Community Comms Collective gets a taste of its own medicine

As an organisation focused on delivering skilled volunteer support to community organisations, the Community Comms Collective has relished the opportunity to be at the receiving end of skilled volunteer support – gaining much needed expertise from Business Analyst Hannah Pearson-Coats.

The ‘requirements gathering’ team story map the collective’s end-to-end process

Established in Wellington in 2013 on goodwill, a website and two excel spreadsheets, today the Community Comms Collective is a nationwide service of more than 500 volunteers. While we’ve scaled up to meet demand, those two spreadsheets have remained at the centre of our operations, giving us growing pains. With funding from the New Zealand Communication Association when it wound up in 2021, we had the means to make our matchmaking lives easier, but struggled to know where to start.

Enter Hannah Pearson-Coats, a long-term friend of the collective since she was involved in a similar organisation in the IT space several years back. Hannah says she agreed to help out because helping people do good work makes her happy. “And because I was previously part of an effort to do something similar for the CCC and I was always disappointed that we didn’t get a solution over the line. So I welcomed the opportunity to redress that!”

Hannah says she worked with some of the collective’s matchmakers to understand and story map our end-to-end process, and what we would want (and need) from any system upgrade. She then worked with our chosen vendor – WalkerScott – to make sure the solution we chose – a customised version of Microsoft’s volunteer management app – would do what we needed it to do.

For Hannah, the best part of the project was getting to do collaborative story-mapping. “It’s my favourite approach to requirements gathering, and doing it with smart people who simply wanted the best outcome—what could be more delightful?

The collective’s co-founders go through the story map with Hannah

“I am a HUGE nerd about BA work so I absolutely did not mind doing BA work on my own time and working with volunteers and subject-matter-experts is always the best because they’re so passionate about their thing.”

Community Comms Collective co-founder Gail Marshall says she continues to be blown away by what Hannah has done for the collective on a voluntary basis and the invaluable expertise she has brought to the project.

“I always love hearing community organisations rave about the work of our volunteers and the difference they’ve made, and now I know exactly how they feel. Hannah is super smart and hugely generous, and we have been so lucky to have had her guiding us through this. We talk about offering a communications boost, but we’ve enjoyed a Hannah boost. We really can’t thank her enough.”

Hannah says seeing good people do good work is inspiring and she tries not to turn down opportunities to be inspired. “So while I’m not a comms expert, I’m stoked to have had the chance to work with the collective on this project.

“The way I see it, the strength of Community Comms Collective is that it does a defined thing and does it very well. It isn’t confused about what it does or who it serves, but just focuses on doing comms for community groups as well as it can. That’s awesome to see! I think its stability and longevity is testament to the power of having a clear goal and just doing it.”

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I always love hearing community organisations rave about the work of our volunteers and the difference they’ve made, and now I know exactly how they feel.

Gail MarshallCommunity Comms Collective