Saturday, February 23, 2008


With over 100 staff and over 450 volunteers and thousands of supporters in the community, keeping them all up to date with events at the Hospice is a constant challenge. As a team we debate how many trees should be sacrificed for this purpose, how much time and money should we expend on different forms of communication or should we grasp the 21st century and put it all online?

Our team newsletter "Network" recently dropped from being published every 2 weeks, to every 4 weeks and we missed it. There were jobs needing to be advertised and pieces of news that needed to be circulated, so it is going back to 2 weekly.

The answer for some people may be for news to be published online on our Intranet (when it goes live) for people to access when they want it; or we could use RSS feeds to keep people up to date when new items appears. A video on YouTube gives an explanation about what an RSS feed is.

The refurbishment project is involving many people inside the organisation and external companies. After some research I decided that we would use a Web 2.0 system called Basecamp
which has given us a shared site for messages, files, a timeline and an all important to do list.

Web products are definitely the way forward for those with access to the Internet another 5 minute video explaining how the web has progressed, but we also have to remember that not everyone has access to or is able to use the Internet with a sense of confidence. Whilst I would expect our staff to be improving their IT skills we have many volunteers, who need to be kept informed using more traditional methods of communication.

So the answer will always be a mix of paper and different forms of electronic communication, but we must not forget the importance of talking and listening. I have started giving regular briefings and am trying to do them every 4 to 6 weeks, with notes being published in Network. It gives my team a chance to hear me talk about what is happening and ask me questions.

Last week I was joined by Jane Rutherford our Acting Chairman of the Board of Trustees, her words and enthusiasm and support for staff were inspiring; but more than that it connected our Trustee Board more closely to the staff and volunteers and I shall definitely be making sure that there is one Trustee at every briefing.

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