What about a volunteer rewards card?

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I’ve been pondering over the challenge of incentivising a greater proportion and diversity of people volunteering in New Zealand and was reading a story about how the design agency IDEO came up with a tagging system to help Oxfam manage the donations they get into their stores in the UK. They asked regular donors to register and they gave them a bunch of tags which they then attached to their donated items when they dropped them off. Results: less hassle for donors, no waiting to drop things off, and Oxfam have a register of their donors and know what they donated.

What about a volunteer rewards card in New Zealand, more specifically, what about Canterbury? There are lots of people who are willing to help out, and there are lots of projects that could do with a hand. one of the challenges is matching these projects and people. another is encouraging those people who might want to help, by making it easier for them, and giving them the chance to earn a little reward back too.

How about this: people pre-register, and are issued with a rewards card with number and barcode. They register their skills and what they can help with. Project leaders register their needs and the database can be designed to match the two. As an incentive, rewards can be offered per unit of time volunteered successfully on a project. This could be funded either through philanthropic organizations / private sector contribution / or NGO / govt – the right mix can be sorted out.

As a side benefit, students can give permission for their project volunteer record to be released to their school or university as a positive additions to their transcript, documenting their civic activities. Same for people of working age or above. Training they receive (or give) can be documented too. It may end up being a pretty good differentiator in a crowded jobs market (in certain sectors). Even better, this could be a demonstration project for the rest of NZ to roll out over the next 5 years.

Just a germ of an idea, but might be worth kicking around. What do you think?

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