/blog/The Neighbourly blog | NeighbourlyRead the Neighbourly blog for our latest news, resources and information about our fundraising, volunteering and surplus programmes.

Neighbourly launches non-food product donations

13 August 2017

We're delighted to announce the expansion of our food surplus scheme to include non-food product donations, with Marks & Spencer on board as the first retailer.

The extension of our award-winning food donation scheme follows research with our food charity partners earlier this year which found that 92% would like to receive non-food donations, with cleaning and laundry products and toiletries the most requested products. We also found that many are in need of kitchen equipment and furniture.

In response to this, we've expanded the platform so that the surplus scheme can now accept a wider range of products from businesses - which is a huge and exciting step forward, not just for us, but for the charities we support, the retailers we work with and the communities in which they operate. The ability to redistribute unwanted but still useful surplus items will contribute to the reduction of raw material consumption, landfill use and CO2 levels.

M&S were the first retailer to sign up to Neighbourly’s food redistribution scheme in 2015 and have been rolling out donations of chilled food including meat, dairy, poultry and prepared meals since May*. They are now asking all their stores to donate any surplus non-food items such as those that may have damaged packaging but are still fit for purpose.

Everyday items M&S will donate include batteries, bags, plant pots, cleaning and laundry products, air fresheners, personal care items and pet food. Louise Nicholls, Head of Responsible Sourcing at M&S told us: “In addition to our regular surplus food donations, the donation of non-food items forms part of our overall Plan A 2025 aim to become a zero-waste business by 2025. Being able to maximise the reuse of non-food products is not only good for our business, but it is also good for the environment and for local communities by enabling them to focus their funds on their core activities.”

Starbucks, who has worked with Neighbourly since 2014 to deliver support to hundreds of local community causes across the UK, will also be using the feature for their new Community Café programme. This will enable not-for-profit cafés to order Starbucks products and collect from their local store. These small charitable spaces, which are often embedded in their local communities, have experienced large falls in income since 2008**. The orderable Starbucks product donations include a range of kitchenware items including condiment shakers and milk steaming pitchers, in addition to food and drink such as espresso coffee and syrups.

To date, the Neighbourly surplus scheme has redistributed over 1,500 tonnes of surplus food – the equivalent of around 1.8 million meals. Over 700 charities have so far joined, and together they provide around 95,000 meals each month to their communities using the donated food. The charities range from homeless shelters, food banks and soup kitchens to community centres, schools, clubs and more.

Non-food items now accepted by the surplus scheme include (but are not limited to) laundry and household items; toiletries; baby care; pet supplies; furniture; electrical items; technology items; kitchenware; clothing and textiles; toys; sports equipment; books; garden items; and painting and DIY equipment.

Get involved

Charities: sign up to Neighbourly and request an alert for the type of products you're interested in within a certain geographical area. Your alert can range from a broad category, such as all household items, to more specific items, like books or pet supplies. If surplus becomes available, you'll receive an alert which you can accept before picking the products up from the local store or warehouse. If you're interested in food donations, get in touch: food@neighbourly.com

Businesses: if your company has surplus food or products, we’d love to talk to you about redistribution. Get in touch: hello@neighbourly.com.

*Doesn't currently include franchise M&S Simply Food stores such as railway and BP stores

** Source: Institute of Public Policy Research

Updates to the Neighbourly noise score

15 December 2016

We’ve recently introduced a new way of calculating the noise scores (a type of activity measure) for all Neighbourly projects. If you have a project, it’s very likely that your noise score will have changed during November, but don’t worry - all the noise generated to date won’t be lost.

What this means

The biggest change is that scores can now go both up and down, with the introduction of degrading to noise scores over time. All this means is that ‘noise’ created for projects in the past will slowly wear off and recent activity will have a bigger impact.

Introduction of campaign noise scores

We’re also introducing a campaign noise score which will show the noise your project has made during a specific campaign – different to your individual project noise score which evolve over the life of the project. All projects will have a starting campaign noise score of 0 which will grow with campaign activity – this can be seen on the project tiles within the campaign page.

If your project score has changed

If your project score dropped when we introduced this in November – it’s most likely that the project has been on the site for a while without much recent activity. Older activity still counts, but with less weighting. Your score can be boosted again with some new posts, followers and social sharing. If your project score has increased – great! That’s because there’s been some recognition for some activities that weren’t in the previous score calculations.

We’ll continue to refine the way we calculate noise and will be adding more activities to the scores in the new year.

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

Neighbourly launches 'Campaigns'

17 October 2016

This week we launched a new campaign feature on Neighbourly which we’re excited to tell you about! Campaigns will be used by Neighbourly companies to manage community programmes and volunteering. Each campaign will have its own dedicated page, describing the initiative and pulling together all the participating projects, their photos, activity and the buzziest social content. 

Let’s have a look at Marks & Spencer’s brand new campaign page for this year’s Charity of the Year programme..

The top section gives a brief introduction to the campaign – in this case, the page is being used as a hub to support the charities that have been chosen by each of their local store teams. This top panel also shows the total amount of funds they hope to raise – through bag packs, bake sales and the like. For other campaigns this might show a target number of volunteer days, or the food surplus being redistributed.


Below this you can read a bit more about the activity. For M&S, their stores are at the heart of their communities, and that’s why they ask every one of their 600+ stores to choose a cause that they’d like to support throughout the year. Last year they raised over £900,000 for local charities and this year they’re aiming even higher.



Next you’ll see a list of all the projects taking part in the campaign. Click on any of these to have a look at what they’re up to, what help they need and how you might be able to support them – this could be anything from following or sharing their page to volunteering, or perhaps making a donation. Have a look at this example from Team Oasis in Liverpool.


The bottom of the campaign page is where you’ll find information about how to get involved – as a charity or a member of the public. On the right, you can share the campaign page to spread the word to your friends and followers!


Also check out M&S's campaign pages for the wonderful Spark Something Good volunteering programme and their Food Surplus scheme which has now redistributed over 445 tonnes of food to charity (that's over half a million meals!)

We’ll let you know through our social feeds when a new campaign is launched, so keep a look out! 

Follow us on Twitter @nbrly or www.facebook.com/nbrlyuk

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

How to create a volunteer event on Neighbourly

11 October 2016

When you set up an event on Neighbourly, volunteers can donate their time with the click of a button and see other volunteers that are also attending. As well as it being easy for those signing up, it’s time-saving for you as confirming attendees and following up afterwards are automated. Set up a volunteer event page, start sharing and watch the recruits roll in!

How do I set up a volunteer event?

Firstly, make sure you're logged in at neighbourly.com. Click on your profile logo, top right and select 'My dashboard' from the drop down. Select the 'Projects' tab, followed by 'Managing' - from there you can select the project that you want to use for your events. If you don't already have a project set up, or would like a new one, just click 'Create a project' - top right.


Once you're on your project page, you’ll see the ‘Volunteering’ tab. Click on that, then select the ‘Create volunteer event’ button on the right hand side.


What information do I need to include?

Fill in all the details about your event, including a description, location, date, time and how many volunteers you need.

Here are five things you might like to include in your description:

1. Give a little background on the charity and event. For example, you might explain what your centre is used for, and what you need help with – perhaps the kitchen needs renovating as it’s not quite fit for purpose, or the garden needs a good tidy up. Or you might discuss how popular your annual open day is, and that you rely on volunteers to make it all possible.

2. Be clear about what activities volunteers will be doing on the day, whether it’s weeding, painting or setting up marquees.

3. Say how your volunteers’ time and efforts will make a difference, whether it’s improving the environment for service users or being able to help even more vulnerable people.

4. Advertise the personal benefits for volunteers as well. If it’s part of a festival, do volunteers get free entry to other shows? If it’s helping to pick the harvest on a farm, might there be some free produce going? Even if neither is the case, mentioning the free tea and coffee never goes amiss, and you can emphasise the opportunity to meet a friendly bunch of like-minded people.

5. Share some practical considerations: suggest what clothing would be appropriate and whether volunteers will need to bring a packed lunch. You should also specify a meeting point and instructions on how to get there.


Where will my event appear?

Your event will show on your project's 'Volunteering' tab and also feature on Neighbourly’s volunteer board (so make sure it has an appealing title)!

Volunteers can use the search function to find events that match their interests and location. To make your event more discover-able, add up to 12 tags that describe the type of activities they will be doing, for example ‘painting’ or ‘gardening’.

How do I get volunteers?

After publishing, get sharing! Cast that net as widely as possible on social media (and beyond) to give yourself the best chance of recruiting volunteers. Click the social icons or copy the page link into an email or other social channel.

Share opportunities regularly on social media and keep followers and volunteers up to date through posts on the news feed.

How do I approve volunteer requests?

You can choose if you want to approve volunteer requests and whether to keep a waiting list if the event gets full.

The system will manage volunteer sign-ups and create an attendee list. If you’ve selected to approve volunteers, you’ll receive an email when someone signs up and you’ll need to pop back to the website to accept them. Once a volunteer place is approved, your volunteer will automatically get an email confirmation.

If a company would like to support your events with staff volunteers, they’ll add your project to their volunteering list. You’ll get an email when this happens and be able to offer a number of spaces to this company at each event.


How do I follow up with volunteers?

Neighbourly follows up on your behalf. Attendees will automatically receive a quick email to thank them for volunteering. After the event, you can go through the volunteer list and click to confirm which people attended, so you have a record.

How many events can I set up?

You can set up as many volunteer events as you wish. Budding volunteers can keep an eye on your upcoming events via your news feed and on the volunteer notice board. A quick way to create additional events within the same project is to use the 'Clone' button.

How do I clone an event?

Click into the event listing that you want to duplicate and press the blue 'Clone this event' button which will appear on the right. If the date of the original event has gone by, select the 'Show me past events' tick box on the right and you will be able to see and click on the old listing. Once the new cloned event has been created you can edit it to include new information and dates.

Need help with your events?

Contact us at hello@neighbourly.com

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.