The first Women’s Institute (WI) meeting in the UK was held in Anglesey in 1915 to revitalise rural communities, and to encourage and educate women to become more involved in producing food. Since its humble beginning, the organisation has grown to become the largest women’s voluntary membership organisation in the UK, and comprises of 69 federations that oversees 6600 WIs with a total membership of approximately 212,000 women – and counting. Across England, Wales and the Islands, the WI provides a place for women to learn and develop skills; take part in huge range of different activities; make new friends; and campaign for issues that affect them and their communities.
Apart from being women, all WI members have a more obvious trait in common; they feel passionately about the organisation and the work they do. WI members take a very active role, both in their communities and in their WIs. The WI relies on volunteers to take leadership roles at every level of the organisation – as such, members are very invested in the running of the WI and how external audiences perceive it. As online engagement grew and developed within the organisation, the NFWI wanted a website where all WIs could update and share their own information, meetings and events, which would form part of the wider organisational site. With 6,600 WIs all potentially feeding in and interacting with the website, this was a large project from the start.