Use technology to collaborate with Millennial volunteers online

Collaboration and brainstorming doesn’t have to happen at a set time and place, in person, on walls with flip chart paper and post it notes.

In order to work with young peoples’ busy (and often inflexible) schedules because of work, school and childcare, use technology to collaborate online. This is also a fantastic way for national organizations to work with people outside of their geographic area.

I’m currently working with 3 other young women to plan (as volunteers) the next version of the recently closed Next Leaders Network in Vancouver. Sure, we met once in person. But so much work can get done in between meetings if technology is harnessed.

My two standard tools are:

  • Google Docs – a place to build and edit documents openly online. People don’t have to have a Google account to contribute. The person that creates the document can leave it open for anyone with the link to edit. Use it for brainstorming, everyone adding their own responses to a question, for people to add comments to an existing document. 27 Shift used Google Docs last year tocrowdsource an article for for a special Millennial edition of Village Vibes that we produced.
  • Dropbox – a place to share files online. People that install Dropbox on their desktop have folders that look like any other folders, except they are linked to “the cloud” instead of just a computer. When you are online, the files sync up automatically. If you are offline you can still access articles, but they won’t be updated for everyone else until you get back online. No more emailing versions of documents around and around.

These two common tools are nothing new for many people who work collaboratively and virtually. But using them allows organizations to engage volunteers who aren’t able to contribute at a fixed time and place.

Any other collaborative online tools you find useful?