A protocol for volunteering opportunities?

by Anil Makhijani on July 10, 2008

A few members of the Web4Roots meetup group and I met up last night to talk about volunteering websites on the web (such as volunteermatch.org, idealist.org,etc).  One problem that jumped out at us was that all of the sites have their own ways of gathering and displaying information about volunteers and volunteer opportunities.  Because of the lack of consistency, it is almost impossible for these sites to interact with each other and share resources.  We tried to imagine a protocol for sharing such information.

We started at a high level.  There are volunteers (or more generally resources) that have the ability to fill needs and volunteering opportunities (more generally projects) that have needs:

In general, there has to be a good match between the services that the resources can provide and the needs of the project.  We all decided, however, that this wasn’t enough.  There had to be an agreement between the goals/mission/purpose of the organization and the values/motivation of the resource.  For example, even though I have web development expertise and the McCain campaign is looking for a web developer, I may not want to volunteer for this position due to my political beliefs.  This thought process led to the following diagram:

So how might the above diagrams play out for a specific example (say cleaning up a park in the neighborhood):

Note: This isn’t meant to be XML, its just notes from the meeting.


<project>
      <needs>
        <need>
            <type>organizer</type>
            <quantity>1</quantity>
            <location>x,y,z</location>
            <datetime>March 11, 2008 2-5pm</datetime>
            <extras>
                <mandatory>
                    False
                </mandatory>
            </extras>
        </need>
        <need>
            <type>physical labor</type>
            <quantity>10</quantity>
            <location>x,y,z</location>
            <datetime>March 11, 2008 2-5pm</datetime>
            <extras>
                <mandatory>
                    True
                </mandatory>
            </extras>
        </need>
        <need>
            <type>Rake</type>
            <quantity>11</quantity>
            <location>x,y,z</location>
            <datetime>March 10, 2008 by 6pm</datetime>
            <extras>
                <mandatory>
                    True
                </mandatory>
            </extras>
        </need>
        <need>
            <type>Trash bags</type>
            <quantity>100</quantity>
            <location>x,y,z</location>
            <datetime>March 10, 2008 by 6pm</datetime>
            <extras>
                <mandatory>
                    True
                </mandatory>
            </extras>
        </need>
    </needs>
</project>

We actually never got to drawing out specifics for anything other than project needs.  Anyway, this was a short summary of the meeting.  We plan to have regular meetings on this topic, so I be sure to blog about any progress.

1 Comment »

  1. [...] our first hack at this problem, we tried to treat volunteers and organizations as completely different entities.  This time our [...]

    Pingback by Law 2.0 » A protocol for volunteering opportunities? Part II — August 27, 2008 @ 4:15 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment