Do-it is the UK’s national volunteering database and comprises of a public-facing website and associated services to support it, including a desktop application and various web-based utilities.
Much like an online jobs board, our website, www.do-it.org.uk, lists volunteering opportunities based on a simple postcode search and a more advanced search that allows for further filtering. Once you’ve found a suitable opportunity, you can register and apply for the opportunity. Once you’ve registered your details are stored so that you do not need to re-enter your details when you apply for subsequent opportunities.
The website also includes a Volunteer Centre finder service, information and blogs about volunteering as well as information for new and existing organisations seeking to recruit volunteers.
The organisations who partner with Do-it to make use of our services generally fall into two distinct groups. Of the 700 direct partners we have, approximately half of them are Volunteer Centres, independent organisations that support volunteering in the locality that they serve (usually a local authority area). Volunteer Centres make use of our bespoke V-Base CRM desktop software to run their brokering service, and in return for getting the software at 100% discount upload their opportunities to Do-it. Through this network, Do-it is able to help thousands of small local charities and ensure the quality of those opportunities is maintained.
Our other main group of partners use a web-based service called Recruiter to post opportunities directly through us. This group are mainly national and regional charities (such as the National Trust and Marie Curie), but also can include health trusts, local authorities and similar organisations that make use of volunteers. These partners pay an annual fee for use of this service.
We have recently built a new service called Uploader, which allows partners with existing databases to automatically transfer their opportunities into Do-it. Although we have several partners interested in this, it has yet to be used in a live environment.
We are also near completion on a new service called Volunteer Finder, which will allow Do-it partners to find suitable volunteers within our database.
Since 2006 we have offered syndication of our data to various organisations through an XML API. Syndication allows organisations to show Do-it opportunity data on their own website within their own look and feel. They can also filter the data in numerous ways.
The main types of organisations who currently use the service:
- Volunteering organisations such as Volunteering England, Timebank, vinspired and Your Square Mile who use opportunities from our database to promote volunteering on their websites. Other organisations, from local authorities through to media organisations also use our data and until recently, we provided this service to the JobCentre Plus website, to sit alongside paid roles.
- Charities that use it on their own website to promote their own opportunities. Making use of our web-based interface means that charities can easily manage their portfolio of volunteering opportunities simultaneously on their own website, plus on Do-it. Several Volunteer Centres similarly use this service to promote opportunities that they have added to the database on their websites.
- Corporate and other large employers who want to promote volunteering to their workforce. As well as have a dedicated Do-it feed on their company intranet, which can be filtered to promote company priorities, we also provide a monthly report on the activity on the feed which can be used to measure their CSR objectives.
To find out more about syndication, please visit our product support site.
Do-it handles roughly 10 million search queries a month, and therefore we have invested in enterprise-level technologies to ensure that we can meet the demands placed on our service. Our web-based services are built in a Java/Spring environment, and we use an Oracle 11g database, generously given as a gift-in-kind by Oracle. We operate a Solaris zone based system at application level, and we have multiple physical application servers to ensure we have adequate failover and a staging environment that mirrors the production. Our servers are currently hosted at Imperial College, again as a gift-in-kind.
We make use of third-party services such as Postcode Anywhere to convert postcodes and locations into geographical references.
Scale and traffic
- Over one million individuals have chosen to register on Do-it since we rolled out the registration process in 2004
- Around 1,000 new people register on our service every day
- An application is made every 46 seconds on average (January 2013).
- Our average monthly unique users figure is around 185,000; although this can rise to 225,000 (Jan 2013).
- More than 8,500 fans on Facebook, and over 4,500 followers on Twitter.
Supporting and promoting volunteering
YouthNet has always looked to use the scale of Do-it’s reach to benefit volunteering initiatives, promoting relevant activity to the users of the site or to the partners. These initiatives vary from the 2005 Year of the Volunteer through to more recent campaigns such as the Jubilee Hour, Join In and TeamLondon, the Mayor of London’s volunteering campaign. We have also played a major role in supporting volunteering around the 2012 Olympics, including supporting LOCOG in promoting other opportunities to prospective Games Makers as part of the application and selection process.
Do-it has been part of several high profile media campaigns, including the Hairy Bikers’ BBC TV series about Meals of Wheels, which included a call to action that was powered by Do-it. Most recently we began a partnership with ITV to support their Text Santa campaign, something that they are planning to build on in forthcoming years. Previously we have been used by Honda on a nationwide media campaign to help promote a new car.