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Ride-sharing services like Uber make it convenient to get a ride by quickly matching passengers with nearby drivers. Why is it so hard to match volunteers with non-profits?

The challenge

Non-profits need to clearly tell their stories to attract attention and support. They are continually dealing with staff shortages, limited funds, and tight deadlines.

At the same time there is a large untapped reservoir of skilled volunteers (working professionals, students and retirees) eager to apply their skills to benefit worthy causes. The challenge is that these specialists often don't know who needs help or how they can assist.

Volunteer storytellers
Skill For Good is a collaboration between Esri and Democracy Labs. This pilot program applies innovation, inspired by ride-sharing services, to connect skilled storytelling volunteers with non-profits that need help communicating with their stakeholders. Esri, founded in 1969, is the global leader in Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Its ArcGIS StoryMaps platform enables people to create stories that resonateStoryMaps combine text, photos, and videos with custom maps to create narratives that both inform and inspire.

Advocating for fair access to voting for senior citizens by pointing out the longer distances that low income voters have to travel.

Organizing against a dangerous processing plant in a low income, African-American community in Virginia.

Talent on demand
The geospatial community comprises a vibrant, active networks of analysts, geographers, cartographers, and visual communicators. Skill for Good has the promise of helping foster activism within this community. It can also make a reservoir of talent and commitment available to organizations that don't have the human or financial resources to hire specialized professionals.

"The geospatial community comprises a vast pool of visualization and storytelling talent. Skill for Good aims to tap this reservoir to help thousands of nonprofits tell important stories about vital issues", said Allen Carroll, program manager for ArcGIS StoryMaps.

Matching volunteer talent with non-profit demand

Ridesharing services offer four valuable lessons:
1. The need for speed. The demand for a ride has to be quickly met with an available driver.
2. Focus. Offering just one service (rides) is essential for speedy match-making.
3. Prepare resources in advance. Uber has a large pool of available drivers and knows their location, type of vehicle and location. This allows it to quickly find the closest, available driver to meet a request.
4. Technology driven efficiency. Traditionally cab drivers would search for rides. Ridesharing services use technology to more efficiently use vehicles and drivers.Skill For Good applies these innovations to skilled volunteering. It focuses on just one solution (StoryMaps), builds a talent pool in advance (of professionals with StoryMap skills) and uses technology to quickly match volunteers with nonprofits. A simple interface (powered bySurvey123) makes it easy to both register to volunteer and to request help.
System details
- Esri is helping Democracy Labs create a platform to broadcast the Skill for Good effort, and to collect contact information from interested volunteers and organizations seeking assistance.
- Democracy Labs receives and vets submissions, builds a database of volunteers, and plays matchmaker to connect organizations with the skilled assistance they need.
- Once a match is made, a volunteer and a nonprofit work together to establish objectives, scope, deliverables, and timelines for their collaboration.

Register to volunteer or request Skill For Good storytelling help


Co-Founder, DemLabs

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