Volunteer Connect

Empowering volunteers to engage directly with their community.

A screenshot of web page



The Objective

VolunteerConnect is a mobile application that seamlessly connects aspiring volunteers with organizations and opportunities aligned to their interests/needs. In this project, I designed an MVP of the end-to-end application, allowing users to complete the core experience of signing up for a volunteer opportunity and joining organizations.

My Role as Product Designer


User Research, Market Research and Competitor Analysis, Persona, Journey Mapping, User Stories, User Flows, Wireframing, Prototyping, Usability Testing, Branding, UI Design


4 weeks


Figma, Maze Prototyping; Designed for iOS


Individual, Academic Project



Aspiring volunteers lack an accessible, efficient way to find opportunities that match their personal needs and interests.

We want to volunteer, so why don't we?

According to a Stanford research study, over 90% of us in the United States want to volunteer, but only 25% of Americans actually do. (Source) This begs the question: What is driving such a large gap in the number of people who want to make social impact and those of us who actually do?

One of the biggest reasons as cited by research, is that the available volunteer market for volunteers and NPOs (non-profit organizations) is ambiguous and disorganized. While volunteer matching websites and companion apps for organizations exist, these are more often than not, decentralized and inefficient.

Someone who's interested in volunteering has to either find an organization on an out-dated website or through word-of-mouth. Then, they usually go through an extremely painful process of calling the organizations to learn more, emailing over important forms, and scheduling through an archaic booking system before successfully signing up to volunteer.

For example, below is the website and cumbersome registration process for a Non-Profit Organization in the Bay Area that provides programs for retirees:

I know personally, I have found this to be a big deterrent preventing me getting more actively involved in volunteering. However, there is an opportunity to leverage technology to enable prospective volunteers to stay active and connected with their communities in an impactful, meaningful way.

Design Opportunity


With the need for a more scalable solution beyond existing web-only experiences, I’m exploring a mobile application solution that will connect volunteers with opportunities and empower them to get involved, ultimately bridging this gap between desire and action.

Researching the Space


Marketplace: Volunteers and Organizations

While conducting secondary research, I recognized that there is a two-sided marketplace that exists: prospective volunteers and conversely, organizations seeking volunteers. However, it was clear that most indirect competitor apps solely supported volunteers finding opportunities, because organizations require functionality that is more effectively supported on a web application:

  • CRM capabilities - tracking and updating events, metrics tracking
  • Local regulations and organization specific requirements
  • Communication management with volunteers from multiple channels

Therefore, I set the scope of this application will focus on volunteers, as they will more likely benefit from a mobile application based solution. The assumption is consistent with the market: that organizations use a companion, web solution to input their information and post volunteer events that users interact with on a mobile app.

Finding Key
Pain Points


After identifying additional knowledge gaps and remaining questions, I conducted primary research with user interviews to better understand who we should be designing for.

With the goal of understanding user motivations, expectations, needs, and pain points regarding volunteering, the following questions guided the interviews:



Interviews with aspiring volunteers validated the key challenges as highlighted by research studies and further clarified the scope of this application.

Using an affinity diagram, I was able to uncover interesting insights that helped set the design direction and key potential features I should be designing for.

Actionable Insights


Our solution should enable people to safely/flexibly discover, connect with, and engage in volunteer events and organizations in their area, that’s easily customizable for their needs and is intuitive to use. I synthesized the user research to create principles that would guide the solutioning: 


Volunteering is like dating - there's a matchmaking aspect

Most people know what causes they’re interested in volunteering for and their own needs / schedules, they just need to:
1. Know what their options are
2. Have a scalable way to sort & filter through their options

How might we better recommend or align people with volunteering opportunities they actually care about?


Volunteering is valued as a shared experience

Most participants want to meet others with similar interests through volunteering or use it as a way to spend more time with their friends and family while doing good for society. They don't want it to feel like a second job.

How might we create a community of members where people can learn from and support each other?


People want variety and flexibility

Most participants noted wanting more flexibility to volunteer with a variety of NPOs and events, in order to mix up the type of work and the people they do it with.

People need the ability to quickly find information, pivot and sign up for new opportunities if desired.

How might we make volunteering more accessible and seamless for people to embed in their daily lives?


Distance is a factor in determining fit and viability of volunteering

The vast majority of interview participants noted that they want to prioritize volunteering in their local area. It’s currently difficult to narrow search results this way, but it’s highly desirable to have the ability to localize search for volunteering.

How might we allow users to identify relevant opportunities?

Based on research, our solution should be for new or infrequent volunteers, creating a platform for them to explore recommendations, research and sign up for local, public volunteer events that don’t require extensive training or commitment.

Building for
new, aspiring volunteers


The below user persona represents the target users and guided the design process by helping prioritize which features are being built.

Crafting the user journey


With the vision and target users defined, I mapped out how a potential volunteer would use the app, highlighting any potential opportunities for features. I asked some key questions about what interactions would allow for optimal discovery and sign-up of an event:

  • How should someone search for an event or organization?
  • Where should the user be able to find important information they need?
  • How can users research about events and organizations simultaneously?
  • How should users be kept up-to-date about volunteering opportunities?

Based on the user journey, our app should be and end-to-end channel that supports: onboarding > discovery > sign-up.

Leveraging the user journey and all supporting research, I was able to identify and prioritize the following potential features for the application:

Site Map


Since the core feature of this app is the search and discovery, it was important that we clearly defined how discovery navigation paths would be structured. We need to create an intuitive way for users to identify the most relevant opportunities for them.

Through user interviews, I learned that the ways users go about researching is two-fold: some people lead with finding organizations with mission statements they identify with first, and others lead with finding interesting events.

To enable intuitive search both ways, I decided to bifurcate the ‘Explore’ tab using an “Events/Organization” toggle, which gives users the flexibility to search by both.

Sketching the Solution


As I used my site map and user flows to sketch out initial wireframes, I recognized that my feature set was slowly expanding. I decided some of the initial "nice to have" features would not be in scope for this initial version of the app. This meant that features such as: visualization of impact metrics, social features, and monetary donations would not be prioritized in this MVP.

Iterating & 


I leveraged my initial wireframes to build low-fidelity prototypes, which I then used to run usability testing and pressure test my designs.

To test the full breadth of features in this MVP, the primary tasks I had users complete were:

1. Complete new user sign-up process for this volunteering application
2. Research and join an organization that supports a cause you're interested in  
3. Find and complete sign up for a local volunteer opportunity

The main objectives of the usability testing were to: 
1. Assess overall usability - Observe how intuitively users can complete tasks related to the app’s core features
2. Identify pain points - Challenges users experience when completing each task
3. Highlight any gaps - Find any features that users were expecting to have, but did not see in the prototype

01. Navigation Bar

02. Search & Discovery Tooltips

Introducing VolunteerConnect


Simple Personalization

Enter a few details about the causes you want to support, desired volunteering frequency, and share location preferences. Instantly get a personalized feed of volunteer events and organizations that meet your needs.

Informed Discovery

Efficiently research your recommended volunteer events and organizations by filtering, sorting, or searching your feed. With all the important information and options in one place, your search becomes easier than ever.

Seamless Sign-Up

Once you've found the right opportunity for you, sign up in just a few clicks! Receive reminder notifications about what to bring and where to be, a few days before the event.

Rose, Bud, Thorn


VolunteerConnect was the first end-to-end mobile app I designed. I saw a lot of growth as a designer, having worked on the entire design process from ideation > research > prototyping > final design! 

🌹 01. Rose - Wins and Learnings

Taking on such a big project was daunting, because there were so many possibilities for features and scope of of the product. Taking the time to organize and prioritize the feature set and the user flow, helped me define an achievable scope for this project and underlined the importance of a product roadmap in the design process.

🌱 02. Bud - Future Opportunities

This MVP is only the first step in creating a holistic system for volunteers to engage with their communities. What the next iteration would include, is an enhanced notifications tab and more developed social feed to increase engagement on the platform.

🌵03. Thorn - Challenges

When working on such an expansive project, I recognized the importance of prioritizing usability testing and fast design iterations. With several flows, including: onboarding to discovery to booking, it's crucial to test the design with users and iterate as you go, to ensure you are always designing with user needs at the forefront.

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