Last summer we wrote about how generation Y wants to make a difference in the world. Young, ambitious entrepreneurs spoke about ways to use modern technology for creating social impact. One of them was Boudewijn Wijnands, CEO of Deedmob, an online platform for volunteering. The Deedmob team has been working hard since that time, and they were happy to tell us more about what they are doing.
Volunteering in the 21st century
When you think of volunteering work, you may picture a grey-haired lady sitting behind a desk in an old community center, waiting for someone to sign up for volunteering work in the retirement home. That’s a pity, thinks Tycho Onnasch, Founding Team Member of the volunteering startup Deedmob. So he and his team – all Oxford graduates – decided to create a sophisticated, extensive online platform that connects volunteers and employees with social organizations.
The Deedmob platform
Social organizations and volunteers can use the platform for free. Volunteers can search for suitable volunteering work in their area, by filtering on location, duration of the volunteering, and the type of work. Moreover, they can track their volunteering activities on their personal page, and organizations can leave them a review. For social organizations, the platform offers an overview of their volunteers, and statistical tools such as which volunteer did what at which location, and at which period.
The guys of Deedmob didn’t start small. They developed the platform together with big names, such as The Red Cross, WWF, and UNICEF. Onnasch: “It is fantastic to see how many people in the field appreciate our work, and even want to contribute.” Besides their team of six full time paid staff members, and two interns, Deedmob has over thirty local ambassadors throughout the country: volunteers who are the Deedmob points of contact per region. A few times a year, the team comes together with their advisory board, existing of experienced professionals in several relevant fields.
Doing good is important, but of course, you also need to make a living. That’s why Deedmob is doing business with corporates, who pay Deedmob to use the platform and find matching volunteering work for their staff members. Onnasch: “Since the 1980’s, companies have become more conscious of sustainability and their impact on local communities. Corporates such as Microsoft and Red Bull, both our clients, want to share their expertise with charities. They often have a lot of knowledge that charities are lacking.”
Besides, Deedmob also works together with municipalities. There, the focus is on benefit recipients, people outside the job market who cannot work because of health issues, or not mastering the language. Deedmob not only offers them the platform but actively assists these persons on the way to suitable volunteering work. For them, this could be the first step to a paid job. Onnasch: “That saves the municipality time as well as money, as we ease the road to the job market.”
Innovation in the Social Sector
Deedmob’s enthusiasm is contagious, but did the startup also find difficulties in developing the platform? CEO Boudewijn Wijnands: “We strongly underestimated the reluctance in the social sector to use technology. It takes a lot of time before social organizations are ready to change. The social sector can be very conservative when it comes to innovation and technology.” However, when they finally decide to make the change, the replies to Deedmob are very positive. Wijnands: “All charities that we helped to use technology are now recommending us to other social organizations. We receive many positive reactions, and that is fantastic!”