A new volunteering platform experience

June 28, 2022

Tim Wilson, Communiteer

skilled volunteers, volunteering platform

The beginning

Communiteer is about to enter an exciting new age, a new iteration of the Communiteer volunteering platform!

Months in the making, Communiteer has been hard at work towards a project; whose sole focus is to improve the interaction and sense of community between the skilled volunteer and the Not-For-Profit (NFP) that they seek to connect with. Communiteer seeks to use technology and events to advance virtual/skill-based volunteering in the community sector. We are an expert in volunteering and community building, with theory & research backing everything we do. 

Originally, we sought to do this through our previous platform, but we noticed this experience wasn’t the ideal journey we wished to see. Communiteer is getting an overhaul of its platform, a brand new interface and many solutions that will address key issues. This new volunteering platform not only seeks to fix what wasn’t working but also builds upon what was great. To bring what is essentially a new way to facilitate meaningful interactions.

volunteering platform

Why a new volunteering platform? (problems)

Communiteer’s experience in the sector found a foundational problem seen across the entirety of volunteering as a whole. The old volunteering platform was about making it convenient for volunteers to find opportunities. However, we assumed that NFPs knew what they needed to achieve. 

Instead, we need to lean on the experiences and talents of skilled volunteers to bring volunteering to the very start: scoping and breaking down the NFP’s needs.

Its beliefs, passion and common causes drive people to achieve amazing things. The new platform better enables skilled volunteers to connect with the NFP and gives a real sense of connection. With this new platform, you are not another volunteer, you are seen as part of a community.

The new platform brings the cause to the front and centre to engage skilled volunteers to offer their experience and support. Communiteer discovered that rather than the work they perform, volunteers are more likely to be connected with the NFP or organisation that they are working for. The community’s first approach intends to appeal to volunteers’ hearts with the cause they support, rather than connecting first with an opportunity. The skilled volunteer wants a cause and the NFP wants skills. The new volunteering platform helps bridge that gap and facilitates connection & communication.

Solutions

User drop-off rate after sign up

After analysing the activity of users on the old platform, we found that a large number of them dropped off after signing up. We discovered that volunteers when signing up were either confused about what to do next. Or the process frustrated them too much and they gave up. There were reasons for this. On the old platform, there was no tutorial, navigating the platform was deemed confusing, discovering communities were straightforward and there was often duplicate content across the platform.

The new volunteering platform now provides easy-to-use self-navigation with self-directed learning. After signing up the user is now presented with a 3 step (skippable) introduction. The introduction leads a user through the setup of building a profile and how to start scoping with community pages.

Drop off after exploring opportunities

Further exploration of the old platform revealed to us that not only did many users disappear after signing up. But many users did after exploring opportunities.The drop-off occurred because users felt a cold sense of community. It felt inactive and the inconsistent design of pages felt a feeling of confusion. 

A complete rehaul of the explore page changed it from opportunity-focused to community-focused. The new explore communities page now allows users to discover what causes and NFPs they can become a part of. 

The explore communities page seeks to generate a sense of belonging and a thriving online ecosystem. With a new design layout, clear defined community page tabs and chat functions. The ability for users to communicate directly with community page admins allows for better scoping of jobs. This in turn improves relations and clarity with opportunities.

Can’t keep track of work on the volunteering platform

Volunteers can now through the use of the dashboard keep track of all jobs and opportunities. Not only that but log all hours via the My Opportunities page.

The old volunteering platform had no tools available for volunteers to keep track, log and display the work they had done. But now they do. The dashboard tool displays all currently assigned tasks, jobs etc. While the opportunity page provides the means to keep track of all progress made on each task and keeps records of all contributions made.

Furthermore, volunteers will earn badges for all accomplishments from their work as well as feedback from NFPs. Badges will be displayed on the volunteer’s profile while feedback will help build strong social CVs. A strong social CV in the days of the internet and social media is becoming increasingly necessary. It is looked at by volunteer management as well as employers. It not only acts as an extension to empower your résume but also gives a sense of the type of person you are beyond a couple of written pages. 

Acknowledgements

Recognition plays a massive role in whether or not volunteers choose to stick around with any organisation. The action of volunteers who continue to dedicate their time will be shown in the form of badges and achievements. Proudly displaying past projects, the number of hours worked and not-for-profit testimonials.

Similar to how video games have achievements when a player does something significant, NFPs will be able to visit a volunteer’s page and see not only the skills they possess but how they have interacted with NFPs, their responsiveness, level of expertise and other past positive feedback.

These acknowledgments motivate volunteers to keep contributing to social good, keeping them on the volunteering platform and it helps to support all of the above benefits.

What this means

Communiteer has given its all to bring the new volunteering platform to life and we are beyond words at the excitement we have for its unveiling. For us, this means a new beginning here at Communiteer. But for skilled volunteers, it marks a huge step forward for large-scale volunteering.

What our new volunteering platform represents is not change but connection. The connections that will be made, the recovery of the volunteering pool post-COVID and accelerating impact for a more equitable, humane and prosperous society.

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