Building a better Philippines takes a collective effort and not just a one-man team. But volunteering towards nation building takes a whole lot of education and understanding before one can truly grasp the whole concept of volunteerism and create a sustainable impact. Often, there are also mismatches for demand for volunteers and availability of volunteers.
These are the pain points shared by JB Tan and Bel Padlan, the people behind iVolunteer, one of the five startups which won the Globe Future Makers social innovation competition participated in by 135 individuals and groups. Tan noted the difficulties in finding volunteering opportunities even during the onslaught of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 which opened up the floodgates for more volunteers. People want to volunteer but they didn’t know how and where to go.
This situation prompted Tan and Padlan to come up with iVolunteer where they partnered with many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to help develop volunteer engagement facilities, make a sustainable impact on the community and create a holistic program for the beneficiaries. iVolunteer also helps volunteers find opportunities as well as encourages people to sign up as volunteers. IVolunteer is not just a website but a venue for education on how to become a volunteer.
“There was really a mismatch when it comes to demand for volunteers and the available volunteers. But there are problems every day that necessitates the need for volunteers, so why don’t people volunteer every day? With our website, we want people to become conscious first and educated enough on how to become a volunteer, and to realize that everyone regardless of status in life can be a volunteer,” shared Tan. “Volunteers are your so-called every day heroes, often unheralded, always in the background, never mentioned often, but are the ones most adamant in helping build a nation.”
With their vision about volunteering and leveraging technology in furthering their cause, Tan said the benefits they received from winning the Globe Future Makers Program could help them reach out to more people.
“With access to Globe, we have a big marketing channel through SMS, Data or Internet to promote volunteerism. Technology can really help us elevate the level of understanding and professionalism among volunteers, remind them that they signed up for this to show their commitment, and probably institute a rewards system, though we should be careful about this. We want to delight them as well but be cautious against making it a livelihood. So that’s about using technology, facilitate volunteerism and provide Volunteer Delight.”
Chelle Gray, Globe Citizenship Director said: “Globe always espouses volunteerism even among its employees so this is something dear to our hearts. Hopefully, through Globe Future Makers, we can help iVolunteer further their cause and encourage more people to participate in this worthy undertaking.”
The Globe Future Makers program which Globe introduced early this year seeks to influence and build a whole ecosystem of social innovators with the help of technology. Globe teamed up with Ashoka, the world’s largest professional network of social innovators as well as venture capital firm Kickstart Ventures to give the winning teams an opportunity to receive coaching and mentorship from some of the best social innovators around the world as well as meet possible investors.
At present, 100-percent volunteers run iVolunteer, and no one receives payment. The organization has more 200 partners inside and outside of Metro Manila and is still looking at expandings its operations to Cebu, Davao and other regions.
Volunteer work which people may sign up with include tutorials particularly for out-of-school youth, soup kitchens, tree planting, relief operations, medical missions, among others.
Tan said their goal is to grow non-volunteers to become one-time volunteers and eventually transform them to become committed ones. The benefit of volunteerism is really two-fold: immediate output to the community and the intrinsic transformation to the volunteer himself in terms of perspective and maturity. “We want to move people eventually to higher levels of commitment that creates longer term impact; this is what we call ‘volunteer evolution.”