According to a 2019 survey, the biggest challenge face by nonprofit organizations in the United States and Canada is the lack of staff. This lack of staff is not due to the overabundance of nonprofit organizations but rather the fact that over 80% of Americans don't volunteer regularly - and at a loss too. According to VolunteerHub, an organization that runs case studies for nonprofits, volunteering in the United States alone is worth 184 billion dollars and volunteerism improves heath by strengthening the body, improving mood, and lessening stress in participants - something that Americans could greatly use, especially during the COVID-19 where stress and anxiety are at their peak. Those that volunteer also enjoy a 27% increase in their chances of employment.
Volunteering is linked the U.S. economy and its citizens' wellbeing in every way, yet a 2018 report shows a decline in volunteering in 31 states over the past 10 years. While the world becomes increasingly digital and people spend more time glued to their screens, an opportunity arises where the world of digital and its many benefits can unite with volunteerism to improve the world around us. Technology has the ability to reach more people than ever before and that is exactly what nonprofits need.
The goal of Outreach - an easy to use mobile app that helps nonprofits find its volunteers - is to help nonprofit organizations reach out to millions of Americans who are missing out on both improving the society around them and their wellbeing.
What is Outreach?
Outreach is a all-in-one, easy to use mobile application that helps nonprofit organizations find their volunteers, and volunteers find nonprofit organizations. Outreach's design maximizes not only the user experience, for volunteers and organizations alike, but also the expandability and scalability of the platform using Firebase and Flutter. Here's how it works.
1. Outreach allows users to sign up for volunteering opportunities with the tap of a button
Outreach's simple architecture allows both nonprofit organizations and volunteers to easily connect!
2. Users can search for volunteering opportunities via tags
Outreach's tag searching allows organizations to generate tags and volunteers to search for their preferred volunteering type!
3. Create and manage your organizations easily!
Outreach's simple design makes it very easy for organization owners to create and manage their organizations, no fuss involved.
Outreach is built on Flutter, Firebase Auth, and Firestore. Flutter's versatility allows Outreach to be used on both IOS and Android devices. Firestore is used to store user, organizations, and volunteering opportunities.
Challenges we ran into
The largest challenge was working with Dart's asynchronous system when implementing Firebase. Another minor challenge was Git, as our branches proliferated and diverged from master.
First and foremost, we are extremely proud that three of our members are beginners and high school freshmen. It's very impressive to be so as advanced as they are in programming at such an age, and more impressive that they're proactively taking steps to improve their skills and broaden their experience.
What we learned
There was plenty to take away from this hackathon. On top of Figma and its UI designing capabilities, we learned to work as a team in implementing Firebase into Flutter.
Although the foundation of Outreach is mostly complete, due to the flexible architecture of Outreach, the app is highly scalable and expandable. Future additions could include a leaderboard page to further incentivize users to volunteer or tag search autocomplete to improve user search experience.