Encouraging Volunteer Participation Through "Microvoluteering"

This project was a team effort as part of Give Camp Austin 2013. Designers and developers were given the opportunity to select from a number of projects presented by non profit organizations in need of information systems. This project caught my eye because I have observed the challenges of utilizing volunteers before and have thought of low commitment micro-volunteering as a solution but have never actually tried to implement it.

Gathering Requirements and Scoping Project

The document to the left was co-developed by the Give Camp coordinators and Jason Taylor, who represented the organization requesting the project. I was paired with developer Shawn Weisfeld. After discussing our respective skill sets, we met with Jason to further develop the idea, then scope the project to what could reasonably be accomplished in a weekend.

Sketching the Data Models

Since we were trying to get as much accomplished as possible in just one weekend, we stayed as lean as we could, dispensing with more permanent deliverables and whiteboarding our data models.

Encouraging Participation

Our goal was to make it more than just a scheduling app, we wanted the app itself to appeal to potential volunteers and increase involvement. One strategy to accomplish this was to use peer groups to encourage participation. The app pulls in friend information from Facebook to let would be participants know which of their friends will be at the event. In our first meeting with Jason we came up with a number of other ways to game-ify the app, including a badge system to give participants credit for participating.

Due to the time and resource constraints of the project we chose to relegate these other ideas to future upgrades of the app. In addition to the initial planning and involvement to create the data models, I wrote the html and css (with the help of Twitter Bootstrap) for the responsive Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities page. Shawn and another developer James Anderson built the back-end on an C# based MVC framework. Simi Damani helped with a vision for a potential 2.0 version of the interface.