Agnieszka Buczyńska has been working at the Volunteer Centre in Gdańsk for several years. Her adventure with the centre began… with volunteering, and the desire to do something for others. She has been the president of the Centre for four years. She also coordinates the project for a mobile application for volunteers. Aspire is a technological partner of this project.
Today we are talking to Agnieszka about the application for volunteers. We asked her also about her career and what challenges are being faced by volunteers in Gdańsk.
What was the most appealing thing about volunteering for you?
The opportunity to do something useful. I also wanted to gain practical experience to complement my studies: sociology and political science. It turned out that the Volunteering Centre needed someone to work on the surveys. I managed to combine doing something good with what I was studying.
This is how my adventure began. I started to write grant applications. Then they offered me a management position.
What is the mission of the Volunteer Centre in Gdańsk?
We are a middleman between organizations and volunteers. Our task is to connect two parties in an exchangeable win-win relationship. We also spread the idea of volunteering, especially among residents of Gdańsk.
How did the cooperation with Aspire start?
Our cooperation started 5 years ago. It was during a project of employee volunteering. Employees shared their knowledge with NGO representatives. We organized a series of lectures on how to take care of the brand image and marketing, how to manage social media channels, etc. Aspire’s (back then it was Goyello) employees did this pro-bono.
This is where our cooperation began. Or rather a relationship. We liked each other. We saw that each of us had a goal that we could support. The cooperation initiative came from Aspire. We had a phone call and our first thought was that we had a lot of needs in the field of technologies. We had been making our website for almost 2 years and our dream was to create an application to enable young people to volunteer.
What is the purpose of the application?
We noticed that young people don’t want to apply in a traditional way. They avoided logging into the system.
This application will enable them to apply. It will also generate volunteer certificates. It will make easier to earn extra points when applying to high schools. Volunteers will receive a certificate or points through the application.
What is the greatest value of this application?
What is most important is that present and future volunteers look forward to it. It will be a key tool for our volunteers, serving the entire Gdańsk community, not only for the volunteer centre but also for the development of all volunteering in the city. We have a holistic effect here. The project covers every city resident. Besides, this will be the first application for volunteering in Poland.
Who is this application for?
All Gdańsk residents. Mainly young people, although active seniors reach for technological innovations as well. They are not your statistical, digitally excluded seniors. They have wide access to tools. I think that if we make an information meeting about the application, they may use it on tablets.
What is the average age of a volunteer in Gdańsk?
We have a group of young people and seniors. Employee volunteering is also quite strong. We also see more and more family volunteering and have a large group of teacher volunteers.
What is the role of Aspire in the project?
Crucial. I am very impressed with the work method, so-called sprints, but also a sense of a common purpose. We all want the project to be great. New ideas appear in all the stages of work on the application. They often come from the team.
We described our needs, but how to approach it so that it was user-friendly, that was the role of Aspire. Testing colours, suggestions on how screens should look, how to improve filtering. Key user options are something we would probably forget about if it hadn’t been for Aspire. Two professionals: from the volunteer and IT industries.
You’ve never worked on application design. What do you think about the work process?
IT has always fascinated me. The agile method, in which we work, allows changes. In the industry, this may be obvious, but for me, it was a discovery.
We had conversations during which we had to explain our work to each other. You could see that there was chemistry between people, space for jokes, relationship. It was professional, but not formal. There was also space for rejecting ideas and suggesting other things.
But most of all – openness to new ideas, to make the app cool, not just be. I never heard “that was not in the plan”. This attitude eliminates all barriers and builds openness. And that is the most important thing for me! As well as the fact, that Aspire does voluntary work in this project.