The RAF Benevolent Fund: helping more people with national understanding
The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund (the Fund) are an independent charity assisting serving and former RAF personnel and their families. The many services they offer include: providing welfare breaks, grants to help with financial difficulty, mobility in and outside the home, specialist advice on benefits and support with care needs. They came to us needing to gain a better understanding of the national demand for their services in order to allocate resources effectively and predict future requirements.
The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund originally approached us in 2015 wanting to produce hot/cold postcode maps of demand for their services to better predict future requests and understand the groups most in need of their help. The Fund needed several maps to show the locations of their beneficiaries in need and household data from across the UK.
An independent charity with no regular Government funding, they sought the best value solution. Additionally, they only needed to produce this geographic analysis annually, so an in-house GIS solution would have brought complexity and features that were not used, as well as being expensive - especially once you consider the time investment of staff learning how to use a new system.
Our consultation service is in place for just this sort of project. We produced examples and used the Fund's live data for the most accurate representation of the final work. After agreeing the finer details, we produced a batch of maps in a short timescale for their annual analysis.
The following year, the client’s requirements developed further; as well as updating the annual maps, we were asked to create maps coloured by change, year-on-year, including population densities. With this extra knowledge, the Fund could start to look at trends across their beneficiaries database and predict future demand on their services and opportunities to help the RAF Family. Fortunately, once a query has been designed, our consultants can factor in new requirements very quickly, with little additional cost to a client. This meant that we could adapt to the Fund’s new requirements promptly and in a more cost-effective way than if they owned and operated the GIS software themselves – even for multiple analyses!
5 years on, we continue to update these data maps for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, and the cumulative cost remains under what it would have cost to purchase GIS software. This makes for the most efficient solution for the Fund, allowing them to demonstrate value to their board of trustees, and direct more of their resources to their beneficiaries.
As the data and systems have been updated, we’ve made enhancements to improve the analysis for our client. For example, with the introduction of MapVision, we now produce the maps as a set of PNG images as well as interactive web maps which can be explored and analysed further by the Fund. The ability to zoom and pan a web map, and navigate and explore in more detail, has made understanding urban analysis far easier, while the nationwide maps continue to provide the bigger picture. We look forward to continuing to help this important charity to make the biggest positive difference they can.
"We are pleased to work with Beacon Dodsworth as their consultation service has offered great value and provided us with useful insights."
Lauren Cooper, Welfare Projects Administrator
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