Antwerp app helps volunteers connect


Give A Day won the most votes in the recent Apps from Antwerp competition, and will bring volunteers into contact with the local organisations that need their skills

Benevolent matchmaking

An app that matchmakes between volunteers and organisations that need their help is being developed in Antwerp. Called Give A Day, the project received the most votes in June’s Apps from Antwerp competition, winning €20,000 to help make the idea a reality.

The app has its origins in last year’s Calais refugee crisis. “There was an organisation here in Antwerp that had collected donations and needed volunteers to go to the camp and help the people over there,” explains Bart Wolput, founder of Give A Day. “So we proposed making a website for them, matching the volunteers with the right project team and things like that.”

In the process, he realised that connecting with volunteers and co-ordinating them was a common problem. “So the idea started that we could make something more general that would be available for all non-profit and volunteering organisations.”

The first step was to talk to non-profits about problems they face finding volunteers. “We saw that there really is a need for a platform that matches volunteers with the right organisation for them, based on their interests, location and so on,” Wolput says.

The idea of Give A Day is that potential volunteers will be able to register with the app, setting out their skills, interests and availability. They may decide to volunteer alone, or with a group of like-minded friends. These people would then be matched with volunteering opportunities registered by non-profit organisations.

On the right track

In May, Give A Day won a competition run by Qmusic, worth €5,750, to which the team can now add the €20,000 from Apps from Antwerp. The new money comes with a catch, however: the app must be built by the beginning of October.

“It’s going to be tough, but we are on the right track,” says Wolput. After beginning with just two people, there is now a team of 10 working on the project.

While there are technical hurdles ahead, such as getting the app to mesh with the popular diary programmes, the main challenge is to build the community of volunteers and non-profits. “When we launch, there should already be a supply and demand.”

There really is a need for a platform that matches volunteers with the right organisation for them

- Bart Wolput

And while it is beginning in Antwerp, the aim is to cover the whole region. “We are now contacting other cities and we want to deploy it immediately over the whole of Flanders,” Wolput says. Charities that want to be involved are welcome to get in touch.

The Apps from Antwerp competition involved 26 projects, all intended to improve life in the city. The public ballot in June attracted more than 5,000 votes.

Second place, worth €15,000, went to Gifts by Sir. This app finds original but appropriate gifts in nearby shops and has them delivered, if necessary. The idea is to help people with no time to shop or who have trouble thinking beyond a bottle of wine when faced with a house-warming party.

The idea also supports local businesses by connecting them with new customers, and helps delivery services develop.

Third place, worth €10,000, went to StreetArtAntwerp, which will help people discover street art around the city, at their own pace or by following guided tours between the works. It will also provide a space for local artists to show what they can do.

All the winners, plus five runners-up, will get help in the form of marketing, legal and logistics advice, if they need it. The runners-up include apps to help people get out of their digital bubble, to discover historic Antwerp, to form local jogging groups, and to mobilise medical help for people having heart attacks.