Looking for Skilled Volunteers?

Hello non-profits, NGOs, social purpose organisations, civil society and community groups and ground-up initiatives,

Serve.sg is a volunteer matching platform designed and entirely driven by volunteers.

We have just launched the beta version of serve.sg and will like to invite your group or organisation to register a ‘charity account’ to help you find volunteers. The platform focuses on skilled volunteering opportunities, so you could host projects that require professional skill sets like IT, marketing or organisational development expertise. The platform doesn’t stop you from hosting regular volunteers if you want to, and we do not discourage that either.

We designed the platform so that people can volunteer in groups to learn from one another—perhaps an undergrad might be able to learn on the job from a veteran with deep skills and a wealth of experience. Therefore, you have the option of accepting a volunteer group as a whole for your projects. This is useful for schools where students typically form groups for their service learning or ‘Values in Action’ projects.

As we are slowly recruiting volunteers to get on the platform, we are approaching a small group of non-profits and ground-up initiatives to host some projects. Since there isn’t a critical mass on board yet, you may not be able to find volunteers that readily, but we wanted you to try out the platform and give us feedback so that we can proceed to phase 2 development with your user experience in mind.

In order to reduce the barriers for seeking and receiving voluntary help, this is my current thinking:

  • You don’t need to have one account for each organisation, which might typically administered by a volunteer manager. If this is so, everyone from your non-profit who needs to look for skilled volunteers will have to go through this person.
  • Instead, anyone from the organisation can create a ‘charity account’. For example, as I serve on it, I created the ‘ArtsWok Board’ even though ArtsWok itself has an account. With this, I can start asking for help with governing instruments or inputs on fundraising strategies. Therefore, your HR, marketing or research team can all create their own accounts, and call for skilled volunteers relevant to the work they have. One possibility is to name the account properly so that volunteers know who is asking. E.g. ‘FSC Research Team’, ‘FSC HR’ or ‘FSC Programmes Advisory Board’.
  • The only risk if you decentralise decision-making is that someone asks for volunteers to a project you are not ready to reveal yet. If this is of concern, you can still decide to have tighter control over who in your organisation can ask for volunteers. It seems to me there is little risk otherwise, since the call for volunteers really is ultimately an informal one anyway, and there is little risk in merely requesting for them because they only participate more ‘formally’ with your organisation after you connect and interact with them independently.

Besides the tech platform, we need to collectively create shared norms on how best to run this platform. Therefore, the above is an example of a ‘social’ innovation beyond the tech that can allow us to reduce the friction of connecting to volunteers.

There are also other possible workarounds for features that our platform doesn’t support yet. For example:

  • If you are looking for not just volunteers but donations/sponsorships of other kinds of resources for the specific project, you can merely insert this into the project description.
  • A grant maker will not be able to search for all the projects that are asking for donations, but at least you can publicise it on facebook by posting the project, and maybe some Foundation or company will get wind of it and decide to get in touch with you.

In the future, we want organisations such as schools or companies to have institutional accounts that can track and provide a dashboard view of the volunteering activity of their students or employees. We also want to gamify the platform so that veteran volunteers can level up and have ‘functionality unlocks’ that grant them more access such as pitching projects to non-profits.

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