Facebook, LinkedIn... ivo? Social network for social action live next week
A new social network for volunteers which is aiming to be a major new force for social and community benefit in the UK and worldwide is asking councils and other public bodies to join when it goes live next week.
Speaking to UKAuthority.com ahead of the launch, Jamie Ward-Smith, chief executive and founder of ivo said the site aims to connect people with voluntary opportunities and with each other, to share tips and experiences.
The service is based on a revamp of i-volunteer, a "social action network" set up in 2010 by Red Trust, a charity set up by Ward-Smith to promote the use of new technologies to modernise volunteering. Previously, he ran the Kensington and Chelsea Volunteer Centre, helping it become the first in the country to have a website, before co-founding Do-it, a national site listing volunteer opportunities.
"Do-it is essentially a listings site, and i-volunteer was next the stage on for that type of service following research with charities and individuals who said they wished there was a network that was just about volunteering where they could share experience, connect with like-minded people," Ward-Smith said. "It's like the difference between a jobs listing site and LinkedIn."
The new site ivo builds on i-volunteer with easier ways to share information, better interaction with other networks like Facebook and a register of available volunteers to allow organisations to find people by location and skills, he said. In the long term, the site hopes to reach financial sustainability through a mix of advertising and premium services for organisations including councils.
"Local authorities are often looking to involve communities and volunteers with their work", Ward-Smith said. "We'd be keen for local authorities to use ivo not only to promote opportunities they have for volunteers, but to network with other local authority people and charities in their area. We want it to be a networking tool so people can ask 'has anyone got information on this, or a policy on that?'"
Ultimately, if investment can be found, the site could go global - it already has US and Australian members - sitting alongside the biggest social networks, Ward-Smith said.
"In less than two years i-volunteering reached 30,000 unique visitors with no marketing spend, through word of mouth and Twitter. We're all about individuals - ask anyone in the business of running volunteer projects and they will say the most effective way of recruiting is word of mouth."
The vision for ivo is to become the third big social network, he said: so if Facebook is for our social lives, and LinkedIn for our work, ivo would be for our community-focused, voluntary or non-profit work.
Many others have launched social networks with big plans to rival the giants, and failed... but if ivo does succeed, it will surely benefit all our communities - and you heard it here first.
Ivo [from 17 April] http://www.ivo.org