Community Engagement

Community Service

Empowering communities with technology


banner image

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 (Updated on 9 Nov 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 engages and retains donors, so that our NPOs can more easily obtain the items that they require. In doing this, we hope 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 to make a difference, the team began a meticulous process of research and development to ensure that their product would create the kind of social impact they envisioned.

Firstly, they interviewed over 30 NPOs across the social service sector to learn more about their needs and processes for collecting in-kind donations, gathering 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 would truly meet the stakeholders’ needs.

Upon conducting this research, the team quickly identified a problem: NPOs traditionally relied on Facebook groups, volunteer networks, or in-kind donation websites to facilitate donations. The existing websites, however, were challenging to navigate, and the process of registering and requesting items was cumbersome. Finding donors also remained a challenge on these websites because of their limited public outreach.
 
As a result, the Gift for Good team decided to design a platform that was user-friendly, engaging, and efficiency-driven. In other words, an effective channel to bridge the gap between NPOs, donors and beneficiaries.

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 LB.

As the project progressed, they also conducted user acceptance tests (UATs) with NPOs to determine if their website was fully functional. These UAT sessions were conducted in-person for developers to observe the behaviour and body language of users.

Qin-Liang added: “However, we had to perform this stage via Zoom because of the COVID-19 outbreak, which made it more difficult to interview the user-testers."
 
Nonetheless, the team didn’t let the challenging situation faze them. Instead, 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 then interviewed NPO users to clarify their thought processes while using the website. This method enabled the team to maximise the insights they could gain from NPO users through the UAT sessions.

Multiplying help and grace with the power of technology

As it turns out, the thought and care put into development has paid off! Upon their public launch on 14 September 2020, GiftforGood has received overwhelming support from the NPOs. 15 NPOs from different service sectors have registered on GiftforGood in less than a month of their launch, and their feedback has been encouraging and positive thus far. 

Lions Befrienders, a Social Service Agency that cares 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-profit charitable organisation providing community and social services to families and individuals in need, 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 commendations the platform has received on its convenience and user-friendly interface, NPOs also expressed gratitude to be included in this innovative scheme.
 
Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore, which serves children and adults with cerebral palsy and multiple disabilities, 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. Multiple website enhancements are already underway to improve the platform’s convenience for their NPO users and individual donors.

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 and also replying promptly on the chat."

In addition, GiftforGood is focusing on onboarding 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