From a remote skills-based volunteerism platform, to an ‘O2O2O’ model of giving, NVPC’s Gloria Arlini shares takeaways from the 15th IAVE Asia-Pacific Regional Volunteer Conference 2017.

Held in November, the 15th IAVE Asia-Pacific Regional Volunteer Conference 2017 saw leaders in the region’s volunteering space come together in Kuala Lumpur.

On the agenda: Exploring trends and innovations in the volunteering sector strengthens collaborations and trading best practices. We were proud that NVPC’s very own Gloria Arlini, who leads our Futures of Giving project, was invited to present at the conference! We chat with Gloria on her experience, and cool ideas she encountered at IAVE.

The Big Idea I Shared at IAVE…

The concept of “O2O2O” giving (offline-to-online, online-to-offline)! Yes, I realise that’s a mouthful! O2O is a common phrase originating from the e-commerce world that describes going from offline to online. One obvious example is retailers moving into e-commerce. When applied to the giving sector, it can refer to non-profits going online to make giving more convenient such as coordinating platforms to solicit online donations and accepting donations via digital payment gateways – literally, giving donors ‘fingertip empowerment’.

With O2O, we tend to assume the trend is uni-directional and everyone is moving toward online these days. But in reality, we see the flow being bidirectional with non-profits also using online tools to improve traditional offline activities – hence O2O2O (online going offline). An example is Hour Village, a marketplace for people to find and offer volunteer opportunities in return for time credit. The platform facilitates searching and matching by allowing people to filter based on location and interest. Another way O2O2O works is the use of data to better understand volunteer profiles, predict their interest based on their behavioural patterns and engaging volunteers effectively in real life.

Why This Idea Matters

There are concerns that we will lose the human touch in giving if we go completely online. But if we think about it in terms of O2O2O, the conversation is more positive. It shifts to how online intelligence can strengthen offline methods, instead of killing them off. Because the fact is, offline giving won’t go away. A lot of volunteerism still continues to be done face-to-face. People still want to meet beneficiaries. 62% of people in Singapore prefer to engage the community to understand the cause before volunteering or donating to them (NVPC – Toluna Survey, 2016)

They still want to see a difference on the ground. Technology can support those goals. In the O2O2O model, giving is a seamless flow between the offline and online worlds. At the centre of it all, is the human experience and that does not change.

One Cool Concept I Encountered At IAVE…

A platform that offers remote skills-based volunteerism. Say you live in Malaysia, but want to support an animal welfare group in Melbourne. You decide to volunteer remotely as their copywriter. That’s the idea behind Vollie, an online marketplace that connects volunteers with skills-based volunteer opportunities. The interesting thing about remote volunteerism is that you contribute at your own time. It also means that though Vollie started in Australia, anyone in the world can potentially use their platform to find an opportunity.

Businesses, too, can use it to further CSR programmes by allowing employees to volunteer on their own time. Vollie tracks volunteering efforts enabling CSR managers to better report the impact of programmes.

One Potential DIY Tool For Businesses…

I was intrigued by Involve.Me, a DIY diagnostic tool developed by Volunteering New Zealand for volunteer programmes. Think of it as a dipstick to assess the strengths and gaps of your organisation’s volunteer programme. The online quiz can be done in under 5 minutes and you get a customised report which can be a useful thought-starter. Companies could think about adapting its ideas to their own CSR or employee volunteer programme.

Something I’m Still Mulling Over …

We usually speak of using languages of inspiration, empathy and positivity; What could be the new language of volunteerism? Will showcasing a different side of volunteerism appeal more to millennials? Could music, fashion and photography be the new tools of volunteerism?

The 15th IAVE Asia-Pacific Regional Volunteer Conference 2017 was organized by Yayasan Salam Malaysia and the International Association for Volunteer Effort.