Volunteer Opportunities in Atlanta? There’s an app for that!
It’s a Saturday afternoon in Atlanta, and you want to do something meaningful. Luckily, United Way of Greater Atlanta joined forces with the region’s leading app developer, Dragon Army, to create mobile software that essentially puts volunteerism in your pocket. What it does is match Atlantans with their volunteering passions. Through the VolunHere app, you simply click “Get Involved” and up pops information on any volunteer activity you can imagine.
Have a passion for art and want to help homeless veterans? Turns out United Way of Greater Atlanta aims to collect 1,000 pieces of art for former homeless veterans. Volunteer times, directions, and proximity to your home are all listed. Maybe you have enthusiasm for education and have time for after-school tutoring. Well, the John Harland Boys and Girls Club needs you, and you’ll find it listed in the app. Let’s say the weather is gorgeous and you want to be outside. Park Pride has a Monday to Saturday community beautification effort.
As an app connoisseur (okay, snob), I wanted to learn more about how VolunHere came into being and the thinking that led to its creation. At the risk of sounding defeatist, one doesn’t usually equate large non-profits with innovative technology.
United Way is well-known as a direct connection to hundreds of non-profits, and they have a robust, attractive, and well-functioning website. But why an app? So, I asked Liz Ward, Chief Marketing Officer of United Way of Greater Atlanta. Her response? “We realized more and more people are managing their lives from their phones to plan activities to match when, where, and what they want to do. We saw an opportunity to make volunteering easier by giving people a tool to fit volunteering into exactly what they care about and when and where they want to volunteer.”
Building an app is no small feat, some liken it to designing an entire city. If this app were a city, I’d know where to go and what to do. In truth, it’s like the Match.com between two groups of people who really should be dating: volunteers who want to give and the many non-profits and organizations in our area who desperately need their help.
Having a good concept for an app and seeing that concept turn into reality are two very different beasts. Enter, Dragon Army, a web, mobile, and innovation company located on the Atlanta BeltLine – and a team of folks committed to solving business challenges with technology. I reached out to my friend, Jenn Leahy, Senior Vice President at Dragon Army, to learn more about the collaboration. The folks at Dragon Army spent just about as much time defining the problem and understanding the issues as they did designing the app.
Dragon Army understood that for this app to be successful, “We really had to develop something that served up just the right content for each individual user. We didn’t want the user to have to search long and hard. And we wanted to encourage users to participate in events in their local communities, so location-based technology was very important.”
In reality, the app is about more than just volunteer activities. There’s a dashboard where you can compare the needs in your community with the national average. For example, when I click on my county (DeKalb), I get a statistical snapshot of our community’s “Child Well Being” index. I can choose to donate money or volunteer my time to help change those stats.
The possibilities for VolunHere are huge when you consider the fact that, 24% of adults living in the greater Atlanta region already volunteer. Now the app will make it easier for even more civic-minded souls to connect with the causes they care about. And Atlanta is just the beginning…