Monday, January 30, 2012

Communications & Community

The recent launch of our new support and feedback process for Volunteer2 got me thinking about how open communications with our clients can build community and create an environment where everyone benefits. If gathering client feedback and providing easy access to frequently asked questions was good for us and our clients, in some circumstances it might also be good for nonprofits and their volunteers. Let me start by describing our early experiences with our newly implemented system from

Regarding suggestions for product improvements - We have received great information from clients; better than ever before. We have always been receptive to feedback, but now – because clients get to vote on other ideas as well as add their own – we get a better sense of the big picture of what clients want. Given that our clients are the front line users, obviously, their ideas matter. In the end, we build better software, which is always a part of our mission.

Regarding the searchable FAQ - We can see that some of our clients are getting the answer to their questions without having to wait for our reply. It opens a door for clients to understand our software better, and as such, they can do more with it. This, of course, is good for us too as it saves us time.

So how was I thinking this could apply to you and your volunteers?

Regarding suggestions for organizational improvements - Volunteers are often part of the front line of an organization. A suggestion box approach yields one-off ideas, but a community approach where volunteers get to vote and comment on other ideas, creates dialog and a better understanding of the issues.

Regarding the searchable FAQ – Volunteers have questions. For some, a searchable FAQ is the most convenient way to get the answer, especially when they think it might be a “dumb” question. It opens the doors to your volunteers being better educated as a volunteer and as such, fulfill their role better than before. It also, of course, can save you time.

Building community with your volunteers is likely not anything new to you. Using these new communications tools such as the one we have begun to use is just another resource to make it happen.

PS. Uservoice is not the only service like this. Because each is a little different, a few are worth exploring.