Helping Out - the app that connects willing volunteers with the needs of local charities

12 June 2017 ‐ 6 min read

It’s now super easy to contribute to your local community – simply open an app! Freshly minted and released into the world from 4i’s innovative dev studio, Helping Out connects ordinary, everyday individuals looking for ways to make a difference, with the real needs of local charities, enabling anyone to donate their time or items in whatever capacity they’re able to.

If there’s one thing we know about South Africans and local companies, it’s that we’re good at lending a helping hand when it’s needed. Initiatives like Mandela Day are the proof. The problem however, is that there's still many charitable organisations in need of help, and a good number of individuals willing to do something, but they're unsure what to do or where to begin. The 4i team opted to take action by bridging this gap using mobile technology. 

No sign ups, no long term commitments, just good old helping out where you can with what you have.

How it works

Helping Out gives non-profit organisations a useful, easily accessible platform to advertise their needs free of charge, and seek out help where and when they need it most. All they need to do is register via an easy-to-use desktop CMS platform and list their needs.

Users (helpers) can find donation centres or volunteering opportunities by scrolling the list of needs posted by registered nonprofit organisations on the Helping Out app. For those with a particular social interest, users can view needs according to the different categories - Animal Welfare, Education, Environment, Health, Safety and Social Services. Once a user has found a need that they’re willing and able to fulfil, they can respond via the app, and the corresponding organisation can contact them with further details using in-app chat. Users have a basic app profile with the ability to see a list of needs where they have already helped out, as well as upcoming needs that they have responded to.

4i believes in using what's in our hands to make a true difference in society.

Development insights

It’s been a great departure from our norm – this time around, we were the stakeholders and owners of the app rather than building for a client. Throughout the design and development process, we took a very agile approach, working through each phase and transforming segments of the application as we worked. Every member of our team participated in this process, so it’s been an investment made by all of us to help make things a little easier in the world. With everyone taking an active interest in developing Helping Out, it’s been a key lesson in realising that our people don't just care about the bottom line of business, but believe in using what’s in our hands to make a true difference in society.

Helping Out as a startup

With no client and no funding, developing and designing Helping Out was very much an internal project, but the process forced us to think about it as a business, and chart a way towards not only monetising the application, but also attracting funding so we can roll out further development.

Roll out plans

Helping Out is available through both iTunes and Google Play stores, and currently includes a pilot launch list of non-profit organisations located in Stellenbosch with a range of listed needs. We started right at home in our local community, so that we can learn from the experience, incorporate information gleamed from Helping Out being live in the world and look towards rolling it out in other cities and regions.

We’re also excited to have our very first brand ambassador onboard: singer-songwriter Herman Kleinhans from the Afrikaans folk band, Twee. Herman is a co-founder of Helping Out and has been involved from the start, providing key insights into the development of Helping Out, while he oversees and facilitates relationships with non-profit organisations and encourages signups.

Are you a stellenbosch-based NGO or charity looking to find out more? Send an email to info@helpingout.org.za