Help governments deliver critical services to those who need them
We’re looking for empathetic, communicative, and organized professionals to volunteer their time to support U.S. Digital Response (USDR) projects.
Great candidates bring experiences from a variety of backgrounds, including technology, government, and communications. Above all, they take an agile, iterative approach to discovering human-centric solutions with our government partners.
Why volunteers volunteer
Create a direct impact on people's lives
USDR prioritizes work that addresses critical community needs, directly impacts the public, aligns with our key program areas, and allows us to partner directly with the service provider.
Leverage your skills to address today’s critical needs
If you would like to use your technology skills to improve government, USDR offers a direct path to participate & contribute to urgent and impactful work.
Work alongside government experts in civic tech
For those exploring work in the public sector, USDR projects are an amazing way to get involved, meet people, and get a sense of how your skills can contribute.
Be part of a community that’s building something bigger
Each USDR project is an opportunity to discover human-centric solutions alongside our government partners. Our community works to build something bigger and lasting as we earn trust through the work we deliver.
Research conducted by USDR, including 2600 website survey responses, 4500 call center calls, and 10 in-depth interviews with individual claimants, found that a majority of users could not find the information they needed on the Pennsylvania unemployment compensation website.
USDR’s final report, Unemployment Claimant Research Findings, shared actionable insights. The team also developed plain language guidelines and example wireframes.
USDR believes in user-centered design and modular, incremental delivery of innovation. Many of the recommendations were implemented immediately, improving the user experience today, rather than requiring claimants to wait for a months-long website overhaul.
In early 2021, the Memphis and Shelby County Emergency Rental Assistance (MSCERA) coalition needed to quickly scale its program in order to keep families in their homes.
USDR volunteers worked with the team to understand their workflows and built a scalable system that leverages several low-cost software solutions.
Since launching the new system on March 1, 2021, the MSCERA team has received more than 7500 applications and distributed $13.7 million in assistance.
Volunteers on volunteering
What we’re looking for
We’re looking for volunteers across disciplines, including but not limited to:
- user experience design
- user research
- software engineering
- product management
- content strategy
- translation and transcreation
Great candidates are experienced in their field and have worked with or adjacent to technology. They are empathetic, able to work in ambiguous situations, and great communicators. No matter their field, they take a human-centric approach to discovering solutions alongside our government partners.
Volunteers who are able to commit at least 10 hours per week with some daytime availability are typically best suited to support our work. Many projects have volunteers involved for about two months, though this can vary. If you have less time, we still encourage you to apply as opportunities arise periodically.
We reach out to folks who have filled out our handraiser form when we have a project that matches their skills, experience level, and current availability.
Frequently asked questions
Is this a paid opportunity?
No. This is a volunteer opportunity. We’re looking for experienced professionals who are able to volunteer their time to this effort.
Who are the USDR partners that volunteers help support?
USDR partners are governments and nongovernmental organizations working to deliver critical services to the people that need them. We also have volunteers who help support internal USDR operations.
How does USDR vet volunteers?
Volunteers submit an application that is reviewed by the USDR team for skills, experience level, and availability. If we believe you could be a good fit for an open project role, we’ll reach out to arrange a screening call to discuss your specific qualifications, interest, availability, and overall fit for USDR volunteering.
Am I guaranteed a project or volunteering opportunity?
No. We carefully assess the needs of our partners and match handraisers with projects based on their availability, experience, and skill. We’ll reach out if we find a great match for you.
When will I hear back?
We will reach out to volunteers as we find matching projects. In the meantime, stay connected with USDR’s social channels for our latest organization updates.
Do I get to pick my project?
We’ll connect you to projects that could be a great fit. You’ll be able to confirm your interest in the project before jumping in to help.
How long will a project last?
Individual projects can last from two weeks to several months, though you may have the opportunity to volunteer for a longer stint or additional projects. Typically projects last about 2 months. When we reach out about a particular project, we’ll share information about the expected duration.
How will I be supported while on a project?
USDR scopes project deliverables alongside partners and matches volunteers to meet project needs. Volunteers and the partner collaborate to manage and execute on the project with support from USDR resources and the USDR community.
How does USDR choose projects & what they work on?
USDR prioritizes work that addresses critical community-facing needs and delivers direct impact to the people our partners serve. We align our work with our program focus areas and work directly with partners to scope out projects we’re confident we’ll be able to deliver on.
Are all volunteering roles working directly with government & NGOs?
In addition to opportunities to volunteer on partner projects, there are internal volunteer roles that help support USDR operations. Internal volunteers might put their skills to use scoping partner projects, interviewing fellow volunteers, or telling impact stories about the work being delivered.
Can I volunteer my whole team, organization, or company?
We invite any interested team members to volunteer as individuals. Please indicate your organization affiliation on the signup form.
Am I employed by USDR or the partner organization you are supporting?
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.
Who will see my data?
Your data will only be shared with team members and project partners when required to facilitate placement on a project. Read more in our Data and Software Guidelines.
Where will I work?
If you are assigned to a project, you’ll work remotely with a state or local government agency, a public interest organization, or the USDR team.
Read our Volunteer Oath and join one of our information sessions (all sessions are at 11 AM PT / 2 PM):
- Feb 10, 2023
- Mar 10, 2023
- Apr 7, 2023
- May 5, 2023
- Jun 9, 2023
- Jul 14, 2023
- Aug 11, 2023
- Sep 8, 2023
- Oct 6, 2023
- Nov 3, 2023
- Dec 1, 2023
You can register for any of these sessions or watch a recording of a past Volunteer Info Session.