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Promoting WWOOF

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Jenny-admin
Promoting WWOOF

Hi Everyone.

This is a new Forum topic page where Hosts and WWOOFers can post any ideas on how to spread the word about WWOOF Ireland and WWOOFing.

Former member
history?

Hi
what has been tried so far? I could suggest lots of things already tried, tested and discarded ;)
H

Jenny-admin
Promotions

Hi Hilary

Thanks for posting and I will get one of the promotions committee to contact you and fill you in.

Jenny

Former member
Maybe not the most effective

Maybe not the most effective way to promote WWOOF, but as an English teacher, I use WWOOF as one of several examples of what people could do during a gap year. I let my students research about several volunteer organisations and show them pictures of my WWOOFing trips to Ireland.

Best,
Sarah

Jenny-admin
Everything helps -

Hi Sarah That sounds like a great idea and thank you for spreading the word. Just to remind you that due to a recent policy change WWOOFers can only now subscribe from the date of their 18th birthday.
Jenny

Former member
spreading the word

Volunteering was discussed recently on the Sean O'Rourke morning radio programme. I did'nt get the full programme as I was going out to do 'Meals on Wheels' I know animal shelters and other things were talked about.. I asked my colleagues on the Meals and Wheels if they had heard it. They all had. I asked about WWoofing, one person knew something about it but not much. I think a radio talk for 15minutes or so would be a good idea.

Rod Alston
before wwoofers become an endangered species....

the number of wwoofers seeking hosts seems to have dropped strikingly last couple of years. Do statistics show a decreasing ratio of wwoofers to hosts ? most wwoofers come from outside Ireland - so promotion needs to be focussed abroad. Can wwoofers be recruited to do this ? no point in trying to do it through forum, because almost none look at it....

rod alston

Rod Alston
statistics please

could admin give here some statistics comparing the current year with, say the previous six years, with regard to number of hosts, numbers of wwoofer members; number of posts from wwooferes looking for hosts; and hosts looking for wwoofers etc.##
it might be enlightening

thanks,

Rod Alston

Rob website admin
Stats on front page of website

Hello Rod, You can see the tally of current WWOOFers and hosts on the front page of the website on the bottom right hand side.

You are correct that we are experiencing a gradual decline in WWOOFer numbers at present. The tallies this year of WWOOFer numbers are difficult to assess as it also reflects the decrease of numbers this year since we are no longer allowing WWOOFers from 16 to 18 years old to subscribe as we are now an educational charity. Next year we will have more accurate data as that difference will no longer be a factor.

Host numbers are also falling at the moment, but it is also hard to get an accurate figure as there are seasonal variations.

At present the ratio of WWOOFers to Hosts are around 6:1

We are very conscious of this dip at the moment and we are all doing what we can to turn it around with various initiatives to attract more volunteers such as a new active Facebook page and looking at ways of improving the website to attract more people with better SEO (Search engine optimisation) and looking at the feasibility of including a blog of some kind which search engines like.

Your idea of outreach to other countries is something we are considering and indeed we are working with our partner countries in FoWO (Federation of WWOOF Organisations) to spread the word. We had hosts in France distribute our leaflets in French and English and promote us at various high profile events and we have seen a steady increase of WWOOFers from France ever since. Recruiting WWOOFers to spread the word is a great idea and your suggestions on how we can practically do this would be most welcome.

There are, however, factors way out of our control, such as global politics, economics and uncertainty that are not helping to boost numbers!

Rob
WWOOF Ireland website manager.

Rod Alston
Thanks. I am sure that there

Thanks. I am sure that there is no single answer to reversing decline in wwoofers, and I am certain that I cannot help with suggestions on many of them - I do not use social media.
I think that around 50% of wwoofers are wwoofing because a friend/classmate or similar had done it and had told them about it. Every wwoofer must know thirty or more potential wwoofers, and most wwoofers are probably active in a situation (college, university etc). Those that have had a good or excellent wwoofing experience must be well disposed towards the organisation, and maybe an email from WWOOF saying that you hope they enjoyed their time wwoofing; that wwoof is need of increased membership; and could they help by telling the friends and colleagues, and by posting information about WWOOF Ireland on the websites etc that they think might be useful ... This might be successful - it is very focussed
.
I think quite anumber of wwoofers produce videos - could WWOOF make them better known ? eg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LtMRPYGCVk

thee need is for exposure that will result in action rather than in hundreds of likes....

Perhaps organise something for non-Irish alternative holiday/travel journalists

I can offer more ideas if needed, but I sadly have absolutely no time to help....

sorry,
Rod

Rod Alston
ps

ps - I have a selfish reason for an increase in wwoofers; but there is a more important one - because of the direction that so much in world politics appears to be heading...

rod

Former member
FAO Rod

Hi Rod,
Just taking an opportunity to check if you are receiving emails from WWOOFers. I've contacted you a couple of times about coming to work for you in the Autumn. No problem if you can't/dont want to host us. I'm just curious if our messages are getting through to people or not.

Many thanks,

Lynne and Mike

Rod Alston
thanks; I did receive at

thanks; I did receive at least one email from you Lynne and Mike, and I thought I had replied that I didn't know whether I would still be attempting to run this small-holding in the autumn if I continued not to have any help in the spring/summer. Sorry if you didn't receive that. I'll write separately... rod

Rob website admin
Thanks Rod

Thanks Rod for your suggestions. You're right that the major way at present of promoting WWOOFing in Ireland is by word of mouth to friends etc and we should capitalise on that.

You got me thinking and I have now added a paragraph to the expiry renewal and membership expired emails that WWOOFers receive encouraging WWOOFers to spread the word about how wonderful WWOOFing in Ireland is!

Onward and upwards!

Cheers
Rob
WWOOF Ireland website manager.

roury valley
possibly impractical suggestions

What about making the website more visual by allowing hosts to post more photos of their places and activities, and making the photos available more prominent/larger? Also by forcing hosts to include at least some photos as it improves the look of the whole website? I think blogs are a great idea as is encouraging WWOOFers to tell others. A problem we are hearing of from every single WWOOFer and from people we know who have tried to WWOOF (in other countries) and given up and gone to Workaway, is that so many hosts don't reply that it is discouraging. This gives the entire organisation a bad name and prospective WWOOFers who have heard this may be more inclined to use Workaway where they can see on the profile of the host how likely they are to reply and how quickly.
:)

Rob website admin
Hello Roury valley,

Hello Roury valley,

Thanks for those ideas and we will look at the feasibility of them and see what we can do. The problem we are up against with Workaway etc is that they are a much larger organisation as they are a centrally controlled commercial business, so subsequently their IT budget would far out stretch our own. I'd guess their website budget could easily be several times the total annual income of WWOOF Ireland! Modern website design, development and running costs are very expensive, and whilst we have a very good modern CMS website, it is a constant battle to keep it up to date with the evolving hardware technology using the resources available to us. Workaway and the like can keep their admin costs low by not supplying the level of support you get from WWOOF Ireland with our dedicated team available to help our members.

To take your points in turn:

  • More host photos? We have a maximum of 4 photos hosts can post and if you click the thumbnail photos you will see them open in a larger slideshow format. We could look at including more photos, but we would not wish to alter the style of the profile page to unbalance it with too many photos, though it might be possible to have them uploaded but not all showing (like Facebook do) I will investigate this.
  • You mention some hosts do not have a photo displayed, and I agree with you it detracts from the look of the site and makes it look less professional. We do urge hosts to upload photos, but whether we can force them to do so, is possible or desirable as we instinctively balk at being overly authoritarian. We would also run into technical issues to now make photos a requirement as we already have data associated with those fields.

    We have a difficult balancing act to please all our members as generally WWOOFers tend to be internet savvy and happy with the technology, whereas many hosts are not so internet savvy and have problems with the technology!

  • Hosts not replying to WWOOFers? This is a perinial problem I'm afraid, We contantly urge hosts to reply to WWOOFers emails but we cannot force them to do so! We have looked at different ways of communicating, like a site message board, but decided against it for various reasons; It would be technically problamatic and costly to implement and we know many hosts use the website infrequently, whereas they would check emails fairly regularly.

We will look afresh at this problem and see if we can improve Host - WWOOFer communication (and vice versa) We would welcome suggestions on how we can do this?

Cheers
Rob
WWOOF Ireland Website manager.

roury valley
more suggestions

Thanks for your reply Rob,

OK, I see your point as to the Workaway site! The WWOOf page reflects the organisation and I agree with you about the huge advantage of the support available to WWOOFers and hosts, as opposed to those involved with Workaway and Helpx. From my point of view, as both a previous WWOOfer and a WWOOF host, that support is a big reason (apart from the obvious ethos reasons) to use WWOOF as opposed to any of the other sites. Would it help to highlight this advantage to potential WWOOFers and the media? Because any comparison of the 3 main organisations that I've ever read, didn't even mention this as being in the equation and it's really quite a significant advantage, especially for those traveling alone.

I like your idea to do a facebook style option for more photos, which wouldn't change the layout of the profile but give the option for more photos to be uploaded. I feel it would give prospective WWOOFers a better idea of what a place will be like, and make looking through the profiles more interesting.

As to the issue of hosts not replying; what about putting a line in for hosts to indicate how long it should normally take them to reply and after which time volunteers should look elsewhere. For example after the weekend WWOOFers question, slot in something like: Will reply within: 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks etc., and alert hosts to this change. Just an idea. Alternatively, though I don't know if this is even remotely feasible, another thing that would encourage hosts to reply would be if WWOOFers had the option to leave a rating based on replies on the hosts profile. This would give volunteers an idea as to how likely they are to receive a response, although how many would go back and leave a voluntary rating is probably debatable. I just hear such frustration from every one of our WWOOFers this summer who feel that they could have at least received a "no availability" from the many dozens of hosts they contacted. From what they are saying, there is a roughly 2-3 out of every 15 reply rate.

Not easy keeping everyone happy :) but it seems to be working - WWOOFers appear to really appreciate what they are being offered with the organisation and literally the only quibble they seem to have is the reply rate. And it's a great system and opportunity for the hosts too!

Enjoy the warm weekend to come!

Tracy
The majority of my Wwoofers

The majority of my Wwoofers have been French and I always ask them two questions, why did they decide to go Wwoofing and why did they pick me?

The answer to the first question was almost always "a friend did it and recommended it to me". While this is true another reason is when in third level they are required to do a work placement in the summer and it doesn't have to be in the area they are studying ( we seem to have hosted mainly future engineers). Many choose Wwoofing in Ireland as it covers their work placement requirements, they get to leave France and travel to here is reasonably cheap for them. Also coming into their final year some courses require an English language exam and Wwoofing in Ireland helps practice for this too. So it is a combination of reasons. Contacting the French third level institutions could help, building a relationship with the career development officers so they have names and faces of real people rather than words on a webpage. Of course this doesn't need to be limited to France.

The answer to the second question was your profile, your photos and your feedback. So yes, photos are important. However I also know the answer for this was also that our French Wwoofers did want to live with the family and did want to have all their meals with us and have their own bedroom, total immersion with an Irish family.

Yes, we had other nationalities too, most on extended working holidays travelling through Ireland and Europe, each staying about 4 weeks with us and moving on. For some of these it was being able to have a look at what to expect. Initially I sent details of my Facebook profile so future Wwoofers could "meet the family" before they arrived. However I no longer use Facebook and instead have an Instagram account which potential volunteers can see. I also have connected with a few other Wwoof hosts on Instagram and at times have found this to be a great support. I highly recommend hosts connect with each other in as many ways as possible.

Young people now are so connected all the time so yes, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp groups etc need to be looked at but I appreciate they take time.
I have been asked by a local teacher to give a talk to her transition year students about Wwoof. Now this will probably only benefit Wwoof organisations abroad as I am sure the Irish students will be looking to travel. But we could put together an information pack or simple Powerpoint presentation to give to our departing Wwoofers to see if they can present it back in college to everyone else and spread the word. Many have to do a report on their work anyway so I am sure would be happy to have something prepared they can put to it.
Some of my Wwoofers featured in one of the Newslettters and I am sure this did more to spread the word as they shared the link with all their friends.

I don't currently have the time to help with social networking but if you want me to help with a presentation or slide show I am willing. And with a bit of arm twisting on my behalf I may be able to have it translate it to French

dlmolloy97
Language practice and the Gaeltacht

While this might not be helpful for farms outside the Gaeltacht, I'm wondering if you could promote WWOOFing as a means of learning/keeping up Irish, to attract students from within the country (anyone learning Gaeilge would almost certainly have a high enough level of English to follow day-to-day instructions). I'm planning to do this myself in the near future, and think it might be appealing to people looking for the kind of language-immersive experience that you mention above.

Dj Ryan
Recruiting more Wwoofers

Hi
I have been to Belarus and Russia a number of times, none of the young people have heard about Wwoofing, perhaps we could contact the Belarusian/Russian embassy in regard to this and possibly contact colleges and universities offering placement to their students.

Declan

Drimbawn
Since many wwoofers are

Since many wwoofers are students it probably would make sense to write to colleges. There are many horticultural colleges where students are looking for international placements and/or experiences.
That way at least I've found my first work placement in Ireland.

Dj Ryan
spread the word

I am going to write to the big colleges in Belarus.

Ed Harper
3rd level Societies

It was suggested to me that you could set up societies in the 3rd level institutions around the country. You don't necessarily need to have anyone attending the college to set up a table for Clubs and Societies days on campuses. My friend who helps me long term knows a lot about this and is willing to help or advise on this.

immadorda
about promoting

Hi. I used this system ... in 2014. I am from Catalonia, and when I return I discovered that a lot of young people didn't know it. So, I think that a possibility could be a "campaign" with the universities ... There are a lot of options... in Mataró, Barcelona - Spain, in TECNOCAMPUS university there are a ONG that collaborate with Africa .., but perhaps to contact directly to the Students Associations in Universities in countries around, could be an option.

Good job!