Volunteer centres and welfare organisations are sometimes reluctant to use an online job bank. They wonder whether the customisation they provide for their volunteers would be lost in the process. Fortunately, one does not have to exclude the other and automation can actually reinforce customisation.
It is one of the most frequently asked questions we get at Deedmob: 'Great, such a computerised job board, but can I still personally support our volunteers?
We understand that question very well. In a world where more and more algorithms are used to bring people in contact with each other (just think of Facebook), it is not crazy to argue that personal interactions are very important. Not only for the well-being of people, but also for the success of a project or organisation.
We built a direct matching system for organisations and volunteers. Organisations can place their vacancies or one-off activities on our platform, interested volunteers can register for them and, if so desired, are immediately told where and when they can be expected. In this case, no intermediary is needed. Everything happens automatically.
If, as an organisation, you find it undesirable to work without an intermediary - because a coordinator is essential to the success of the welfare work or volunteer project - you can simply retain that role.
There are many organisations that work with vulnerable groups. There are projects in which the volunteers are seniors or people on welfare. And sometimes it is children, people with a mental disability or newcomers to the Netherlands who are helped. To recruit volunteers from vulnerable groups and to ensure the safety of participants in a project, the role of a coordinator is very important. We understand that conducting face-to-face interviews with volunteers and perhaps even home visits by such a coordinator are tasks that such organisations do not want to give up.
And they don't have to. Working with an online job board can generate a lot of new volunteers, without the screening or personal guidance of volunteers suffering as a result. An automatic system can be used with or without a coordinator. It is up to the organisation itself to make the right choice.
So what is the advantage of a direct match system for volunteer centres or welfare organisations that regularly work with a vulnerable target group? It may sound strange, but an automated job board like this actually gives them more time for supporting people.
"By using our platform, coordinators do not have to worry about volunteers who can work independently. They find their way in the online job board. The time saved by coordinators can be used to support people with a backpack", says Louise, partnership manager at Deedmob. "This way, an online job board supports the tasks of coordinators. Our platform offers all kinds of time-saving options: think of an easy overview of volunteer data (according to the rules of the AVG), analysis tools for annual reports and a clear overview of open and expired vacancies."
A prerequisite is that an online job board works so intuitively that independent volunteers can use it easily. "Many websites of volunteer centres and welfare organisations are outdated. There are many pages with a lot of information and you often have to press a lot of different buttons to get somewhere," says Louise. "Our focus at the moment is really on making the platform user-friendly. As a result, coordinators receive fewer e-mails and phone calls from volunteers about things that are unclear on the site. And it brings in more volunteers."
So a well-designed job board has clear benefits for both volunteers and organisations. Both parties get in touch with each other easier and faster. And outside the platform, there is room to properly supervise vulnerable volunteers. In other words: coordinators can focus on the people who need it.
"Deedmob has thought very carefully about the product design. We had hundreds of discussions with coordinators to determine which components and features they need in an online job board," says Louise. Contrary to what the name suggests, an automated system can also be very flexible. Every volunteer centre or welfare organisation can have its own design in which certain components are added, moved or left out. Everything to make it as easy as possible for coordinators and volunteers.
As a partnership manager Louise has a few more tips for charities and volunteer centres to use the automated job board as effectively as possible (and therefore have more time for customisation):
Keep an eye on your inbox and administrator dashboard.
"Here you will find an overview of all applications and messages from volunteers. So you can choose a fixed time of day to view and respond to the overview as well as the messages."
"In many cases, volunteers can still see expired vacancies, but can no longer respond to them. This is not only untidy but sometimes frustrates volunteers. Within our system charities receive a message two months after creating a vacancy: if you want to keep the vacancy you have to renew it within seven days, otherwise it will expire. Of course, the organisation can easily reactivate an expired vacancy."
Keep track of who has and has not been to an activity.
"It is annoying if you count on a certain number of volunteers, but people do not show up. You can easily indicate in our system who of the registered volunteers did or did not attend. That way, when the next activity comes up, you know better where you stand."