We have asked 7 questions to Dave Amos, the Development Director of Do-it.
- Can you briefly present Do-it?
Do-it is The UK’s National Volunteering Database. It’s run by a registered charity and since 2000 has been publishing Volunteering Opportunities online, free of charge. We’ve just re-launched with a completely new purpose-built platform because we needed to have a site which encourages volunteers to behave socially, just as they do in the real world when they volunteer.
- How is Do-it doing?
Do-it is not only the largest volunteering site in the UK it’s also one of the largest independent public and community sector sites here too. People love having a site where they can help and improve society by doing something themselves and of course, volunteering listings (all 50,000 of them) are free! The new site is attracting over 12,000 sessions and 500+ new registrations per day and naturally our (paid-for) job board is growing alongside it.
- What are the Do-it strengths? How did the company manage to remain one of the major players in the British volunteering market for so long?
We don’t just serve the market, we are a product of it. We are a registered charity and our staff volunteer outside of work so we have a good understanding of the sector. Not having to pay shareholders allows us to keep our cost-base low and our income/ investment ratio high. We’re established yet still small-enough to spot opportunities, make decisions and act on them quickly.
- More generally, how is the UK e-recruitment market doing today? What about the volunteering market?
The pace of change in the UK recruitment publishing market is increasing. You can never sleep now. Just look at the number of platforms that job-seekers use. That presents a challenge to recruiters that want to reach them. Years ago in the UK you had to take a highly-priced job advert in the classified section in the rear of a print publication. You couldn’t advertise “run of paper”. Now advertisers can reach out to the potential recruit wherever they are and whatever they’re doing, not just when they’re determinedly job-hunting. Personally I think that’s wonderful because copy-writing and art-direction are becoming critical again. They have to be in order to compete with all the other messages trying to grab one’s attention.
There are significant links between volunteering and paid-work. The last piece of work we did on the subject suggested that over 40% of people used volunteering in order to get on the job-ladder or develop their career which is of course why we have launched a jobs market on our site. Since London hosted the 2012 Olympic games there appears to have been a shift in the perception of volunteers and volunteering. People now recognise that there’s a “war for talent” here too and in a well-run volunteering scheme there is a recognition that there are 2 equal beneficiaries. The Organisation gets committed people that help them deliver their service and the volunteer gets to learn new skills, stretch themself, meet a cool bunch of people and of course feels good about doing good. Volunteering isn’t just something that middle-class middle-aged people do. National schemes like National Citizenship Service and VInspired are exploring great ways of getting young people engaged in and making really useful contributions to society. Over 50% of Do-it users are aged between 18-34 and almost 70% are female.
- What has changed in the last year or so? New trends? Technology?
We launched in 2000 when very few organisations had the capacity to even list their own roles, IT was a team of people on another floor and phones were for making phone-calls. Technology has got faster, smaller and mainstream. Social Media is growing fast which is why we connected with LinkedIn to help develop the professional skills-based volunteering market alongside the team at Reach Volunteering.
In the last 12 months, budget cuts have meant that it’s a vital time for organisations to involve volunteers, not to replace professional paid-employees, but to augment them with their experience, enthusiasm and skills. Technology makes distance volunteering possible and I am sure there will be more opportunities to volunteer for short time-specific project (speed-volunteering).
- Which major challenges will the e-recruitment face in the up-coming years? What do you predict for this area in the future?
Keeping pace with change will the biggest challenge for publishers and they will need to be agile-enough to evolve in order to make enough money to survive. There have already been some significant consolidations of job-board ownership as that market reaches a state of maturity, it’s possible that more job-boards will close or be sold-off because their owners feel they have taken them as far as they can and they are struggling to adapt. I am betting that smaller organisations (not necessarily commercial ones) may be the beneficiaries of a more chaotic publishing environment. Their low cost-base, flexibility and willingness to work with “bright young people” will help. If they’re useful enough they will prosper, if not, they don’t deserve to and will fail. We’re partnering with several small teams from other organisations with great ideas because we recognise that collaboration works!
- What are the next steps, plans and projects for Do-it?
Being a small charity with big aims, we act collaboratively because only by working with great people can we achieve our society-changing ambitions. We already work with Third Sector (Jobs) and The Guardian to offer smaller “beyond profit” organisations the chance to reach the best available job candidates and have just begun sharing 9,000 of our UK-based skilled volunteering opportunities with LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace. We are powering The Mayor of London’s “Team London” speed-volunteering site and we’re looking to offer that platform as a white label more widely, not just in the UK.
Finally, in the next couple of months, we will be launching our native app built for us by a wonderful team of volunteers at a major financial institution.
About Dave Amos:
Dave has been working in and leading sales teams for many of the UK publishing groups. For the last 10 years he has specialised in online media. He’s represented leading national job-boards and even launched and run his own, learning a lot about marketing on the way!
Author: Kelly Desormes
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