Minihero: An open-source site connecting nearby volunteers, all around the globe
Today, it takes a few taps to hire someone to pick up groceries for you, to book accommodation on the other side of the world, or to order a product with next day delivery, if not sooner.
Yet, there’s no killer app for people wanting to help one another and do good for their own community. You have to sign up to corporate-run volunteering organisations, go through induction programs, and interviews.
Getting into volunteering is slow, daunting and bureaucratic:
Getting into volunteering should be convenient, fast and enjoyable:
What if volunteering was as easy as calling an Uber?
Apps already exist that make it easier for people to do good in this new age of micro-volunteering. Be My Eyes is a great example. But nothing exists in the form of “I want to see how I can get involved in my community, right now.” Meetup.com comes close, but it’s a convoluted experience and it charges organisers money.
Hypothesis: People want to do good.
I believe that people want to help each other, but they need a simple, free app that cuts through red tape, doesn’t nag them with expectations for long-term commitment, and instantly shows how to get involved nearby.
Meet Minihero: An app making it easy to volunteer.
Missions are how people organise themselves on Minihero. Each mission has a time, date and a place to meet. There’s no limit to the kind of missions that can be created, as long as they are for the good of the community.
Missions can range from helping out your local animal shelter or a communal yoga session in the park, all the way to organisation of public demonstrations. It’s what the community makes of it, really.
No fundraising, no clicktivism, no fees and no ads.
There are a myriad of “do good under the name of capitalism” products that focus more on raising money — up and to the right 💸—and aligning with corporate interests than actually enabling people to help themselves. You know those “buy a coffee and we’ll give one dollar to a charity” shitfests that would make George Carlin spit venom.
Minihero cuts out the middleman whenever possible and connects people directly. The internet has the potential to render obsolete the inefficiency of the corporate-run “nonprofits” we rely on for social good.
All we need is open source technology, and clever people, and we can help ourselves. Power to the people! ✊🏼
This project is hosted on Github. The APGL-3.0 license means anyone can use the code freely as long as their work is also open source.
I encourage you to take part in this project with me. I need help from clever people of all walks of life. In the short term I particularly need advocates, web developers, native app developers, marketers and enlightened folks working for nonprofits or other volunteering organisations. How can you get involved? Contact me on Twitter, and we’ll go from there.
Minihero is the start of an idea.
You can support the project on Patreon. I donate my personal time to this project, and I’m happy to do so, but I have to focus my energies elsewhere full-time to pay the bills.
If this project starts getting some users, I’d love to do the following next:
- Use it to organise and take part in some volunteering missions myself.
- Talk to some people from nonprofit organisations and see if we can take down the barriers to volunteering together.
- Native apps on iOS and Android. The current site works on mobile browsers, but I’d love to build a fully native app using either Turbolinks or React Native.
- Tons of improvements. First on the list is comments on mission pages. Then, email and phone notifications for mission updates, new comments on the missions you joined etc. And, some swagged-up badges would be great to give people something in return for their time and effort. It’d be rewarding to get a little “Selfless Missionary” or “Change-Making Ninja” badge after achieving certain milestones.