Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs for Governments

How many pro bono technologists are available to help and what skills do they have?​

We currently have over 5,400 volunteer technologists who have raised their hands to help. The skills range across all technology roles imaginable from mainframe engineers to graphic designers, from data analysts to content strategists.

How do I request a volunteer?

Fill out this form and share as much information as possible about the problem you are trying to solve and the support you think you need.

Where are volunteers located?

We have volunteers all over the U.S. and hope to help as many state and local governments as possible. If you would prefer a volunteer located in your state or region, just let us know and we’ll do our best to match with someone nearby.

When will we get a volunteer?

We respond to requests as quickly as possible. Our team will reach out within 24 hours to schedule an intake call and often places volunteers in a matter of days.

What is the availability of a volunteer? How do I know they will stay on my project and not leave at any time?

We work to place volunteers that match the availability required for the project to be successful. We have volunteers available from 5 to 40 hours per week. The more clarity there is at the length of a project allows us to find volunteers that can commit to that time frame. Still, life happens and some volunteers may find a job during their engagement. If that happens, we work closely with the volunteer and government to quickly place a new volunteer and ensure there is a smooth transition.

Do we need to pay volunteers or provide equipment?

No. Volunteers are offering their time pro bono and should have the basic equipment needed to assist with your tasks.

Who manages the project?

You and the volunteer are responsible for managing the project. We will connect you with skilled volunteers, but the success of the project depends on your direct collaboration.

Can I request a whole team?

Yes.

Do volunteers sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)? How do they handle access to sensitive information?

Our USDR policies and volunteer oath asks that volunteers follow security and privacy best practices and not speak publicly about projects unless our partners give them permission to do so. If a government has more restrictions, it is best if the government makes that ask directly with the volunteer. We ask that volunteers share any proposed NDAs with the USDR Team, and they have completed NDAs for specific projects that require them.

What is the volunteer matching process?

Our Volunteers Team interviews each volunteer before they are placed. In addition to confirming their skillset, we also look for comfort with ambiguity, an ability to work autonomously, solid communication skills, and a low ego. Our goal is to find the best volunteer for your specific project.

FAQs for volunteers

Is this a paid opportunity?

No. This is a volunteer opportunity. We’re asking for experienced professionals who are able to volunteer their time to this effort.

Am I employed by USDR or my potential placement organization?

No. This is a volunteer opportunity. Your status as a volunteer is not a step toward obtaining employment with USDR or the organization you’re partnering with.

What should a volunteer do if something goes wrong with the project, or I need support?

If issues arise with your project, let us know as soon as possible by reaching out to any USDR team member or contact us at [email protected].

Who will see my data?

Your data will only be shared with team members and project partners when required to facilitate placement. Read more in our Data and Software Guidelines.

Am I guaranteed a placement?

No. We are carefully assessing the needs of local governments and matching applicants with local governments based on experience and skill. We’ll reach out if we find a great placement for you.

Can I volunteer my whole team, organization, or company?

We invite any interested team members to volunteer as individuals. Please mark your affiliation with your organization on the signup form.

Should I take a leave from my current job?

In your application, you will be asked for your availability and we use that information in assessing matches. For significant projects, volunteers should be prepared to dedicate a significant amount of their work time to the government placement. How much time you devote to this work is a personal decision; we cannot guarantee how long these placements will last.

Who requests volunteers?

Anyone in governments working to address the COVID-19 crisis can request to work with volunteers. Non-governmental organizations can also apply as long as their work directly addresses the immediate crisis.

How does USDR vet volunteers?

Volunteers submit an application that is reviewed by the USDR team for skills and commitment. If we believe the applicant could be a good fit for a placement, we conduct a screening call where we discuss their specific qualifications, interest, and availability.

Who manages the projects?

The volunteer and the partner are responsible for managing the project. We connect volunteers with governments who need help, but the success of the project depends on their direct collaboration.

Where will I work?

If you’re selected for a placement, you’ll work with a state or local government agency. We may also offer opportunities to work with public interest organizations. With #StayHome orders in place for most states, you will most likely be working remotely.

When will I hear back?

We’re doing our best to match you and will reach out to volunteers as we find matching projects for you. In the meantime, please continue to volunteer in other ways. Find more local opportunities via this Database of Localized Resources and Mutual Aid Hub.

How long will placements be?

Placements can be as short as two weeks to several months in length. When we reach out about a placement on a particular project, we’ll share more information around the expected length of project.

Tell us about the challenges you’re facing. We’ll get back to you within hours.

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