Reward Volunteers is the first iPhone and Web app that tracks and reward volunteers and the organizations they serve.
What motivated you to create Reward Volunteers ?
The nonprofit sector lags embarrassingly far behind in providing innovative technological tools to engage and inspire volunteers. We live in a world where people are rewarded for their consumerism but not for being good citizens. If we can be vocal about the things we buy, why aren't we also encouraged to be vocal about the good we are doing in the world, and why shouldn't we get rewarded for it?
How does Reward Volunteers work?
Using Facebook Connect, volunteers log and share volunteer efforts, accruing "Reach" points, or chances to win prizes for themselves and the organizations they serve in our monthly drawings. Volunteer hours and activity post to Facebook and within the app, where volunteers can "like" and comment on each other's activity. The more activity logged and shared with friends, the more chances volunteers and organizations have to win prizes such as cash, luxury vacations, and much more. Volunteer activity is often hard to quantify or is done in isolation. Reward Volunteers makes it measurable, fun, and social.
What is the ultimate goal of your project?
We are trying to increase awareness of the power of civic service and let volunteers know that their good work is not going unnoticed and unrewarded. The 2009 Serve America Act put $5.7 billion toward expanding national community service programs, yet the technology to increase volunteer engagement and inspire new volunteers to service is severely lacking. Nonprofits struggle to engage and retain volunteers (especially youth), costing them an estimated $30 billion, and one out of three volunteers every year. By providing a free, intuitive, and social tool, we hope to make it easier for nonprofits to attract, retain, and recognize volunteers.
How did your experiences at the The New School support this venture?
As a master's student in psychology at the NSSR, I was on the board of directors of the New School Psychology Society, a student-run organization that planned events and brought in speakers to talk to the Psychology student body. Organizing a year-end conference with well-known speakers helped me feel comfortable reaching out to partners and sponsors, investors and mentors, and general business development at the social cause app platform Chalo. Further, my understanding of cognitive behavioral psychology has informed the way I think about motivation for the behaviors our app addresses. My time at Parsons has been invaluable to understanding what good user interface design is all about and making sure it is implemented it in our app.
Where else can people learn about your company?
We had a feature in Mashable and were included in an article on Care2's blog about the rationale behind Reward Volunteers.