October 30, 2018
Outline the vision and mission of the Organisation
SpunOut.ie was founded in 2004 on a vision which still guides the organisation: of an Ireland where young people are empowered with the information they need to live healthy, happy lives. Our mission is to empower young people throughout Ireland with the information, tools, resources and opportunities to assist better decision-making and create positive change in our own lives and in our communities.
How has the Organisation developed and tackled issues?
Never content to keep doing ‘good enough’, SpunOut.ie is always learning and improving in the work we do.
In 2017, the organisation went through a period of significant change in order to serve our readers better. In conducting our reader survey in 2016 and 2017, we started to establish an evidence baseline that is helping us develop a richer understanding of what our fellow young people want.
In 2017 we set about securing resources to expand our content team to five people, to do a full audit of all of our content, and to build a new content management system to improve how we work. All of this has now been completed and readers will benefit from these initiatives into the future.
Similarly, we know the relevance of SpunOut.ie content can be improved. We have appointed a new digital communications manager to keep on top of what young people are searching for online, to surface fresh insights from our own data in real time, and we have invested massively in expanding our Action Panel network to 160 young people to help us make sense of it all.
The tone of content can also always be improved. Back when SpunOut.ie was first founded there was a belief you needed to speak to young people in an ‘edgy’ way. Now, we just make sure all new content is written in accessible plain English and we are working to retrofit legacy content by simplifying the language used.
Our measurement framework sets out three outcome areas in which we feel our service can impact young people. The most important of these is that our readers feel informed by having read our content and we’re really happy 94% of readers agree they do. We also want young people to feel like SpunOut.ie is a source of support, and they do (86%). Most important of all though, we want to support young people to make better decisions in life, and we’re really happy that 64% of people said our information has encouraged behaviour change in a positive way.
What has the overall impact of the work been?
SpunOut.ie is a national organisation meeting a real and growing need for a free, online information source on matters of health, life, employment and education that is readable, reliable and non-judgmental in its outlook.
The numbers speak for themselves: in 2017, SpunOut.ie increased its reach by over 130,000 readers compared to the previous year and recorded an average of more than 100,000 monthly sessions. Overall, SpunOut.ie recorded 1,389,102 web sessions on SpunOut.ie last year, representing 1,060,699 individual readers viewing 1,996,279 pages of content.
The feedback from our Annual Survey, taking in the views of 1,000 young people who have engaged with our service, show a very clear and strong satisfaction with our work: 95% of readers are satisfied with the quality of our content, 96% with the relevance and tone, with 94% reporting they felt informed by SpunOut.ie. Perhaps most importantly, 91% of surveyed readers agreed with the statement that SpunOut.ie is a source of support to them, a sentiment reflected further in qualitative statements included on young people’s individual experiences with our service.
“As someone suffering from an eating disorder, it is comforting and supportive to get an insight into the experiences of other young people in Ireland. The sorts of questions I have at times are not easy to articulate to a parent or teacher. Yet when I see an article on a reliable platform such as SpunOut.ie about issues close to my heart, I feel understood. I remember I am not the only young person wondering about this. Clearly, many people my age have things to discuss that are quashed in a school or home environment. And I am very grateful that this platform gives me and my peers a voice. It makes me feel heard, to read the words of my peers. I may not yet be a contributor to SpunOut.ie, but I am very grateful that if the time comes, I have a space to voice my opinions" - Female, 19-21, Wexford
What makes this Organisation unique?
What makes Community Creations unique is that when we say we are youth-led, we mean it. In addition to our young staff and our large and growing network of young writers, reporters and volunteers, SpunOut.ie’s unique governance structure ensures we are led by young people, for young people in line with our founding ethos. This is ensured through the structure of our Youth Action Panels which bring together 160 young people aged 16-25 to guide the direction and decision of the organisation. This year, we significantly expanded our Action Panels to ensure diverse membership representing every part of the country and as wide as possible a sample of the approaches, backgrounds and philosophies that make up modern young Ireland.
In addition to reviewing and suggesting content for our site, the Action Panels have a real and irreplaceable input into governance decisions that affect the organisation, and are the group responsible for deciding our policies and stances in relation to many of the issues most important to Irish young people. For instance, it was through the carefully-considered decision of the Action Panel that SpunOut.ie took a vigorous stance in favour of the campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, becoming a founding member of the Youth4Yes campaign group.
In addition to the vital decisions made by the Action Panel members themselves, they are also represented on our Board of Directors by full voting Directors to ensure youth voices are amplified, resourced and heard at every level of our organisation. We believe our authentic youth leadership structures are unique and absolutely vital in ensuring Ireland’s youth information website is guided and directed by the real views of the young people we work to serve.
How can the public support this work?
There are a number of ways members of the public can support the work of SpunOut.ie. In all that we have achieved so far, SpunOut.ie has been indebted to the hard work of numerous volunteers who have written opinion pieces, acted as validators and proofreaders, created videos, answered our flash polls on pressing issues, engaged with us online and of course involved themselves in our governance structures. Any person aged between 16 and 25 living in Ireland can get involved as a volunteer with SpunOut.ie simply by getting in touch through the spunout.ie/about/getinvolved hub on our website. We greatly value the work of our volunteers, and recognise their contribution through regular updates on our work and opportunities, a Volunteer of the Month section, and an annual training event for volunteers to develop their skills across a range of areas.
One of the ways in which any person can get involved with helping SpunOut.ie is by fundraising, and we have clear policies and practices in place to facilitate individuals, groups or companies raising funds on behalf of our organisation. Potential fundraisers can and do contact us directly, and can set up a fundraising page on our JustGiving.com page. Anyone is free to donate directly to support the work of SpunOut.ie either online or via text, which is clearly set out at spunout.ie/about/donate-now. Every year we are hugely grateful to the dedicated individuals who take it upon themselves to run marathons, cycle across the country, dye their hair, run raffles or engage in any number of other fundraising events on our behalf.
How is the Organisation transparent and accountable?
SpunOut.ie is proud to be at the forefront of best practice for governance and transparency within the charity sector. Readers and the public can find a clear and comprehensive overview of our governance and finances at spunout.ie/about/our-governance which includes access to both our Impact Report, setting out what we have achieved to date, and our 2018-2020 Strategy Plan which lists our plans and targets for the future. This page also presents our financial information as of our most recent published Annual Report in clear figures and easy-to-understand graphics and includes links to our certifications with all codes and standards our organisations subscribes to and works hard to meet.
SpunOut.ie is fully compliant with the Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charity Organisations in Ireland and has set a voluntary target of Type C level compliance, the highest possible standard which we were happy to formally meet in November 2016. SpunOut.ie is also a triple-locked member of the Charities Institute Ireland, committed to the best practice in transparency, accounting, fundraising and governance. We have signed up to the Guidelines for Charitable Organisations on Fundraising from the Public, and are among the 9% of charities in Ireland preparing our accounts using the Charities Statement of Recommended Practice. Each year we publish figures on Board membership and attendance at meetings by individual Directors, and clearly set out our funders. We publish fully audited Annual Financial Statements available online, and are currently engaged in the National Quality Standards Framework process.