The Jeremiah Program

Service design for volunteer satisfaction

Nursery children playing with teacher in the classroom

In 2019, I received the Summer Scholars Independent Research Fellowship, Northeastern's most generous undergraduate research award, to fund a ten-week independent research project in collaboration with my faculty mentor, Dr. Miso Kim.

This research was conducted in partnership with the Boston Chapter of the Jeremiah Program, a national non-profit organization with the mission of ending the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children—two generations at a time. This research supports this organization in its effort to develop its volunteer program and foster a robust pool of committed volunteers.

PROJECT GOAL

This project aimed to demonstrate how a human-centered service design approach can be used to improve the experience of volunteers within a nonprofit organization.

BACKGROUND

  • Many non-profit organizations have not developed ways to take advantage of their volunteers as strategic assets
  • Current research in volunteer management outlines best practices/factors affecting volunteer retention but does not focus on developing distinctive strategies for specific organizations
  • I approached this problem with a problem-solving methodology called service design, bridging the gap between theory and practice by providing the necessary framework for generating tailored strategies for improvement

METHODOLOGY 

Research

I conducted 18 interviews & 4 hours of direct observation. The data collected informed the development of visual models.

 

I conducted 18 interviews & 4 hours of direct observation. The data collected informed the development of visual models. 

  • Stakeholder Map
  • 3 Personas
  • Affinity Diagram
  • How Might We Statements
  • Journey Map
Ideation

Ideation

I facilitated 2 co-ideation workshops with volunteers from the Jeremiah Program and self-generated ideas for improvement.

Prototyping

I developed 6 prototypes, both digital and physical:

  • Welcome email
  • Volunteer handbook
  • Kids' profiles
  • Pre-shift email
  • Newsletter template
  • Activity kits (shown here)

I conducted 6 feedback sessions with volunteers from the Jeremiah Program, which informed the final recommendations and the creation of a prioritization matrix (shown below).

Activity Kit

Prioritization Matrix

Prioritization Matrix

matrix@3x

Implementation

I outlined 17 distinct recommendations and steps for implementation, in order of priority. I also designed a service blueprint showing a comprehensive view of all of these recommendations, integrated into the existing ecosystem.

FINAL RESULTS

Final Report

All findings and recommendations were passed off to the Jeremiah Program in the form of this Research + Discovery Report.

Research + Discovery Report
SERVICE DESIGN MADE SIMPLE

Service Design Made Simple

This project culminated in an online resource that outlines each step of the service design process.

Conclusion

A service design approach:

  • proved successful in developing ideas to improve the service quality of an organization’s internal environment
  • can successfully be used with budget and resource constraints
  • can and should be adapted for other contexts as a method to gain high-level understanding of a system, find pain points, and develop strategies for improvement