Chance to Change: Volunteering Toolbox

2019content design, editing

Chance to Change: Volunteering Toolbox is an online resource for volunteering initiatives interested in the topic of youth violence.

The website is an output of an international capacity-building project within the Erasmus+ framework. The involved organizations have worked together, created a number of very interesting materials, and needed to make them accessible somehow.

screenshot: homepage

The original idea was to present the outcomes in print. But from previous experiences of my organization, print materials often struggle to reach the intended audience. It's not easy to get a booklet to the right hands. Not as easy to send a link.

From that, the idea to create a website was born. As an EVS volunteer, I offered my skills to make this a reality. My role was to take the created material and create a website from it, keeping with the original idea and the wishes of the authors.

The project's goal was to share expertise on running volunteering activities against youth violence. The output consists of:

  1. A case study of a youth volunteer initiative. This material is aimed at organizations and it provides advice for managing volunteers, communicating with schools, and so on.
  2. An instructional material for volunteers. This text is aimed at a novice volunteer and should help them avoid common problems, such as communication issues, lack of preparation, etc.
  3. A collection of anti-violence activities. These activities were collected and tested during the project and are prepared in a common format. The target audience for this is volunteers, teachers or organizations.

It was clear from the start that my main task will be organization. The goal would be to make all created content accessible, both in the terms of structure (separating content to pages and creating a hierarchy, to make the content navigable) and presentation (creating an "identity" which would help visitors understand what they can expect from the project).

We have chosen to use WordPress.com for the project. Some project participants already used it before, and it allowed us to focus on content only. If needed, we could export the content and move to a self-hosted WordPress instance - but that proved unnecessary.

One initial problem was the split of target audience: both organizations and volunteers. After discussion with the creators, we've decided to choose volunteers as the primary target group and present the content for organizations as "advanced" materials.

Since the text was originally created for a printed material, it was necessary to make some edits. I focused on readability, for example by adding paragraphs, splitting text into multiple pages or adding linked outlines.

Another web-oriented addition was tags for the activity collection. I explained the uses to the participants and helped them brainstorm possible tags to use; then we applied these to all collected activities. The result is a controlled tag cloud which can be used for searching the content based on multiple variables such as length of activity, age range or size of group.

The website was presented to students of University of Beira Interior, many of whom are current or future volunteers. The project was well-received and we hope that it will reach its intended audience.

screenshot: Facilitator's Checklist

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