Thursday, 27 October 2011

Usability review of our Benefit Calculator and Grants Search

Following feedback from our users and the outcomes of an independent usability review, we have revised our Benefits Calculator and the Grants Search database enquiry form.

Benefits Calculator

A review conducted by customer experience experts User Vision examined the behaviour of our intermediary users while using the Turn2us Benefit Calculator to identity possible improvements. These included:

  • a more prominent breadcumb trail to indicate progress through the process
  • dynamic links to information on claiming benefits
  • automated range checking to reduce the accidental inputting of incorrect financial data
  • a simplified system of messaging and alerts.

Grants Search database enquiry form

The Grants Search database enquiry form was reviewed using feedback from charitable funds with the aim of capturing additional relevant information from those making enquiries to increase positive outcomes. Improvements included:

  • a revision of the form’s layout
  • the expansion of the occupation and help required lists
  • additional fields to capture information about savings and the status of carers.

Both projects aimed to improve the customer journey taken by people visiting the Turn2us website. In particular, the help we give users to input the information needed to make accurate assessments of entitlement to means-tested benefits and eligibility for charitable grants.

Those who might doubt the benefit of undertaking usability testing will be interested to know that the amends to our benefits calculator have already resulted in a 5 per cent increase in completion rates.

Benevolent Sector conference

Research into the benevolent sector, commissioned by Elizabeth Finn Care and carried out by nfpSynergy, has revealed the extremely challenging financial time that the benevolent sector is experiencing in the UK's current economic situation

Last week, around 80 delegates attended a major conference to launch the findings of the study. Held in London, this was hosted by Elizabeth Finn Care, the Association of Charitable Organisations, nfpSynergy and the Directory of Social Change, and chaired by Dame Diana Brittan, Chairman of Independent Age.

Spending cuts and changes in Government policies has led to many benevolent sector charities losing statutory income. There has also been a decrease in asset portfolios and subscriptions as a result of the difficult financial situation that the UK is currently experiencing. At the same time, the demand for the services charitable funds provide is growing considerably because factors such as the current economic climate and demographics – e.g. benefits cuts, redundancies, longer life expectancy – are causing more people to need support.

However, financial stress of this kind can also provide pressure for reform, which can lead to positive and exciting developments within the sector.

Participants identified possible solutions to meeting the needs of an increased client group in the context of reduced charity income. These included sharing resources and making joint applications for funding. They also discussed ways to improve the marketing of the benevolent sector to raise public awareness of the work that it does and issues surrounding the requirement, emphasised in the Charities Act 2006, for all charities’ aims to be, demonstrably, for the public benefit.

You can read the Understanding the Benevolent Sector report here (link opens in a new window)