Prior to 2021, many Atlassians used their skills for good through volunteering. A family member working with a nonprofit organisation would ask for their help, they would come to the Foundation, and we captured their contributions. Alternatively, nonprofits would come directly to the Foundation in need of support, mostly via email. Fortunately, Jono our Foundation Director is one of those people who knows half the company and could find and convince people to jump on board.
Atlassian teams grew 30% from 2020 to 2021 to over 6400 employees. The company also shifted to ‘TEAM Anywhere’, a concept that supports working from the place that makes the most sense for team members, and promotes flexible work in general. This means that employees who joined remotely were looking for meaningful ways to connect deeply with teammates across the business and traditional in-person volunteering became less feasible. Skilled volunteering provided the perfect opportunity for immense impact in a virtual world.
Engage 4 Good
In February 2021, we piloted our skilled volunteering program, Engage 4 Good. The goal - 50 projects completed for purpose-driven organisations. Organisations submitted their problems and potential impact, and 75 of the most feasible and impactful projects were made available to Atlassians. Like all good pilots, we had some key learnings:
Volunteers wanted project suggestions based on their skills and interests however for many it was still a manual task to find the right project for them.
Projects needed a clear lead and not all volunteers want to lead or had the skills to. Some projects lost momentum as a result and were not completed.
The biggest barrier to joining a project, and delivering it, was time, despite each employee receiving 5 days of volunteering leave per year.
Overall, however, our volunteers delivered an estimated $250,000* worth of value to the sector with 95% of organisations agreeing that the project had a meaningful impact. Over 290 volunteers gave 1340 hours to complete 60 projects, doubling the number of ad-hoc projects normally completed during a similar timeframe. Our project with Black Duck Foods, captured in this video, involved our team helping them to set up Trello, an Atlassian product, to coordinate a national indigenous grain network across Australia.
Other projects included developing an onboarding process for new staff at Good2Give, developing a curriculum in Product Management for disadvantaged students at America on Tech, and mitigating COVID-19 vaccine-related misinformation using Jira for Stanford Internet Observatory. One organisation described the impact of the project,
"Inefficiencies have been significantly reduced, and it’s enabled our Creative Director to get out of the weeds so to speak, focusing on the brand voice, story and values. And as the Founder, I can spend more time strategically navigating the bigger picture and organising the people and resources required to scale."
The program also had positive outcomes for teams: 81% of volunteers gained a new skill with leadership and influence being the top skill gained, and 88% are more likely to do skilled volunteering projects in the future.
Engage 4 Good 2.0. - August 2021
It’s always fulfilling to deliver a program for the second time, with improvements from the first iteration. We adjusted the application form and guides for purpose-driven organisations to encourage them to prioritise and clearly define the problem they wanted to solve. We have improved the volunteer journey, making it simpler to find and join projects and get started with the purpose-driven organisation as a lead. We have also removed friction for volunteers by providing standardised collaboration agreements and workspaces for collaboration and communication using Slack and Confluence.
We are continuing to work on self-serve functions to help volunteers find others to join their projects and processes to allow teams to break projects into phases, and bring in suitable skillsets at the right time.
We expect to deliver 60 projects by the year-end with another 60 to be delivered in the first half of 2022. We look forward to providing you with an update early next year once we have evaluated the program outcomes.