How Content Design Will Convert The “Army of Volunteers”


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Jack Perschke, Partner at Netcompany, believes app and content design is essential to capturing the audience’s capacity for kindness and converting it into a base of committed and willing volunteers.

At the start of the UK lockdown, the UK government called on 250,000 volunteers to come forward and support people with coronavirus in their communities. Within days, more than 750,000 people signed up to become an NHS Volunteer Responder, through the GoodSAM app.

The response really captured the UK’s capacity for kindness and an urge in us to help, however we can, through difficult times. The initiative also served to highlight how volunteer apps are an easy way to lend a helping hand, in a socially distant way. And, as we adjust to the rest of 2020 and continue to look beyond COVID, we ask, how can the voluntary sector ensure that people remain interested and engaged in helping those in need. ?

Charities have tentatively used apps to recruit and manage volunteers in recent years, with varying levels of success.

In order to ensure continued adoption of voluntary apps, we as developers need to identify more creative ways to meet the needs of the community. We need to make signing up to volunteer as easy as getting an Uber or ordering takeout.

It is essential to consider the decision-making process of potential volunteers and how this can be supported by better-designed content.

The sweeping effect

Horizontal swiping has become a common interaction technique on smartphones. A dating app, Tinder, while not free from flaws, is often cited as an example of good UX and gamification. Its ‘swipe right’ mentality has been adopted in several app developments in recent years because it is simple, intuitive, visually appealing, and is familiar to a wide range of demographics.

We worked on an app to recruit volunteers aged 16 to 17, and swipe interaction was quickly identified as a key feature, for all of the reasons listed above.

The app also aims not only to connect new and existing volunteers to opportunities of interest, it creates a journal of all the work they do. It highlights the steps taken by the volunteer, such as the number of hours completed, in order to encourage them to continue their volunteer journey. It offers a scoring system – bronze = 20 years of volunteering, silver = 30 hours, etc., which helps maintain user engagement and might encourage healthy competition as well.

All of these steps help speed up the process of matching volunteers to relevant opportunities and getting them on the ground as soon as possible. Which, of course, is the ultimate goal.

Data security

We have seen the rollout of the NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app hit a number of hurdles in recent weeks, as data security concerns continue to overshadow the technology’s benefits for fight against the spread of the virus. Trust is the key to user adoption, especially when we rely on the goodwill of volunteers to accomplish a vital task.

Applications should fully and seamlessly integrate with a volunteering organization’s CRM systems in a closed-loop ecosystem, ensuring the security of a volunteer’s information, avoiding data duplication, and complying with GDPR regulations.

The pandemic has brought to light a large part of the general public who have the capacity and the capacity to care. In order to keep these people engaged and eager to continue offering their services and their time, we need to make technology available to them in a transparent, intuitive and secure manner.

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Jenny T. Curlee

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