BYOD for charities: how one community organisation is embracing mobile working with open arms

Jul 18, 2017

As mobile technology pervades every workplace, charities face the challenge of how to benefit from new ways of working while managing limited budgets. BYOD policies for charities have become a good way to make the most of resources already available to them, but how do you safely and efficiently enable large numbers of volunteers and temporary staff to use their own phones?

One charitable organisation meeting this challenge is the South Hill Centre in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. 

The South Hill Centre has been a big local success story since it opened in 2006 and a busy hub for community activities. Launched by South Hill Church, it provides a positive link between the church and local community, offering a wide range of services and facilities for Hemel Hempstead residents young and old.

From a dedicated pre-school and toddler group, to a youth club and a senior citizen’s lunch club, as well as courses and training in everything from arts and crafts to business management, employment support and English as a foreign language, the Centre is a hive of activity throughout the year.

Jeremy Keeley, Operations and Development Manager helps co-ordinate the many services and projects used by between 1,000 and 1,500 people coming through the Centre’s doors each week.

‘As with most charities funding is always a major consideration. As a small charity we very much try to sustain ourselves and we try as much as possible to not have to go through funding schemes and grants,’ says Keeley. ‘So when someone comes and says they can do us a favour and help us lower our costs, which smartnumbers has done, that really helps us.’

In November 2016 the Centre launched ‘STRIVE hub’: a project that aims to support people in gaining employment and self-employment, with free drop-in mentoring sessions to help boost employability skills for residents.

The project, led by Hertfordshire County Council, is part of the ‘Building Better Opportunities’ programme funded jointly by The Big Lottery Fund with match funding from the European Social Fund. The Centre also hosts projects such as ‘SHC Pathway’: a mentoring and support programme for ex-offenders, which sees a number of participants come to the Centre on a regular basis.

A helping hand

These externally-led projects mean a large number of contractors, as well as key members of staff and 50-70 regular volunteers, are working at the Centre. ‘We juggle so many different projects,’ says Keeley. ‘Part of the problem is that we’ve always worked with many contractors, as well as employees, and when dealing with clients we don’t always want to give out personal telephone numbers.’

Staff members previously had to carry around three or four different mobile phones for the various projects they manage at any one time.

‘That was a nightmare to manage,’ says Keeley. ‘You can’t carry all these different phones and know which one is running and keep them available. smartnumbers is a unique offering that helps us solve that.’

‘We needed a number we can circulate that can be used by participants but also for the contractors to contact us quickly and easily. With a smartnumber we don’t mind if it falls into the wrong hands, as it can be controlled.’

When the Centre took on a Hub Manager to coordinate the STRIVE project, they decided to give him his own smartnumber, which acts as a second number on his mobile phone. This way project participants, Centre staff and others can contact him on a dedicated work number, at a fraction of the cost of providing him a separate mobile phone.

‘It’s been perfect for what we need,’ says Keeley. ‘As and when we bring on new team members, and when contractors come on board to do specific things, we will look at giving them smartnumbers.’