KPMG & Human Aid Now

Supporting voluteers to support refugees

Founded in 2016, at the height of the refugee crisis in Europe, Human Aid Now aims to support refugees. Based on the experience of the founder, Wouter Nientker, Human Aid Now’s ambition is to optimise impact by increasing the sustainability of the volunteers that flocked from all over the world to make their individual contribution. At first, the focus was on providing volunteers with financial support, allowing them to stay longer and thereby increasing the value and effectiveness of their work.  Now Human Aid Now has identified another gap: there is no structured and simple way to share all of the knowledge that the thousands of volunteers have gained and are gaining each and every day.   

So, how can grassroot volunteer coordinators gather and transfer knowledge in order to make their projects more sustainable and effective?

Articulating this challenge was already a praiseworthy start as Human Aid Now participated in and won DCHI’s 2020 Best Humanitarian Challenge Award. But that was just the beginning. Human Aid Now participated in a DCHI accelerator programme during which they looked for external input, collaboration, and partners, and eventually carried out a user test. For this Spotlight we spoke with Catarina Batista, Hero Academy Project Lead, about Human Aid Now’s accelerator experience.

Before reaching out, participants are impelled to elaborate on the articulation of their challenge in the Want stage. Human Aid Now had already taken some significant steps in the articulation of their challenge as they were involved in the 2020 DCHI Best Humanitarian Challenge Award. Catarina Batista: “We want to facilitate knowledge gathering and transfer in a way that is easily digestible and seamlessly integrated with the volunteers’ routine. Our goal is to provide long-term grassroots volunteers with a knowledge centre, the grassroots academy, in order to support and train them as well as to ensure the continuity of projects in the field.”

Out of curiosity, Catarina, who has a background in innovation and design-thinking, joined an event organised by DCHI to attract potential collaborators for Human Aid Now. Considering her background and enthusiasm, she was eventually put on the accelerator to participate on behalf of Human Aid Now. “It was great. We went from concept to testing within five or six months. The accelerator and the support from the coaches was really crucial to keep us moving forward, to make us feel accountable, to give external perspective, and to give us a push every now and then.”

The accelerator coaches push the participants to put their ideas on paper and to discuss details. Documenting thoughts, ideas, and steps in canvasses, tables and so on perhaps is not something that is appreciated initially as it requires a lot of work for something of which the value is not immediately clear, but Catarina was later rewarded for her efforts. “When you start meeting with partners it makes it much easier when you have everything documented as you don’t have to think about these details on the spot. The structure of documentation was really valuable at the end. We might not appreciate it as we go, but for sure, it helps a lot as you’re progressing and involving more and more people.”

Human Aid Now did not only find a new, dedicated member to their team in the Find stage. Many different actors provided Human Aid Now with input throughout the accelerator. “We decided to look for different partners for different stages of the process instead of one or a few committed partners from start to finish. We have quite a good pool of partners from different areas and different fields. They help us by advising, by creating with us or in whatever way they want to contribute. This has actually made it a bit richer even.” The partners come in different shapes and forms, ranging from design studios to other grassroot organisations, from big international NGOs to universities.

KPMG helped to design a roapmap to maturity

One close collaboration is the partnership with KPMG, a consultancy firm that they met during the DCHI Coalition Café. “We met the representatives of KPMG in March and started a collaboration in July this summer. We kept the conversation going ever since and they will help us in a more in-depth way by making a roadmap with us and to figure out how to get the prototype to a level of maturity. We made a project overview compiled of the work we’ve done for the accelerator which functioned as a handover document to KPMG for them to get up to speed with the project.  

Following the consultations and idea generation sessions with different stakeholders, Human Aid Now settled for the Grassroots Daily. “The Grassroots Daily is a compilation of messages that get to the coordinators every, for example, morning. Every day they will have an insight into the toughest topics of volunteering. For example, one day you will get an email on how to deal with cultural differences.” Although the idea was preceded by many in-depth interviews and elaborations, the Get stage was nevertheless very convenient as it allowed Human Aid Now to test a prototype in the field and thereby to gather some interesting findings.

User test

The user test consisted of sending emails in the morning and WhatsApp messages at lunchtime for five consecutive days with users located in Greece, the UK, and Germany. “The feedback overall was fairly good. But we were more interested in what else we could explore and learn from this. For example, we learnt that every day for 5 days is perhaps too frequent as users couldn’t absorb and share it as much. We also learnt that it was not inclusive enough as we focused mainly on volunteers from Western countries. One big lesson was that we needed to think more about community engagement through a suggestion box or perhaps some kind of a forum. We are keen on exploring this option further.  

In 2022, Human Aid Now aims to start deploying their solution to larger audiences. “First we want to focus on Europe. Our biggest pool of users that we have contact with is in Greece, so we will probably start there. but we’ve also tested with people that are in Bosnia, for example.” By setting out such an ambitious target, Human Aid Now has demonstrated the potential value of a well-thought-out innovation process, including a clear challenge articulation, outward perspective, and willingness to test assumptions in the field.

Innovation steps towards impact

Want

Facilitate knowledge gathering and transfer in a way that is easily digestible and seamlessly integrated with the volunteers’ routine

Human Aid Now identified a gap: there is no structured and simple way to share all of the knowledge that the thousands of volunteers have gained and are gaining each and every day.   

Find

KPMG & many more partners

Many different actors provided Human Aid Now with input throughout the accelerator.

The partners come in different shapes and forms, ranging from design studios to other grassroot organisations, from big international NGOs to universities.

Get

The Grassroots Daily is a compilation of messages that get to the coordinators every day 

we learnt that every day for 5 days is perhaps too frequent as users couldn’t absorb and share it as much. We also learnt that it was not inclusive enough as we focused mainly on volunteers from Western countries. One big lesson was that we needed to think more about community engagement through a suggestion box or perhaps some kind of a forum. We are keen on exploring this option further.

Scale

Increase the income of the nomadic camel farmers

In 2022, Human Aid Now aims to start deploying their solution to larger audiences.  

Human Aid Now has demonstrated the potential value of a well-thought-out innovation process, including a clear challenge articulation, outward perspective, and willingness to test assumptions in the field.