Future First and the future of digital

Future First are the only UK charity working with state schools and colleges to build alumni networks, helping young people across the country to access relatable role models and social capital.

But did you know we are also innovators in the digital space? We have built an online platform specially designed to support state schools and colleges to build alumni communities. The platform allows schools to sign up alumni and ‘friends’, search and filter and contact supporters through a centralised mailbox. Schools can also use the platform to manage events and activity, add more users from their school or college and customise the sign up form. A separate platform for alumni and other supporters allows them to keep their profile up to date, RSVP to events, and submit material to appear on a poster.

We are now considering what the future looks like for Future First digital, and the user research we’ve undertaken so far has highlighted some key themes.

Engagement for young volunteers

Office for National Statistics data tells us that young adults aged 16 to 24 are volunteering more than ever (ONS 2017), and this is backed up by our own volunteer statistics, with 44% of alumni volunteers in the academic year 2017-18 being under the age of 25 (Future First annual review 2017-18). Young adults are the foundation of a school’s alumni network, since they are part of the network from the day they leave, and so keeping this age group engaged is key. Developing our digital offer to enhance young volunteer engagement is one possible consideration, which the member schools and colleges we have spoken to would be in support of.

Volunteering remotely

NCVO’s 2019 report ‘Time Well Spent’ suggests that individuals who do not currently volunteer regularly are more likely to become engaged in volunteering if it is mostly or all online. The report also found that ‘people want to give time on their own terms’. We know that many people are no longer based near their old school, and finding time during the school day to volunteer in person is often prohibitive. Further, online volunteering allows for a more diverse volunteer network. NCVO tell us that disabled people are ‘more than twice as likely as non-disabled people to provide their service online’.

Remote support already takes place across Future First’s member schools and colleges, for example alumni providing revision advice by email, reviewing CVs and UCAS statements remotely, and sending video profiles. Formalising this support and providing tools to make volunteering accessible for all schools and volunteers could help us significantly broaden our reach.

 

We want to hear from you!

We are in the preliminary stages of putting together our digital strategy for the coming years, and want to speak to as many of our stakeholders as possible to find out what you want to see us doing digitally.

If you’re a Future First member school or college, a former student registered to our network, or a partner, and you’d like to share your thoughts, contact Laura Underwood, Director of Operations & Finance, on laura.underwood@futurefirst.org.uk or 02072398933.