BVSC’s Update goes digital!

BVSC’s Update magazine celebrates a milestone birthday this year – 25 years of ‘all things voluntary and community’ in Birmingham. The anniversary coincides with an exciting development which sees Update switching to this new digital format, Update Online.

Update first hit desks in June 1992 when it was a modest 4-page black-and-white newsletter. The first edition introduced Update as “BVSC’s new monthly newsletter covering policy and development issues for voluntary agencies in Birmingham”. Over the years Update has evolved and developed, enjoying several makeovers that reflected not only the changing face of BVSC but changes in design and communications more generally. The last key transformation came in 2005 when we introduced the 20-page, full colour magazine-style format.

Colour updates

BVSC has an almost complete archive of Updates which make for fascinating reading. Pre-dating digital media, the early editions focused mostly on policy as well being an essential notice board for events and services. The very first edition for example included a lengthy piece explaining key legislation relating to the 1992 Charities Act.

Download Issue 1, June 1992

Update Issue 1

The first edition of Update included a lengthy piece explaining key legislation relating to the 1992 Charities Act

In 1992 there were also several references to the introduction of a UK Lottery (launched two years later to great fanfare by Prime Minister John Major). The strength of opposition to a UK Lottery was very evident in those early editions. Update reported that NCVO and others believed the Lottery would have “a dramatic, even ‘catastrophic’ effect on donations to charities.” Two decades on it is hard to imagine where many not-for-profits would be without it!

Why the switch to digital?

Apart from obvious cost savings – design, print and postage – we feel it’s time to make the most of what modern technology and social media has to offer. And the truth is printed media has its challenges! There are timing issues and copy deadlines to work to, so advance planning is essential, and sharing content presents more issues. Yes, it’s possible to share a link to a pdf version of Update, but there’s an awful lot of clicking and scrolling involved before people get to the page you want them to read.

So Update is taking on a new digital magazine format and called Update Online. In creating the online version we’ve taken many elements of style and content from the printed magazine format that our readers have come to recognise and (hopefully) enjoy, such as the ‘spotlight’ features, ‘practice’ articles and case studies. But Update Online offers many advantages over the print version. For a start, it’s much easier to read on a mobile device, and there is the ability to search for past articles, browse by topic, listen to audio versions (where possible) and occasionally to view additional video content. Here’s a few more advantages:

  • Single articles can be more easily shared, either through links in emails or bulletins, or via social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook
  • Timing is no longer an issue. Your articles can within reason be shared straight away. No more planning around copy deadlines!
  • Detailed statistical analysis, or tracking, will allow us to monitor how you use Update Online and what content is of most interest. We can then produce/source more of what you want to read.
  • You can access Update Online from any mobile device and dip in an out at your convenience.
  • Articles added to Update Online will become part of a permanent resource that can be easily searched by browsing categories or carrying out word searches.

When is the change happening?

Update Online is already available at And thanks to the dedication of our volunteer Brendan, we’re delighted to be able to share a number of archive articles too. Particularly those focussing on good practice, for example, human resource management, communications, leadership and governance. Over time this resource bank will grow!

Continuing your subscription

The June/July edition will be the final edition in print format, so to continue your subscription you will need to sign up and decide how regularly you would like to receive alerts. To subscribe you simply follow these steps:

  1. Enter your email address in the Subscribe box on the Home page at
  2. You will receive a confirmation email from BVSC Update Online. Click on the Manage your subscriptions button and choose when you would like to receive new content alerts: either immediately new content is posted, on a daily basis or once a week.

Alternatively, we will be sharing articles via Twitter and Facebook, as well as in our Weekly e-bulletins which are sent out every Friday. If you don’t currently receive the BVSC e-bulletin you can sign up at

Contributing to Update Online

We’re committed to making Update Online an invaluable resource for the whole of the not-for-profit sector in Birmingham – somewhere you can go to be inspired as well as inspiring others.

So please share your stories with us! Whether you represent a small community group or a larger charity, we know you have a unique story to tell, so please get in touch by emailing If you’re not sure where to start we’ve put together a brief guide to help you get started (turn to Page 8). We suggest you also browse current and archive content for more inspiration.

And finally…

There are a few people who have been involved in the production of Update for many years to whom we would like to extend our sincere thanks. To Ian Cuthbert for his amazing eye for detail and punchy headlines; Alan Lane for the consistent high quality (and timely) printing; and Ann Bett, for being the final link in the chain and ensuring swift and efficient delivery edition after edition. And finally of course thanks to everyone who has contributed articles over the years – please keep your content coming to Update Online!

Update cover

The cover of the final print edition (June/July 2017) features Issue No. 1 from June 1992.

Download the June/July edition bvsc_update_258_V4 (opens as a pdf)

One comment

  • In defence of the trusty pdf, I want to take issue with your “Yes, it’s possible to share a link to a pdf version of Update, but there’s an awful lot of clicking and scrolling involved before people get to the page you want them to read.”

    Not true. You can easily link to a specific page in a pdf using the #page= addition (after the .pdf).


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