Design Thinking for Community Service
Hello, my name is Matthew Kolbl and I am a designer at the ZIP Idea Lab. As a full-time student at San Diego State University, I am involved with many organizations around campus, specifically Phi Gamma Delta. For my personal project, I wanted to do something where I could use my resources to the benefit of my fraternity.
Problem Statement: How can I use the Design Thinking Process to incentivize community service participation in Phi Gamma Delta?
To address my problem statement, I stressed the tool of Empathy. Empathy was a crucial step because I needed to understand the way the potential volunteers would work. I began with interviewing Macrae Diamond, the former community service chair of Phi Gamma Delta. His biggest pieces of advice were simply to organize the community service data into a system of spreadsheets, and to use incentives at my events. I also attended an Entrepreneur Society executive meeting to explore possible ways to increase participation. I spoke with David Shadi who stressed the huge impact that marketing and rewarding have on attendance. To complete my empathy steps, I sent a survey out to the brotherhood to get a better understanding of what motivates them to do community service.
As I moved to Define, I reframed my approach to increase participation. I abandoned any ideas to give punishment or force community service. As I learned from the persona tool in empathy, people will react better to incentives rather than threats of punishment. Instead, I reversed the problem statement to promote a positive outlook on community service.
The data I gathered from Empathize and Define laid a great basis for Ideate. I had a general understanding of both sides of community service (the chair and the volunteers) and outside input on marketing (David Shadi, Entrepreneur Society). The most popular responses to the question: “What would motivate you to attend more community service events?” was “free food” and “a discount in dues”. As I looked through possible solutions using the sketch divergent tool, I realized that the most efficient solution would need additional funding.
To afford these requests, I started the Prototype phase by contacting the treasurer of Phi Gamma Delta and proposing a $250 budget for the rest of the semester. With the funds, I plan to spend $170 on food for the next two events and award the brother with the most hours an $80 reduction on his dues. I can simply track the community service hours of each member using my community service record spreadsheet and reward the brother with the most hours of community service at the end of the semester.
As for test, I hosted a community service event on March 5th. The attendance for the last event was spotty, but I supplied food for which I used to additionally market my event. I directly compared the attendance to the last community service event and found a 200% increase in member participation. With only one event since the addition of incentives, I will continue to track community service hours to analyze the success of my rewards.
Finally, to complete the share step in my process. I explained my use of the design thinking process in light of the success of the event on March 5th with the members of the Phi Gamma Delta chapter in my weekly chairman’s report.
All in all, I cannot stress the importance enough of taking time with each step of the process. It is a proven process, but it only works if each step is thoroughly completed. Empathy and define were extremely important because they allowed me to get a better understanding of both sides of the community service chair. Once I had the information regarding the objectives of each side, it was easy to create possible solutions to the well defined problem. Next, I had the research and data to back my proposal in the prototype stage, so it was relatively easy to get the funds approved. The test step gave me concrete proof that my actions yielded success and share allowed me to provide insight on the success of my project. With the success of the incentives, the community service chair of Phi Gamma Delta will continue receiving a budget in future semesters.