A New Volunteer-built Platform Connecting Kiwis To Experts For Any Service Needed – For Free
Voluntarily is a new Kiwi-built web platform that connects people who need help with those that can provide it voluntarily.
Launching this week, Voluntarily is a concept imagined by Vend founder Vaughan Fergusson and Zoe Timbrell co-founder of the Pam Fergusson Charitable Trust, a charity that for 6 years has focused on enabling children throughout New Zealand to have access to and a passion for technology.
Current events have made it abundantly clear that a website safely connecting people across the country to deliver a service to those who need it was an essential, and very Kiwi response to the situation every New Zealander currently finds themselves in.
The concept had been in planning for a while but as COVID-19 took hold Vaughan and Zoe reached out to New Zealanders asking for help to get the platform accelerated to help through this crucial time. Within days over 100 volunteers from a varied array of fields assembled virtually to create a site, service and develop a business plan to launch the platform by March 25 yet again proving the resilience of New Zealanders and our ‘can do’ approach.
With the support of Datacom, Spark, Westpac, Xero, the Ministry of Education, ATEED and the Innovation Fund, Voluntarily looks to enable Kiwis to find free help, including someone looking for technical support, educational support or simply to help with a chore they are unable to complete.
New Zealanders want to help each other through this time. The Voluntarily platform will enable that to happen.
So what is Voluntarily?
Quite simply, it’s a web platform offering a searchable, targeted set of information where the many people who want to offer their skills and knowledge can be matched to those looking for that help and support. At its heart Voluntarily is about people helping people, launching at this most challenging time.
There are 3 primary audiences for the service: businesses, educators and the general community.
As the country battles COVID-19 it’s already clear that small and medium businesses in particular are feeling the impact of the need to have remote workers or having to reduce their workforce, losing essential skills.
Voluntarily can be used to create a ‘help on a call’ function – where volunteers from our large businesses offer their knowledge and expertise to our small businesses who need the support to set up remote working and cloud functions and give advice on some of the challenges they are facing to
get through this time. HR, accounting and small business advisors can step business owners through topics on funding, health and safety, budgeting and IT.
As the COVID-19 situation changes rapidly, we know schools are facing an unprecedented challenge to teach students differently. A website or online tutorial video are great tools but talking to an expert is the best way to learn. Voluntarily is in a position to support this learning be it from the provision of online courses for teachers to help them create a distance learning plan to giving careers talks online for classes.
Teachers will be able to get support from experts that can guide them and offer expertise across a range of topics and questions. They will also be able to access lesson plans for activities they can teach online.
The platform can also be used to connect corporates who have technology equipment they are willing to donate to schools or community groups that absolutely need them.
Right now there are many people in New Zealand naturally feeling isolated and alone. Many can’t leave their homes and this may soon be the reality for all of us. We want to help Kiwis connect to those around them and unite against Covid19. We may have to be keeping our physical distance, but we can still be united.
The platform will harness the kind nature of New Zealanders enabling those groups of people who are already uniting to help out those most in need and most vulnerable. It will act as a safe and secure engine to power all the community action happening around the country. It might be someone that needs to get help with collecting groceries or a prescription, possibly a chat about how to make a plan to get through this time, or they might want to learn how to code or get a better knowledge of technology. Whatever it is, Voluntarily can help.
We will support partner community groups and NGOs around the country, bringing new volunteers to them, taking away the admin of signing up and coordinating volunteers, and ensuring best practice safety, privacy and security measures are in place keeping our most vulnerable people protected.
“Voluntarily is a first of its kind. It’s a technology platform that automates a lot of the grass roots work that community volunteer groups need to do to unite and respond to folk in need. Voluntarily will help NZ respond with kindness to the escalating needs of us all going into isolation and needing help” - Vaughan Fergusson.
Voluntarily is taking registrations from three groups 1. organisations that can provide resources to help 2. volunteers who can apply those resources to help communities that need help 3. the communities or individuals needing help.
Voluntarily launches for organisations and volunteers today, Monday 23 March. Later this week the platform will be available to the public and communities to ask for help.