Holly Norton, Ceara McAuliffe Bickerton, Poppy Norton and Sophie Harker are making volunteering faster and easier than ever before. Photo: Colin McDiarmid.

Match-maker app boosts volunteering

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Four young women are on a mission to get more people volunteering in the region through a free ‘match-maker’ app called Collaborate – all you have to do is swipe right on your favourite charity.

The app pairs volunteer’s skills and interests with opportunities in the community and cultural organisations, and can be used on smart phones and computers.

“Essentially it’s Tinder for volunteering,” says says CEO and co-founder, Holly Norton. “But instead, it matches people’s skills with where they can have the biggest social impact.”

“Our goal is to make volunteering fast, fun and addictive.”

Holly designed and built the app with her sister Poppy and Ceara McAuliffe Bickerton, who all attended Nelson College for Girls, alongside their Wellington friend Sophie Harker.

Holly says they first came up with the idea three years ago when they saw the charities they volunteered for were under-resourced and struggling.

“We had also experienced first-hand how hard it was to know where, or even how to help,” says Holly. “We wanted to make it something everyone can do, every day.”

Organisations are able to post opportunities and view profiles of interested volunteers, reducing the time and money spent on volunteer sourcing and management.

Holly says that in the first six months, they had over 140 nationwide charities and hundreds of volunteers using the app – and they are hearing plenty of success stories.

“One day the Red Cross suddenly needed two drivers to help move in new refugee families and found them both through the app that same day,” she says. “It’s amazing how often people don’t know about projects that need help, which are happening in their own backyards.”

The app will be officially launched in Nelson this Friday – although it has already been a hit with several local organisations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Volunteer Nelson, The Brook Sanctuary and Arts Council Nelson.

“We are so honoured and excited to be launching Collaborate in the community that first inspired our entrepreneurial journey,” says Holly. “Now we really want to boost the number of Nelson organisations using it.”

They have also won several awards for the app and are now finalists in the New Zealand High Tech Awards for New Zealand’s Best Public Good Solution for 2018.

Holly says the app is completely free to use and 100 percent volunteer-run.

“We don’t make money from the app – we are entirely non-profit,” she says. “Our philosophy is it should always save every user time and money, as it is about boosting people’s capacity to do good.”

Holly will be speaking at the Young and Inspired event, which is also happening this Friday at the Suter Gallery.

To get the app, visit www.letscollaborate.co.nz