What is Volunteer Project Scoping?

June 23, 2022

Tim Wilson, Communiteer

volunteer project scoping

Meaning of Volunteer Project Scoping

Scoping is an essential factor in determining whether or not a project gets off the ground or never even starts. Sometimes it is responsible for an entirely different approach to a problem. But what is it exactly? A tool? A buzzword? A step-by-step guide to problem-solving?

Scoping is an opportunity for volunteers to showcase expertise and to learn new possibilities. Its goal is to find the best solutions to anything from simple tasks to large-scale projects.

Volunteer Project Scoping: Importance for Communiteer

So why all the fuss over scoping? Everything starts with a conversation. With the emergence of the new platform, one of the most improved elements was communication. On the old platform, volunteers and Not-For-Profit (NFP) organisations didn’t communicate with each other well enough. This obviously presented a problem with what each side hoped to benefit from the other.

An oversimplification of the old platform; an NFP would post an opportunity on their page tab and the skilled volunteer would accept. There would be little to no communication between the volunteer and NFP. The problem here is that the NFP isn’t the expert in this situation, if they were they wouldn’t be seeking skilled volunteers. NFPs either underestimate the time requirements or resources needed or don’t even know what solutions they need.

Now, NFPs and skilled volunteers have direct communication with one another. By involving the volunteer, NFPs can reap their expertise. Accurately assessing their pain points, resources and time available to deliver the best possible outcome. Not only does this keep everyone on the same page about expectations and progress but opens doors to previously unthought-of ideas & solutions.

Scoping for Dummies: Communiteer edition

In a sentence; volunteer project scoping is balancing work with expectations through discussion. It is managing what someone wants with what can be achieved with the resources available.

So how do we do it on the Communiteer Platform?

It all starts with one click. How it works is the volunteer joins the community, they then can either talk to the community admin or request a volunteer project scoping session. Then the NFP will get a notification, or they can browse through their supporter list and filter to the ones who have already requested a session. They can choose a volunteer, based on their skills and badges and then further establish the connections made with the volunteer.

A volunteer can also go to a premade opportunity and offer to scope it further. An NFP may create an opportunity themselves. Then they are presented with the option to invite their supporters to it. The volunteer would then offer to scope the opportunity further if needed by clicking the button on the project page.

This is where the real volunteer project scoping starts!

The NFP and the volunteer now have direct contact and have the understanding that there is a job that needs discussing. Both parties now start scoping the job, they talk about:

Understanding the project/opportunity

Outline the problem, why the volunteer is here to help and what the NFP’s broader goals are.

Key goals to be achieved 

After an understanding of the project is clear to both parties, identify key achievable goals that can be made with this specific project. The volunteer may even offer a different solution than what the NFP originally thought.

Outline the work

Discuss and write down the actual work to be done within the task section on our platform. This is where the expertise of the volunteer comes into play and they inform the NFP what is achievable, how long it will take and they will need to get it done. Have a clear understanding of what the final finished product or service will be when it comes to the deadline.

Hurdles/obstacles, limitations & restraints

No project isn’t without setbacks. Talk about possible problems, limitations and restraints that may arise during the course of the job and what can be done to avoid or solve these issues.

Final agreement & sign off

In the final stages of volunteer project scoping, here a volunteer can indicate what skills will be needed for each task. Volunteers can also use this time to inform the NFP of additional help they may need and whether the job itself can be broken down into additional projects or roles. From here there is not much left to do other than agree and begin and when necessary, rescope later. 

Finally… 

The conversation never ends at the initial volunteer project scoping session. NFPs and volunteers engaging in skilled volunteering require constant communication. Opportunities are always open to additional scoping, especially when a new volunteer comes along with a fresh take and new eyes.

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