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AFS Intercultural Programs Online Community to Improve Communication
AFS Intercultural Programs is a youth organisation drawing together 50 independent, not-for-profit groups. It has 60 offices, programmes in 100 countries, 800 staff and 40,000 volunteers, all of which makes internal communication and joined-up working very difficult.
For AFS to function efficiently, it was vital the community became an effective communication and collaboration tool, but its online community had little traction with staff and volunteers. Marketing and technical specialist 4Roads were engaged for a seismic overhaul.
4Roads performed an upgrade and customisation.
Volunteers can now also access online tools and resources – and direct communication is possible between staff and volunteers at all levels.
The redevelopment led to a significant upsurge in use. More than 20,000 people (roughly half the volunteers) are now registered. By the first half of 2017, user engagement grew 120% year-on-year.
To enable the customisation and redevelopment of the Telligent-powered community, 4Roads moved the site to self-hosting on the Cloud. Previously, it had be a SaaS proposition.
The redeveloped site boosts a host of new tools and features created by 4Roads.
- An Announcements application enabling users to post announcements and tag them in multiple groups or to different user types
- A ‘Find a AFSer’ feature - an alumnus search tool with searching available by programme, year, and/or country
- A ‘Find a Mentor’ feature to help volunteers locate professional and academic support
- A new Resources Centre where information can be easily housed, edited, and updated
- Homepage banners to highlight important news, announcements, and events
- Personalisation features on the homepage to show relevant groups and resources
- A homepage feed displaying announcements and new content
- User interface changes to provide consistency across multiple communities
- An activity feed and user profile enhancements
- Integration of a VOIP application for video calling within the platform
The new Resources Centre means staff across all networks are aligned and working to the same standard as they access a single set of information and tools. This is a massive change.
The organisation also benefits from improved chapter management. Local volunteer groups, members, and contacts for each country are listed systematically, making it easy for others to understand local structures, find people, and make contact.