I was excited to participate in the Global Service Design Jam last year. I worked with an amazing team to create a theoretical service that would make it easier for those who are interested in helping Syrian refugees act on their intentions. It was fun and a great way to flex the creative muscle. We are working to make this project a reality.
The project our team at Global Service Jam prototyped is called Slact (though we think the name should change to something less tongue-in-cheek since this name trivializes donating from the comfort of the internet. We are thinking naming it NowYouCan). It is an widget that pulls in tasks or donation opportunities from IRC, UNICEF, Kiron University, and other organizations in Lebanon, Turkey, and Europe. This widget will be embedded after articles about Syria. Our research shows that people are most empathetic toward refugees after reading about them or watching a video.
We believe giving people several options for channeling their inclinations to help others would foster a sense of agency. a platform that tracks, visualizes, and rewards people's impact within their social network is the key to a sustainable donation practice.
Tasks pulled in for US users will be mainly monetary but the app/widget's features - it's transparency in how long tasks take and the 'view your impact' visualizations - will create delight in donating money.
For Lebanon, Europe, and Turkey tasks have an even bigger opportunity to be social.
- A school in Turkey can provide a workshop where kids can learn something new together from an equal playing field. The teachers from the school invite their friends to host workshop. It becomes an event where adults bond and network while providing value to the kids.
- For young adults in Universties, this could be bike trip that they would have been taking in cycling club but this time it's also with refugees their age.
- A group of Turkish students learning English has a club where they practice english. They invite refugees to this club and help them learn English too. This is mutually beneficial because everyone gets to practice skills while hanging out with friends.
Social network feature that rewards continual use
For those who donate only, there is an option to sign in, create an account, and connect with likeminded people in your area (location based social discussion board, feed, links with Facebook). Engagement builds is what our team found and people tend to help more when others can see and appreciate their efforts.
Sustainability model - "Karma"
The social network (mentioned above) that connects likeminded people will help sustain the practice of giving. In addition, we are considering partnering with organizations like Amazon. For every x number of dollars/points the platform user spends they can apply towards fulfilling their own needs.
For US users especially, it will be important to create mutually beneficial partnerships with news organizations that would want to feature the widget in the middle or at the end of their articles. Organizations under considerations are: Aljazeera, Huffington Post, and Washington Post.
- Readers have been asking how they can help (a friend of mine who works at New York Times mentioned that readers often write in to ask how they can help after reading one of your articles).
- The widget's "spread awareness" option would increase article shares and impressions.