The corona crisis has sparked a desire to help others amongst the Finns. At the Finnish Red Cross, this can be seen in the number of new volunteers: In March, the organisation got 1,070 new registrations, compared to a monthly average of about 600 registered volunteers. The biggest growth can be seen in the Helsinki metropolitan area and Uusimaa. The help of volunteers is worth its weight in gold, e.g. in lending a helping hand with several tasks, such as e-services and telefriend services to people in risk groups and quarantine, who are practically unable to leave their homes.
The Red Cross now uses data analytics to get new volunteers involved more quickly in its activities and meaningful tasks.
"Already in previous years, we have found that the number of volunteers varies dramatically, as unexpected crises spark the desire to help others and the number of volunteers grows rapidly. In the midst of an acute crisis, there is a risk that volunteer efforts may be under utilised," says Marko Korhonen, Disaster Management Coordinator at the Red Cross.
New volunteers who have registered in March to April have been especially trained online for the future.
"The need for help will last a long time. We have received a large number of new, trained volunteers, which strengthens the Red Cross's readiness to help with the developing coronavirus situation and in all future societal situations," says Korhonen.
Corona crisis mobilises responsibility-bearers
The data model, which was built in cooperation with Digia, was launched just before the beginning of the corona crisis. With the new data model based on interests and skills of new registered volunteers, users are divided into four groups, with different expectations for future volunteering tasks.
As the corona crisis started to escalate, the proportion of people interested in responsibility-bearing and organisation tasks increased dramatically. In March and April, more than twice as many of these signed up, compared to before.
"These responsibility-bearers are particularly important in crises, because they are best suited to organising volunteering, for example in training," says Project Manager Tapani Tulkki from the Red Cross.
"The fact that different times get different people moving is an interesting and completely new discovery. Based on the data, it seems that different interests and expectations are highlighted during different times all year, even under normal conditions. This information helps us develop our volunteering."
The volunteer personas have been created through interviewing Red Cross experts, and verified by analysing data from the Red Cross. The modeling is based on 45 different variables.
Digital value for the corona crisis – and for Red Cross activities after the crisis
The Red Cross and Digia launched their collaboration to build a data model last autumn, when the Red Cross participated in and won Digia's Digiarvoa competition. The prize of the competition was €100,000 worth of Digia's expertise in carrying out the winning project.
"The competition looked for ideas or projects to promote Finland's digital future and societal well-being. Now that we know how the world has changed after the competition, it seems that the victory could not have gone to a better place. In practice, Digia invested €100,000 towards battling corona in today’s society," says Timo Levoranta, President and CEO of Digia.
"Digitalisation enables us to offer a larger number of people more meaningful voluntary tasks, where they can experience the joy of helping. It's a human story, but at the same time a fascinating data story," says Tapani Tulkki from the Red Cross.Visit the Oma Punainen Risti service to see your volunteer persona (in Finnish) >>
Finnish Red Cross
Marko Korhonen, Disaster Management Coordinator
Tel. +358 40 120 9728
Tapani Tulkki, Project Manager
Tel. +358 400 933 966
Sari Häkkinen, Communications Specialist
Tel. +358 40 581 0346
Päivi Karesjoki, Director, Analytics
Tel. 040 902 2212
Katri Nokkonen, Communications Manager
Tel. 040 573 1300
- Below: Volunteers joined since start of 2020. Diagram showing quantitative development of various volunteer personas during the corona crisis. Responsibility-bearers have been assigned the "Kati Ikihongatar" persona. Read more about volunteer personas in Digia's blog (in Finnish).
- In the beginning: Finnish Red Cross Volunteers at Tampere. Picture: Marjaana Malkamäki.