Packing Boxes

Boosting Volunteerism

Redesigning the Second Harvest website to create a more positive volunteer experience and increase volunteer engagement.



3 UX Design Students

My Role

User research and interviews, Content strategy, Visual design, Wireframes, Prototyping, Usability testing


2 weeks


Second Harvest (SH) is a food bank that needs volunteers to remain engaged with their organization so that they may sustain a robust volunteer community throughout and after COVID-19. Volunteers need a smooth and pleasant volunteering experience so that they may optimize the effort and time they give to SH.

Final Solution

We streamlined the volunteering process by making more CTA buttons available and exposing a list of volunteer opportunities on the homepage. We incentivised people to volunteer by rewarding them with volunteer of the month spotlights and by highlighting the importance of volunteering through visual statistics and a video of beneficiaries. 

Problem & Solution

"How can I help during COVID?"

With the current pandemic situation, volunteers are uncertain about what volunteering might look like for them. Second Harvest still has volunteering shifts open, but their website is not clear on highlighting these opportunities and places the burden on volunteers to seek out ways to help. They haven’t yet optimized the potential of the high volume of volunteers ready to support them.

"Make it easy for me to volunteer."

We implemented a personalized volunteer engagement system, streamlined the volunteer sign up process, highlighted the importance of volunteer impact, and offered alternative ways to help out during COVID. Now volunteers can more easily access volunteer opportunities while also feeling appreciated for the work they do! In turn, Second Harvest will cultivate a robust volunteer pool that sustains itself well into the future.

Our Design Process

Grasping the Situation

How do you solve a problem if you don’t know what the problem is? Before moving on to designing, we had to make sure we were clear on our brief and what it is Second Harvest even needed. We did a business analysis to understand our client’s identity and priorities so that we could succinctly articulate their problem and potential solutions we could offer.

Understanding our User

The most important value I could adhere to as a designer is to remember that our user is at the center of everything we do. We conducted multiple in-depth interviews with our classmates to understand what might motivate someone to volunteer and what keeps them coming back. We were lucky enough to discover that one of our classmates actually had extensive experience volunteering so we followed up with a more in-depth interview where we were able to narrow our questions to focus on specific volunteering tasks and experiences.

Collaboration is Key!

No person is an island, and that is especially true in a design team. My team’s first week of work was difficult at times due to us wrestling with the project while simultaneously learning each other’s work and communication styles. During moments like this, it’s important to understand that each person is trying and contributing what they can. I consciously make an effort to ensure each team member feels their ideas are heard and appreciated. By the second week, we operated much more smoothly.

Our Implementations

Highlight Mission Statement & Impact

Making the mission statement the first thing users see sends a clear message. This encourages trustworthiness and mitigates confusion. Highlighting an impact video along with the mission statement shows validity in the work and pulls at the heartstrings of the users, urging them to engage. Showing the impact of the organization provides statistics that validate their work and ensures volunteers their work matters.

Make Volunteers Feel Special

Spotlighting exceptional volunteers encourages all volunteers to do better because they feel both appreciated for the work they do and motivated to do better in order to gain recognition!

Ways to Help During COVID

Volunteers are weary about the pandemic and may be unsure about volunteering. Be clear on the fact that volunteering opportunities have been restructured to accommodate those concerns and provide options for volunteers to choose what they’re most comfortable with.

Provide Clarity

Providing adequate details about specific tasks and expectations helps volunteers to trust the organization and feel more in control of their contribution.

Let Them Share

Placing social media links right on the volunteer opportunity page allows volunteers to easily share with their community and encourage others to join!

Highlight Their Skills

Listing the skills needed/learned at a specific volunteering event informs the user what is expected of them as well as what they will be learning and gaining from the experience. This could entice volunteers by validating skills that can be transferred to their resume for future employment opportunities.

Personalize Their Experience

Implementing a personalized newsletter for volunteers with accounts streamlines the volunteer process. It takes the burden off volunteers to have to repeatedly check back in for volunteer opportunities and it only sends them relevant volunteer shifts that are specific to their capabilities.

Give Volunteers Control

Allowing the ability to filter volunteering opportunities gives volunteers the power to control what and how they’re contributing. This promotes a more pleasant experience that’s catered to the volunteer. The volunteer can feel seen and Second Harvest presents itself as a more organized and well-established agency.

Reflections & Next Steps

Off to a good start, but we can always do better!

We are on the right path to creating a better Book Passage website and I am confident the suggestions made so far will help form a more mutually beneficial relationship between BP and their customers. To improve even further, I would like to implement all the feedback I’ve gotten from usability testing and include additional features, such as more filters, to enhance the customer experience. I am certain that with more refining and testing of the website, I will be able to create the ultimate medium through which Book Passage and their customers can find community and a great read!

Thank you for reading!

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