Falling for SOFII again

It's always great to receive positive feedback from SOFII users and here Tony Charalambides sings our praises and explains why you should fall for SOFII too.

Written by
Tony Charalambides
Added
September 12, 2014

Readers of my blog will know I’m a big fan of SOFII.

SOFII – if you haven’t come across it before – is a showcase of all kinds of fundraising knowledge and resources. It makes good, effective fundraising accessible to everyone for free. And as I’ve noted previously, its ideas are user friendly and scalable so philanthropists of all sizes can benefit.

What’s not to like about tried and tested fundraising ideas available for nothing? This unique, ever growing reservoir of donor engagement deserves all the praise it gets. But there’s a problem: its main interface with its fundraising public is its website, a website SOFII has long been eager to revamp as user needs have outstripped its functionality and design.

Yet I’m pleased to report the wait is over. Over the past year or so, SOFII has been the recipient of donations from a whole host of agencies, foundations and individuals (of which, I’m pleased to say, Listen is one) and this has led to a much anticipated site rebuild and now an imminent site re-launch.

It’s a big moment for an organisation you sense is just scratching the surface. But what will a rebooted web presence really mean for SOFII?

There’s probably no-one better to put that question to than Sue Kershaw, development director there. So that’s exactly what I did:

‘We're hoping the new website will boost our user numbers around the world,’ she told me, while noting that the number of daily users the site gets has already tripled (if not quadrupled) since 2009. ‘As it is, at least once every month, 15-20,000 individual users make use of the SOFII service from almost every country in the world.’

It’s amazing to think that SOFII – which still only has two part time members of staff – has achieved a global impact in its six years of operation. But, clearly, demand is on the rise. And according to Sue, the website is critical not just to meeting that demand, but to ensuring SOFII is well positioned to fundraise if and when the brief evolves still further in the future:

‘We have to keep up with the needs of fundraisers accessing SOFII on their mobile devices and make sure the way they can search the site is sophisticated enough to meet their needs.’
‘But because we’re dependent on the goodwill of volunteers, we're also hoping the new site will generate more financial support for SOFII from corporate donors, fundraising associations and from charities themselves as they recognise SOFII's massive impact as a resource for fundraisers everywhere.’

As I understand it, the new SOFII site will do a whole host of things it couldn’t do before, not least offer a faster, more user friendly search function – vital for navigating its rapidly expanding and newly organised library of resources – and responsive design that means SOFII-enthusiasts can check out its offerings on just about any web enabled gizmo they can get their hands on.

But for my money, the most exciting feature of the new improved SOFII is that many of the exhibits will now be available in several languages, including French, SpanishItalian and Portuguese thanks to the work of selfless volunteer translators. It’s a function that goes a long way to catering for its non-English speaking audiences, and one that could prove to be just the tip of the multi-lingual iceberg as SOFII transitions into a truly global service in the coming years.

For now, after more than a year of planning and developing, SOFII is launching the new look website:

‘Above all, we're thrilled and excited at the prospect of launching a more modern, purpose-built website,’ says Sue, ‘if slightly nervous that it lives up to expectations!’

Judging by SOFII’s rise to prominence so far – a product of genuine insight and outright hard work – she really has nothing to worry about.

About the author: Tony Charalambides

Tony Charalambides

Tony is the Founder/Managing Director of Listen, an award-winning telephone fundraising agency based in the UK and now raising money and awareness for good causes worldwide. He has been fundraising since 2003 and is particularly interested in supporter engagement and innovation. He is a regular blogger and you can follow his tweets @Tcharalambides or e-mail him. Listen donated £10,000 in matched funding towards SOFII's new website.

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