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Sea cadets

Saving thousands of volunteer hours while improving data security

Sea Cadets wanted parents to be able to sign their children up to become a cadet in the comfort of their home rather than having to fill in page after page of questions with a volunteer. Concerned that they would lose valuable cash donations, we implemented a completely bespoke system that has not only allowed them to accept online applications, but has also allowed parents to donate at the time of signing up and declare gift aid, as well as create a custom accounts report that the finance team can use to track all donations.

The application process had been for many years 100% paper based with all questions and supporting documents being filled in, held and stored manually. The process was long and tedious meaning for every child being signed up a separate form had to be completed at the Sea Cadets unit site in the presence of the Unit Commander. Sea Cadets approached us asking to replicate the many pages of application questions online. We suggested designing a user friendly form that breaks up the questions into easily manageable chunks, and hiding all other chunks so the user isn't overwhelmed by the number of questions.

Pages of questions, made easy and attractive

Our design team set off to come up with an accordion style form that expands and collapses so that a user only sees the questions pertaining to a specific section. The application form was broken down into 7 sections. By numbering each section the parent never had to wonder how far through the process they were, potentially losing patience and giving up.

Sea cadets signup tablet page

Massive complexity, hidden behind the scenes

All successful applications are stored in the national charity's database which is extremely secure with multiple security measures in place. All data is transferred via a bespoke API which has extremely strict protocols requiring us to validate all data fields (where a user enters information) to ensure it is formatted correctly. This includes detecting erroneous characters, such as letters in telephone numbers and invalid email formats. These checks all happen in real time, as the user completes the form. Users are presented with appropriate error messages if they haven't completed any part of the form correctly.

Each application received must be approved by the relevant unit. The application won't be sent to the database until it is approved by the unit officer. They are emailed with the ability to accept or decline the application. Once accepted the entire application is transmitted to the database.

Sea cadets how many people have taken action

Take a break, every thing you've done has been saved

With such a large amount of information required, it is inevitable that something will go wrong; internet outage, phone battery dies, the user has to pop out. In these situations, it doesn't matter, the form automatically saves the data already entered for a short period of time so that it can be continued where they left off. Sea Cadets were concerned that parents would not continue an application if something caused them to be required to re-enter information they'd already spent time entering.

Sea cadets mobile page

7000 volunteer hours a year saved

“Aside from the printing cost, we've been able to save valuable time in getting parents to join Sea Cadets from their home, rather than coming to the unit and going through the form with volunteers at our 400 locations across the UK. With 7,000 children joining us each year we estimate we've saved around 7,000 volunteer hours which can now be put towards delivering the Sea Cadets experience.”

Ed Meens - Communications Manager

7000 volunteer hours saved each year

By digitalising we've been also able to ensure the highest standards of data safety and working with morphsites we've been able to add clever parameters on the inputting of data so over time we've been able to clean up our database and form a database we're able to rely on. - Ed Meens

Sea cadets

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