Large service events tend to have lots of moving parts — volunteer check-in, timesheets, attendance, task lists, work logs and more. These are all usually tracked and aggregated by scrappy non-profits on paper or basic spreadsheets.
When Chris Head volunteered at a neighborhood youth leadership development program, he helped keep track of paperwork for more than 7,000 teens from across Kentucky.
“We were using pen, paper and Excel to track those volunteer hours, but it was like pulling teeth to get the kids to actually submit their service logs to the organization,” Head tells Hypepotamus.
While observing the behavior of the youth volunteers, Head and his business partner Ben Reno-Weber, who also worked at the non-profit, decided to optimize the check-in and time logging process with a web-based platform.
Their startup, MobileServe, now provides smart reporting and communication to not only non-profits, but also schools, businesses, and university organizations who need to build a hub for volunteers.
“We help organizations track and communicate the good they do in the world through volunteerism,” says Head. “We work with any organization that is either requiring or strongly encouraging their members, their students, or their employees to volunteer.”
MobileServe keeps track of information at the individual level, verifies attendance and tasks, and further engages volunteers with other similar opportunities.
The dashboard displays the number of volunteers and the total economic value of the hours worked. It also shows leaderboards with who is volunteering the most, which helps companies or teams to gamify giving back.
One big user of the platform is schools. Many high schools require students to complete community service hours as a graduation requirement, but the time logs can be tedious to collect and go through and put pressure on the administration.
Schools with MobileServe direct students to download the app for free. They use it to track their hours, as well as to find other opportunities to volunteer. Their logs go through an approval process with the on-site volunteer supervisor and then the school counselor to make sure all requirements were fulfilled.
Students can share their volunteering via social media and add volunteering resumes to college applications.
On the school end, they can access a dashboard with aggregated data across the entire student body. They can turn the data into infographics and other materials.
“It’s more than just donating your time, you’re actually having an impact on these non-profits. Non-profits really thrive off volunteerism as they can’t always afford to pay for everything that they need,” Head says.
Corporations are another target client base for MobileServe, who market it as a tool for corporate social responsibility efforts.
“A lot of employees nowadays want to be a part of an organization that makes them feel bigger than themselves, so it’s more than just a paycheck every two weeks,” says Head. “They want to feel like their company is having a positive impact in the world.”
MobileServe’s corporate clients are able to track their volunteer impact in the local community and display it in annual reports.
To date, MobileServe users have logged more than 3 million hours of service, with an economic impact of nearly $80 million in communities nationwide, says Head. The platform has users in all states and U.S. territory Puerto Rico.
The startup raised $1 million in seed funding in 2017. They are on track to become profitable this year, says Head, and will continue to invest in marketing over the next year.
“At the end of the day we are a for-profit entity, but on the flip side of that, a big piece of this company for me is just encouraging more people to do good in the world,” says Head.