Case Study: Orphan Impact
This excerpt comes from a piece published at The Conference Board, Building Leadership with Skills-Based Volunteering: The Nonprofit Opportunity.
What motivates nonprofits and volunteers to engage in skills-based volunteering? Nonprofits use skills-based volunteering to strengthen their infrastructure in ways that better equip them to solve our communities’ challenges. Many volunteers give their skills to help solve a challenge for an organization addressing an issue they care about or to feel connected to the community. In this SNCR 2020 article, Taproot Foundation and Team4Tech partnered to further the social sector’s understanding of the leadership development benefits of skills-based volunteering—focusing exclusively on the nonprofit’s outcomes of such initiatives.
Human-centered design training transforms Orphan Impact’s approach to teaching
Orphan Impact helps Vietnamese orphans prepare for their post-orphanage lives by teaching digital-literacy skills common in the modern workplace. Tad Kincaid, Program Director, was thinking about leadership development for his junior staff prior to their partnership with Team4Tech. Although each staff member had some leadership responsibilities, engaging with a pro bono team offered a new opportunity for the organization, particularly in design thinking.
In March 2015, during a design-thinking training proposed by Team4Tech and led by volunteers from Box, Visa, and Facebook, Orphan Impact team members learned about human-centered design, helping them become more creative problem-solvers in their day-to-day roles. The team put these new skills into practice by using design thinking among their teachers to improve the process for project-based learning and maker-space learning.
Tad said the new way of thinking has been hugely impactful for the whole organization. In nearly every Orphan Impact classroom, the “empathize, define, and ideate” steps found in human-centered design are consistently used in various formats and curriculum. Similarly, the “prototype” and “test” steps are used in every maker class, which comprise nearly 25 percent of the classes taught.
Additionally, managing the Team4Tech volunteers gave Orphan Impact staff new responsibilities. Employees had to adapt to the volunteers’ working practices, personalities, and American culture while making rapid, real-time decisions to make the project a success. The staff had to put into practice immersive, collaborative decision-making to maximize the volunteer’s time at their organization.