by JANA WILSON
Volunteers are the heart and soul of many nonprofit organizations, but sometimes even a great resource can be hard to manage. Enter Civic Champs, a Bloomington-based startup with an app that automates volunteer management.
Launched in May 2019, the company is the brainchild of CEO Geng Wang, a Harvard University MBA; Chief Operating Officer Ryan Underdahl, an Indiana University Kelley School of Business MBA graduate; and Chief Technology Officer Mike Jeffery, who holds a computer science and engineering degree from Michigan State University.
Weng says the three began developing the app after considering the difficulties local nonprofits had keeping tabs on volunteer hours. Taking a cue from games like Pokémon Go that use location tracking to complete small, easy-to-accomplish chores, they decided to pursue an idea where people could perform small volunteer actions for nonprofits and record them automatically on a mobile phone app.
But after talking with local nonprofits, Weng says they realized the problem was more complex. So, using the location tracking idea, the group created an app that allows volunteers to automatically check in when arriving at the nonprofit. That information goes into a database that organizations use to tally volunteer hours and track progress.
My Sister’s Closet, 414 S. College, was one of the nonprofits that worked with Civic Champs to develop the app.
“We have about 350 volunteers throughout the year,” says Executive Director Sandy Keller. “It’s hard to track all these masses of people coming in and out.” Before using Civic Champs, Keller says, My Sister’s Closet was trying to keep track of all of its volunteer hours manually. With only four employees, that took a huge amount of staff time, Keller says. Civic Champs has dramatically reduced staff time spent on that task.
Weng says the company currently has about 40 clients nationwide and the number is growing. Civic Champs currently offers a monthly subscription service for tracking volunteer hours and plans to expand its services to enable fundraising and mentoring tracking—all designed to help nonprofits make the most of their resources.
“It’s been a crazy ride, but a lot of fun,” Weng says. “Every small step we can take to make the effort easier, we want to do it.”
For more information, visit civicchamps.com.