Business in the Community Ireland are delighted to announce that Google’s annual volunteering programme GoogleServe is returning for July 2021 to support Irish charities through skills-based employee assistance. BITCI have partnered with Google over the last six years to support the GoogleServe programme. GoogleServe 2021 will build on the highly successful Covid-19 Digital Initiative in 2020, where almost 200 NGOs, charities and voluntary organisations across Ireland benefitted from the online expertise of Google volunteers.
The 2020 Google Covid-19 Digital Initiative
In April 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions first hit, Business in the Community Ireland partnered with Google Ireland to support charities, NGOs, and community organisations across Ireland. The purpose of Google’s Covid-19 Digital Initiative was to take the skills and expertise of Google volunteers in their Irish office to address the critical needs of the community & voluntary sectors, chiefly in terms of helping charities work online effectively during the lockdown. As the world transitioned to working from home, this was a very challenging time for non-profit organisations – particularly those who had never had to work remotely before – and the initiative helped these organisations shift to delivering their programmes in a digital format.
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What was BITCI’s involvement in the process?
Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) has been working with Google Ireland over the past 6 years on their GoogleServe project by sourcing volunteering opportunities and brokering partnerships with local community organisations for team volunteering. How BITCI were able to drive the impact of this reach of the Covid-19 Digital Initiative was by advising Google on the design of the process (based on our two decades experience working with the third sector) and then promoting it to our comprehensive database of Irish charity and NGO contacts. BITCI were then able to assist in managing the large number of applications from the community & voluntary sectors, helping Google match their volunteers with the specific requests raised by the charities.
How did the Covid-19 Digital Initiative work?
When charities signed up, Google volunteers then conducted a needs assessment with them to see what online services they required to move to working from home more effectively. These needs assessments determined what were the most urgent and critical needs for organisations during the Covid-19 crisis and analysed what digital skills these charities might require to meet the needs of their clients and service users more effectively during the pandemic. The Google volunteers then offered support sessions so that charities could teach their staff on how to use the G-Suite services and resources.
What Supports were available to Charities through the Covid-19 Digital Initiative?
Among the supports and resources that were available to Irish charities and NGOs through the initiative were advice from the Google volunteers on how to stay connected with their employees, their own volunteers, members and service users (whether through setting up effective online meetings, web chat facilities, or making internal sites to host news and updates). Charities could get one-to-one advice on how to make the best use of Google Ad Grants for Non-Profits and to optimise their online advertising as part of a wider digital marketing campaign. Charities could benefit from expert advice on SEO and adapting their websites to improve their performance on Google Search, and thus generating greater awareness for their causes and campaigns. They could get support on how to create and grow a YouTube channel for their organisation so they could host virtual fundraising events, drive greater awareness and donations, and tell the stories of their organisation more vividly. And where Irish charities had an education component to their services, the Google volunteers could help tutor them on the resources on their ‘Teach from Anywhere’ Hub (such as setting up online classes through Google Classroom) so that they could move their education programmes online.
Impact and Outcomes from the 2020 Covid-19 Digital Initiative
All of these resources and the expert advice of the Google volunteers helped Irish non-profits to stand out online, engage their donors, and collaborate with their teams throughout the pandemic, while also helping to build the resilience and adaptability of their organisations. Over the course of 2020, over 180 charities, NGOs and community organisations participated in the initiative and benefitted from the support of volunteers from Google Ireland, helping these organisations to maintain their vital services during the pandemic.
The value of this initiative was endorsed by Austin O’Sullivan, Director of Resources & Organisation Development at WALK – a non-profit organisation dedicated to empowering people with disabilities to live independent, self-determined lives. Austin O’Sullivan related how the 2020 Google Covid-19 Digital Initiative “really brought together both our staff and the people who use our services and helped both staff and service users come on in leaps and bounds digitally”. For organisations like WALK, “a lot of the people we support would have known very little about technology – and wouldn’t have seen it as being part of their lives – but have now found that technology is delivering a lot of their social outlets as well as their training needs”.
And it wasn’t just the charities who felt they benefitted from the 2020 Covid-19 Digital Initiative. The Google volunteers also believed the programme – by allowing them to use their skills for positive social impact and helping them to build connections with the local community – made them feel more engaged in their day-to-day roles during the lockdowns. As Freda Cunningham, People Consultant with Google’s HR Team, described the initiative: “to do something during the acute stage of the pandemic to help Irish charities to get online felt like a great volunteering experience and I felt lucky to be able to do that. Both me and the charity I was working with felt like we learnt from each other”.
GoogleServe Initiative for Irish Charities – July 2021
Google Ireland’s annual volunteering initiative – GoogleServe – is returning for the summer of 2021. The GoogleServe initiative gives Irish charities the opportunity to benefit from the assistance of Google volunteers to help them with the challenges and needs their organisations are experiencing.
Among the areas where the Google volunteers can provide support to Irish charities during July 2021 are:
How Irish Charities can sign-up to GoogleServe during July 2021
The sign-up process for Irish Charities to avail of the assistance on offer through GoogleServe is easy. Your organisation just needs to complete this form, provide your contact details and describe the area(s) where you feel your charity could benefit from the assistance of the Google volunteers.
The volunteer support on offer through GoogleServe will be available to Irish charities up until the end of July 2021, so make sure you complete that form as soon as you can. If you have any questions or queries about whether the Google volunteers might be able to assist your charity with your specific needs, please reach out directly to email@example.com and the GoogleServe Ireland team will only be too happy to assist you.
Once your organisation is registered for the initiative and has outlined your needs on the form, the GoogleServe team will recruit Google volunteers who can help you in the areas where you require assistance. And if your organisation is already registered for Benevity – Google’s giving platform – then there is the possibility your charity could gain $10 for every hour that the Google volunteers ‘donate’ to you (again, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for any queries you might have relating to Benevity).
How BITCI can help your Company with your Volunteering Plans
The GoogleServe initiative is just one example of how BITCI are helping businesses across Ireland to implement volunteering campaigns that drive employee engagement while also having a positive social impact.
If your company is a member of BITCI, and you want to find out more about how you can have a similar positive impact in the communities in which you operate, then talk to your BITCI Account Manager and they will be delighted to speak to you about how to achieve your volunteering objectives. Or, if your company is not yet a member of BITCI, get in contact with Lorraine O’Toole to learn more about how your company could make a positive difference through meaningful volunteering initiatives or visit our areas of expertise to find out more how we can support your community and corporate volunteering strategies.