Concept test: Volunteer+ on Google+
(Disclaimer: I do not now, nor have I ever worked for Google or any subsidiary company. This concept test is motivated by my interest in finding new ways for people to collaborate and address the challenges we all face. All responses will be treated confidentially and any information gathered will never be passed to third parties. The image above (originally used for a child and youth financial education and inclusion project) is owned by me and all rights are reserved. Base design of this image was by Redwood Designs, UK - whom I wholeheartedly recommend).
Many volunteering sites are hidden away in dark, dusty corners of the web and finding suitable people through social media often means spending precious time building a following. Why don’t we try rectify that by adding a Volunteer+ button to Google+ and make it easier to find volunteers and discover socially minded projects locally.
How it would work:
Step 1) A project owner puts up a page on G+ about their project.
E.g If I was running a community garden project in Chicago my project page would have details, pictures, contact info etc. Many projects have this already (those that don’t should consider doing it - it is easy, free and a great outreach tool).
Step 2) G+ users specify issues they are interested in, skills they have to offer, time available to volunteer etc on their existing G+ profile.
E.g You live in Chicago, are interested in environmental issues/green spaces/community horticulture, and have 5 hours a week you would like to volunteer.
As a project owner: I can then search for people by location, interest, skills and time available. I see your profile and think ‘Wow, you are perfect to help us!’, so I click the Volunteer+ button on your profile (a bit like the +1 everywhere else on G+) to let you know. You then get a notification (in the same way as for everything else) and can view my project’s page to find out more and to get involved. The Volunteer+ button could also be placed on the project’s website in the same way as the +1 button can now.
As a user: You can search for projects by location, interest/type and skills sought. You see my project and think ‘Oh cool! I want to help with that!’, you are then able to get in touch or click the Volunteer+ button on my project page so I am notified and can contact you about getting involved. The search could also be used to find other people interested in the same issues as you and to discover projects around the world as examples of best practice which could be adapted or built upon if you decide to set something up yourself.
Lets make it happen.
Regardless of whether or not you use G+ right now, would you use this feature?
Is there anything you would like to add or anything you don’t like?
I have already passed the idea to the Google+ community manager who liked it and said she in turn would pass it to the team. But if this is going to happen I need you to comment on the G+ post, share your thoughts below or show your support by clicking the social buttons up top.
This exact idea may not come to anything. Despite the clear benefits to them (data collection/trends, advertising etc) Google may not think it suitable. But if there seems to be an appetite for it, and if Google doesn’t adopt it, I will find another way to make it happen or continue to search for an alternative way to make connecting for good, easier.
By the way, the initial idea occurred to me while thinking about DIY Economy - a new US based organisation and movement which helps people build a new, sustainable economy that works for them, starting in their own neighbourhood. You can find out more about them here or follow them on twitter.