Below is our recent interview with Sally Higham, the Founder and CEO of Groop:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Groop?
A: Groop has been dreamt, built, grown, lived and breathed, by a team of experts in youth work, sport, education and charities – a team who value volunteering as much as they do snazzy tech solutions. If you buy a car, wouldn’t you want someone to build it for you who’s passionate about driving cars? We’ve built a Volunteer Management Portal for organisations such as charities, national governing bodies of sport and corporate organisations who have networks of hundreds or thousands of volunteers and staff who run community projects, groups and events. Admin isn’t sexy, but it’s necessary, and helps keep community projects alive.
Q: Can you give us insights into your features?
A: Our big 3 areas of support are Communications, Governance and Data. Always data! But this time we are talking about safe, ethically managed data. Just watch The Great Hack and that will make you appreciate the value of ethically managed data. Data for good. We are enabling people like you, your children, your parents, your friends, to go to their sports group, classes, events and hobbies; feeling secure that those running that project are looking after your data assets, enabling you to chat securely in a live time social media feed and share, post and RSVP to your activity – and even pay for it instantly! What’s not to like? At the same time the group/project is provided with secure storage for all their documents, photos, videos, governance material (that’s the crucial stuff like risk assessments, safeguarding policies etc). And all of this is built on a very powerful, customised database that enables the over-arching organisation to report on literally anything related to those individuals taking part; the quantitive and qualitative data on the volunteers, and the activities, at any time. Want to know about Safety Certificates? Check. Have they taken the right Training Courses? Check. Have they got the right Coaching Skills? Check. Are they happy? Check. How many 14 year old boys in a particular postcode play football? Check. Shoe sizes? Check. (We have a roller dome who really do require reporting on shoe sizes).
If you want to communicate with your volunteers and participants on the activities, provide them with information, share important training or news, provide them with opportunities to attend events or access products and want a safe community environment to do just that, then Groop can support you.
Q: What is CSR? Why is it important?
A: Corporate organisations want to show value to their employees, their Boards, the public, that is way beyond nice stuff like pensions and perks. Millennials want to feel they are part of something socially aware and are practically contributing to society. Corporates have cottoned onto this and want to support those employees to volunteer away from the workforce. Groop.com help them track the volunteer engagement, record their activities, help them share the experience and encourage more sharing of knowledge, skills and conscience, whilst reporting back the impact they are making to society to the Boards – demonstrating the difference they make in reality, not just hearsay. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is growing and of huge value to big Corporates and their HR and marketing departments.
Q: What are your core values?
A: If you cut any of our team in half you would see ‘Groop’ emblazoned across. I set about building Groop because I wanted to change the world with as great an impact as I possibly could. I would describe it roughly like travelling the Himalayas on a camel, albeit a tough camel! Our – carefully chosen and very talented – team are driven to connect groups to build a greater society. We want everyone to belong and feel inspired to take part, embracing life’s opportunities. We want to help combat loneliness and mental and physical health problems, by supporting those who do the hard graft to make activities happen for people.
Q: What makes you different?
A: The fact we care. Last week we met with 6 major national charities and have started work with two of them already, and they all say the same thing – not only do we have an outstanding tech solution but we properly understand the end user, the volunteer who puts that hard graft in that I mentioned earlier. All of us volunteer in our own worlds in our spare time, and this is critical to understanding how to build a million pounds worth of tech that meets the needs of the user and solves their problems – and of course is user friendly because we get that volunteers are incredibly busy people – just like you and I.
Q: What can we expect from Groop in the future?
A: A big tech development roadmap (demonstrates by holding arms wide here that you can’t see). There’s much more to come, including Open Data availability, which is a biggie, a ‘Disrupting Volunteering’ Conference and multiple events. We are fortunate to have continued support to develop and our team are always thinking about the future as we work closely with all our partners to build that on-the-ground intelligence that feeds into the product. We are working with Councils, National Charities and Governing Bodies across the UK, but of course we want to shift out globally before too long. The market is there, the demand is rapidly growing in a sector that is still in its infancy in terms of tech solutions; but we have serious experience and confident to move forward at pace. It’s an exciting time for our customers and for the Team; the future of volunteering is Groop.com