Hackathon for the Homeless

Volunteer engagement & onboarding with Salesforce


Hackathon for the Homeless

Volunteer engagement & onboarding with Salesforce


How could a local non-profit optimize the volunteer sign-up process to improve volunteer engagement?


Still stuck in the dark ages, Homeless Prenatal Program (HPP)'s volunteer recruitment process possessed numerous barriers to volunteer onboarding - including paper forms, delays in data entry and follow-up. 


Working with a team of UX designers and developers from Salesforce we streamlined and automated HPP's volunteer engagement process, integrating into the agency's existing Salesforce database.




ROLE: Product Manager, cross-functional 6 person team

TEAM MEMBERS: Shannon Hale, Cordelia McGee-Tubb, Cheryl Porro, Jenna McAnulty, Joe Speciale

PROJECT DURATION: 3 day hackathon, 6 month implementation

METHODS: Contextual Inquiry, Competitive & Comparative Analysis, Sandbox Prototyping

TOOLS: Paper, Pencil, Pens, Salesforce, Powerpoint

DELIVERABLES: Product Pitch, Visualforce Pages, Presentation, Training, Documentation

COOKIES EATEN: Waayyy too many


Focused on solving the pressing needs of vulnerable populations, non-profits rarely have the time, resources or know-how to implement technological solutions. Yet, ironically, these solutions would increase productivity and allow organizations to serve more people, more effectively. 

As Communications Manager for the Homeless Prenatal Program, I led a team of volunteers during ReAllocate's HACKtivation for the Homeless. 


To best utilize the time and resources of our Salesforce volunteers, I scoped out the weekend Hackathon project to:


Digitize HPP's current paper-based volunteer sign up form


Digitize paper InKind Donation form


Mobile-optimize current Visualforce online donation page

The 3 day hackathon proved time enough to just scratch the surface of the online volunteer intake form, and we began a six month long relationship to deploy the additional two projects.


Project Pitch



To inform our design, I mapped out the current and ideal user flows for volunteers signing up with the agency. This revealed various key features needed - such as automated emails and custom field-mapping within Salesforce.


Other agency volunteer sign-up processes were explored.

  • Many volunteering sites had barriers such as profile creation, external website links, and even credit card entry forms.
  • Welcoming, warm UI and automated responses increased the enjoyment of the volunteer sign-up process.


At the completion of the hackathon, we presented our accomplishments thus far. Our solution was one of the most successful projects at the hackathon, and our volunteers committed to seeing it through to deployment.

 "We made this blank screen!"

"We made this blank screen!"


Over the next 6 months as designers and developers built the Visualforce page in our Salesforce Sandbox, documentation of their efforts was key to implementation - especially given the technical-disparity between the Salesforce volunteers and HPP staff. Working with a Senior Product Manager from Salesforce, every step of the process was tracked in a shared doc:

Implementation Tracking


Upon deployment, the Volunteer Manager, Development Team, front-desk staff and volunteers needed to be trained on the new system. I created documentation and guided one-on-one instruction in the backend database changes as well as the front-end volunteer sign up and hour-logging process.




A Visualforce page was built and imbedded within the agency's website. Furthermore, the paper-log at the front desk was replaced with an additional Visualforce page where volunteers could log their volunteer hours on a tablet upon entering the building. 

Adiós paper forms!


The solution optimized the volunteer sign-up experience, saving countless staff hours.

A smooth experience conveyed HPP's credibility and efficiency to its supporters. Volunteers enjoyed every stop of the process - even the boring application part. Most importantly, it allowed volunteers to give back to their community faster than ever. 


Follow through!

Pro-bono projects are most successful when treated the same as paid gigs. Breaking off work into bite-size pieces for volunteers is not always possible, and sometimes create more work for the people you are trying to help. Our volunteer's commitment to seeing the solution through to implementation was inspiring and unprecedented, and ensured the project's success.


The ability for agency staff and Salesforce volunteers to work closely together in a Hackathon environment not only ensured that the proposed solution fit the real needs of the organization, but also made the entire process more rewarding, for all involved.