Written by Banu Raghuraman
The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Endeavour.
In line with the New Year, we wanted to talk about what is trending in the not-for-profit community. Microvolunteering has caught on famously, and Koodo’s Koodonation came to mind. We connected with Kate Robb, Marketing Manager, who is currently managing the initiative at Koodo.
Kate is the Manager of Marketing Communications at Koodo Mobile where she is responsible for Koodonation: an online micro- volunteering community that gives Canadians the opportunity to help Canadian not-for-profit organizations, directly from their computers. Koodonation gives non-profit organizations a platform to challenging online volunteers to provide a variety of services from their homes, including website review, design, blogging, copywriting and market research.
Kate is a graduate of the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario with an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University.
1. How did Koodo connect with the concept of microvolunteering?
Koodonation was the result of a strategy session between Koodo and Strategic Objectives: a PR agency with expertise in community investment.
Koodo wanted a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy that not only gave back to Canadians but also engaged our Koodo customers who were primarily Gen Y. We wanted to know the reasons why our customers wanted to give back to their communities and how they liked to do it. The answer was volunteering.
We began by looking at some facts about how Canadians give back. Forty percent of Canadians in the 18-25 age group volunteer on a regular basis and approximately 93% engage in some sort of volunteering activity annually. Similarly, three million Canadian youth annually donated an average of $293.
The challenge Gen Y Canadians have with volunteering is the time commitment. Many of our customers cannot commit to a regularly scheduled volunteering opportunity. We wanted to introduce a way for Canadians to volunteer and use their skills from the comfort of their own home at any time of day.
2. How did you setup the tools for microvolunteering?
We contacted Sparked: a microvolunteering platform in the USA who agreed to create a platform for Koodonation to enable microvolunteering in Canada.
3. Any challenges in the initial setup?
How do we grow it organically – was one of the first questions.
The other challenge was ensuring that Koodonation was seen as a platform for social good, not another marketing mechanism for Koodo to sell mobile phones. We do not advertise or reference any of Koodo’s products or services on our microvolunteering site.
4. Why microvolunteering?
Microvolunteering resonates in two ways – it finds resources for not-for-profits, when they don’t have access to them. And it allows volunteers with time challenges to give back to the community.
It is also a two-way advantage – if the not-for-profit is not comfortable with the volunteer’s work, they can look for other options and if the volunteer finds out that this is not their cup of tea, they have no commitment to continue further. It is a win-win situation.
One of the best things I like to tell about microvolunteering is the amount of awareness it raises for these charities. With small projects, volunteers get a sneak preview of what the charity is about and then if they like it, they contact them outside of Koodonation.
For example, the husband of a Koodo employee wanted to start his own business, but for obvious reasons couldn’t use contacts from his current employment. He started off with a project on Koodonation and did such a great job that they connected with him even after the project ended and he was able to build off a fresh client base through that initiative.
Another great story is that of a physically challenged student from University of Waterloo, who found microvolunteering to be a great use of his talent and intent to give back to the community.
Recently, we were at a TED event and it was amazing how much people want to give back to the community, but were holding back in some way because of commitment, location or time issues. Microvolunteering tackles all those challenges.
5. Do you have any statistics to share with respect to how microvolunteering has grown? Or on what you have been able to give back to the community?
We have been in the market for about 2 years now – relatively new.
We saw our base double in the first year and we saw 70% growth in the second.
We have 11,000 Koodonation users to date, with approximately 700 completed challenges, which were answered by multiple people.
Depending on our marketing initiatives, we have active participants ranging from 50 to 500 users.
6. What kind of growth do you expect for microvolunteering?
We do invest in a bit of media – online and Facebook ads. We have some targeted advertising based on the user’s Facebook profile.
However, word-of-mouth is out biggest success. People have a great experience with this initiative and they pass the message along to more. We will continue to grow organically and expect between 70 to100% growth every year.
Stay tuned for the second part of Kate’s interview on our website.