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P-272 When volunteers met AI: transforming volunteer communications through chatbots and workplace
  1. Morven MacLean and
  2. Will McLean
  1. Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS), Edinburgh, UK


With a diverse volunteer base, it’s difficult to find a method of communication to suit everyone. A recent review of volunteer communications allowed volunteers the opportunity to voice their views about the way in which CHAS communicates with them. Volunteers stated that communications were ad hoc, inconsistent and one-way. They wanted timely, relevant communications and a chance to share their views and network with others. They also favoured online communications.

A working group, chaired by a volunteer, was established in order to improve communications and identify an online communications platform, as requested by volunteers. The group researched options and decided that Workplace by Facebook was the most suitable platform. Free for charitable organisations, the platform has the same functionality/navigation as Facebook, making it very accessible.

A successful pilot led to the scaling up of the platform for all volunteers. With 500 sign-ups in less than the first six weeks, Workplace has transformed our volunteer communications and engagement, creating an opportunity for dialogue with volunteers, flattening hierarchy and enabling volunteers to access and receive real-time communications.

Workplace has strengthened the volunteer voice and improved the two-way communication with the organisation significantly. Volunteers have told us that they now feel more informed and connected to CHAS. Facebook analytics have allowed us to measure the success of the platform. We have harnessed digital technology (Workplace and the use of bots) to transform our volunteer communications and drive engagement. We are keen to showcase this project to other hospices as we feel it could enhance volunteer and employee communications in hospices across the country.

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