greater impact, or into the community which our organisation benefits.
Is Neighbourforce an advisory organisation?
No. Neighbourforce is a services company, providing technical services to local groups, wherever you are in the UK. We package up the technology you need to run a local volunteering group, as well as other support services.
What technology will be included?
For most groups using Neighbourforce, they will want:
- a virtual phone number and voicemail
- an email account (if they haven't got one already)
- a database to store volunteer information, client information and job information, and also resources specific to the organisation
- a portal for volunteers to update their information and see their activity
- a portal for co-ordinators or administrators, to register and record jobs and allocate volunteers - which keeps the bulk of the information in your database safe from errors or abuse.
- a website or webpage to send local people to, where details can be updated and potential volunteers can be directed to sign up.
We provide all of this. If groups have some of it already, we will work with that.
One thing we don't provide is bulk emailing functionality, so if groups want to email all volunteers at once, they may need to use another service such as Mailchimp.
Is there ongoing support?
Yes. We provide ongoing support in terms of answering any queries group leaders have, and resolving any issues or making changes (subject to the constraints of our system).
We cannot always build new features if these are not supported by the underlying platforms we use, but we can try.
How long will it take to set up?
It all depends on the group. We need a meeting to understand the organisation, so we can set up the data structure correctly, then we can usually set this up within a few days. All the group organiser needs to do is populate the template we provide, with the group's own data. If you can use a spreadsheet, this should be straightforward, and you can take as long as you like to do this.
Can Neighbourforce be trusted with a group's data?
Yes. We take data security seriously. You retain control of your volunteers' and clients' data (as the legal data controller), and we sign a Data Processing Agreement with you, in which we promise to respect and protect any of your data we work with, as your service provider. Your volunteers sign up for a user account with Neighbourforce, but their data (their address, skills, preferences, etc) are all stored within an Airtable database that we hand over to you to populate. Once we've set up that Airtable database template for you, we hand control over to you and you populate it with your data, so we don't even see your data. The only data we store is user login details when a user creates an email address and password on our site to access your data..
Will this work for non-technical people?
Probably. If you can operate a smartphone or computer to a basic level, eg. logging in and out of a service, doing online banking, etc, this should be within your capabilities.
Can a group stop using Neighbourforce if they want to?
Of course. The data belongs to the group, and a group leader can just let us know if they want to disconnect their Airtable base from our system.
Why does Neighbourforce cost money?
The services that we offer are built on technology platforms which themselves cost money. This is minimised as much as possible, as much of the technology will be shared between multiple groups.
As you can imagine, to offer a good service, we will need to pay people. We keep the costs as low as we can, as we are a non-profit organisation..
How do you expect groups to pay Neighbourforce?
We will give you a lot of help to procure the funds to pay for Neighbourforce including letter templates, benefits cases, and ideas. You should not need to organise a bake sale or shake a bucket to pay for Neighbourforce.
Common ways to raise money to pay for this are:
- Asking your local councillor for a few hundred pounds seed money from his/her 'members' allowance'
- Requesting funding from your local council (parish council, borough council, County Council, or other), usually applied for and paid out once a year based on an application form.
- Asking your local estate agent for sponsorship of your local group's technology in return for a mention on your website, in publicity and on your voicemail.