Community Engagement

Community Service

Empowering communities with technology


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Meet the GiftforGood team from NUS Developer Student Club. The team's vision is to galvanise in-kind donations towards a more generous Singapore.

15 October 2020

“The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do…. it is all about potential.”

– Steve Ballmer

To the students and alumni members from NUS Developer Student Clubs (DSC), who initiated the GiftforGood.io project, technology not only empowers what they want to do; it is a powerful tool that they leveraged to empower others as well.

After their volunteering experiences with low-income families, they felt an urgent need to help their beneficiaries, many of whom still have limited access to food and basic necessities. That’s why, in October 2019, they kicked started the GiftforGood project, a platform for Nonprofit Organisations (NPOs) to obtain in-kind donations for their clients and organisational needs.

“The platform would reduce the amount of time and stress faced by NPOs in obtaining in-kind donations. It also actively engaged and retained donors, so that our NPOs can more easily obtain the items that they require. In doing this, we wanted to improve low-income families’ access to basic necessities.” said Yeo Qin-Liang, Business Lead of GiftforGood and Year 3, Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) student.

Bridging the gap between NPOs, Donors and Receivers

Steadfast in their cause and determined in their actions, they started an operation that was extremely complex and meticulous. They wanted to ensure that their product would be one of quality and one that would make a difference.

Firstly, they interviewed over 30 NPOs across the social service sector to learn more about their needs and processes for collecting in-kind donations and gathered their feedback on the proposed website features. In-depth interviews with many NPOs – of different sizes, organisational structures and service areas – were extremely important for the team to map out a user-flow that truly meets the stakeholders’ needs.

After speaking to the NPOs, the team realised a crucial problem: NPOs traditionally relied on Facebook groups, volunteer networks, or in-kind donation websites, which they found challenging to navigate and the process of registering and requesting items were cumbersome and time consuming. Furthermore, finding donors also remained a challenge on these websites because of their limited public outreach.

As a result, they decided to design a platform that was user-friendly, engaging, and efficiency-driven, or in another word, an effective channel to bridge the gap between NPOs, donors and receivers.

giftforgood-lion-befrienders
One of GiftforGood's partner is Lion Befrienders (LB) whose mission is to provide friendship and care for seniors to age in place with community participation. LB is one of the pioneering NPO user of the initiative. Photo courtesy of Lion Befrienders.

At a later stage, they also conducted user acceptance tests (UATs) with the NPOs to determine if their website was fully functional. These UAT sessions were meant to be conducted in-person for developers to observe the behaviour and body language of the user.

Qin-Liang added: “However, we had to perform this stage via Zoom platform because of the COVID-19 outbreak, which made it more difficult to read our users.”

Yet, the challenging situation did not falter their determination to create a product that would serve its purpose. They sharpened their interview format and method to overcome the limits of virtual UATs. In each UAT session, they had two developers observing one NPO user navigate the website. The developers would then interview the NPO user to clarify his/her thought process when using the website. This method enabled the team to maximise the insights they could gain from our NPO users through the UAT sessions.

Multiplying help and grace with the power of technology

Such a thoughtful and meticulous process finally paid off. Upon their launch on 14 September 2020, their platform received overwhelming support from the NPOs. 15 NPOs from different service sectors have registered on GiftforGood within less than on month of launch, and their feedbacks were encouraging and positive. They were generally happy with the features and convenience of the platform.

Lions Befrienders, a Social Service Agency that provides friendship and care for seniors said: “[We are] truly pleased to be on GiftforGood platform as there is none now… The site has a fulfilment portion and chatting function. It is user friendly and we certainly looking forward to the corporates and merchants on board.”

Viriya Community Services, a non-profitable charitable organisation to provide community and social services to families and individuals in need in Singapore regardless of race and religion, applauded the team for creating a platform on which “social workers can seek support so that a wider reach to sponsors/donors can be achieved”.

Among many other compliments the platform on its convenience and user-friendly interface, NPOs also expressed gratitude to be included in this innovative scheme.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore (CPAS), which serves children and adults with cerebral palsy and multiple and caters to the developmental needs of persons with the condition, remarked: “We see the value of GiftforGood as a facilitating platform for CPAS to put up our charity's requests for donation-in-kind and to communicate directly to potential donors. We are glad to be one of the pioneering charities on the platform.”

giftforgood-website

In support of the cerebral palsy community in Singapore, GiftforGood worked with CPAS to facilitate in-kind donations for them. Image: Screengrab from the giftforgood.io website.

And the future ahead…

Of course, the team wants to move beyond this initial success. The team would be enhancing their website to improve its convenience for their NPO users. Qin-Liang revealed: “Some features in the pipeline we are considering  include will include providing automatic recommendations to NPOs of available donations on the platform and displaying these recommendations within the website and emailing to the NPOs; searching for NPOs within the platform; and filtering by different causes with the wishes page.

In addition, DSC would be focusing to onboard individual donors like yourself to join them in their initiative.

Special thanks to DSC members on the GiftforGood Project:

Daniel Khoo

Fullstack software engineer

James Pang Mun Wai

Fullstack software engineer

Kerrthegaa D/O Gopalan

Partnership executive

Koh Chi Hao

Tech head

Nicole Chua Xin Ni

Marketing executive

Roxanne Kwek Le An

Partnership executive

Seo Yoo Jin

Marketing executive

Sneha Menon

Marketing head

Sylvia Chong Hui Yen

Partnership executive

Tan Jin Ying

Tech head

Wong Jing Wen

Business head

Yeo Qin-Liang

Business head

Contributor

Writer: Le Khuc Hoang Uyen, Undergraduate, CNM
Editor: Elissa Chia