2016/2017 has been a year of general ‘modernization’ also for Explore.
We have introduced some new team players and recently appointed a new Trustee, Mrs Katie Thom, Deputy Head of St. Mary’s Southampton. We have initiated a digital dimension to our operations such as a new team communications tool Slack.com, an impact reporting process run through SurveyMonkey.com. This we are currently trialling with schools who are receptive to enabling students to give feedback via their mobile phones to us instantly at the end of each session – and we now have a regular blog post aimed directly at our youth audience through articles written in-house by Michaela Hyde our Essex-based local development officer – see www.theexploreexperience.wordpress.com.
In addition, we have appointed a Development Manager, Lisa Gagliani MBE, who is helping us with funding strategy and marketing. Lisa has introduced a social media strategy, using the Twitter name @Explorecharity which from humble beginnings now has over 300 followers and is enabling us to have a wider voice in the youth charity space.
Shortly, we will be rebuilding our website with a focus on making it easier to reach new schools and for them to make enquiries and even bookings for Explore sessions directly online. Teachers, we acknowledge are extremely busy and need to be able to access materials and extra-curricular resource when they need it.
Over the year, we have recognized that whilst ‘knocking on doors’ is always important, it is also true that teachers cannot respond easily ‘during office hours’ so it is perhaps more helpful to enable them to book Explore when they have time to do so.
Another digital dimension is through our fundraising; in June we took part in small charities week Big Advice Day and also encouraged volunteers to give and get a small donation doubled via giving to us at www.localgiving.com/explore and were pleased to receive £1,200+ during the week. We now look forward to taking part in another matched-giving campaign, The Big Give Christmas Challenge with a pledge already secured by our Founder Rex Chester MBE.