During the past week we’ve talked to a few people, besides Colin, who were involved with our main user group, volunteers, in various ways about the idea of time credits and got some valuable feedback on the idea.
The first was Prof Sun Teck, who pitched his idea about reaching out to ‘at risk’ users on social media. In the end both our groups’ and his idea had different objectives, but he was willing to give us contacts to people who managed volunteers that he knew, and suggested people who were doing CIP as they may want other incentive. His group also questioned whether the time credits would de-value volunteer work, the idea that extrinsic motivation would crowd out the intrinsic motivation of the satisfaction and relationships formed through volunteering work.
We also contacted Mr Moh Hon Meng, founder of hoodchampions.sg, whose blockpooling.sg was similar to our initial idea. Being on the board for the children cancer foundation, his insights were quite useful too, and he also offered to link us up with some of the volunteer managers he knew to help us test the app. From our conversation, his opinion of the nature of volunteering was that for younger volunteers it was more on an ad-hoc basis, and VWOs (Voluntary Welfare Organisations) were trying to adapt to cater to more ‘on demand’ volunteering, in contrast to long term commitments from older volunteers, and that the whole process of verification of hours volunteered was manual, tedious and a problem worth looking into as we could add real value, in terms of saving costs and increasing the volunteer pool for VWOs.
Also, he cautioned against doing material rewards as he felt that for volunteers the rewards were less material, and more psychological - from his experience the interaction with children, appreciation from the VWOs, also of the general trend of employers hiring based on more than grades, but also looking at things like social consciousness. Some ideas for additional rewards for VWOs, in addition to number of volunteers and exposure, from our discussion also were to improve the interaction with volunteers, like leaving messages or positive testimonials for each other.
Lastly, Xu Jie also contacted some of the social oriented clubs and societies in NUS, as they could be our potential users as well. Some feedback we got were that, it would be useful for VWOs although the current idea requires employers to verify the hours on our platform, also that time credits could take away the spirit of volunteerism, and tasks for helping out in your own community would be helpful.
From the above feedback we concluded that rewards may not be desirable, in a way it lightens our load as Colin was afraid that the marketing effort would be too much as we had to go and pitch to merchants also and the rewards that we would get may not be that attractive.
Still, I believe that building the prototype and getting the end-user feedback would be more important, and to see what they do instead of what they say aka the first rule of usability. Starting usability testing asap would be useful to iron out our features, and tailor it to the problems that volunteers and VWOs would face.