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Case Study

Transforming the Volunteer Experience: A Case Study with the Indiana Region of the American Red Cross



The Indiana Region of the American Red Cross, a volunteer-led organization, faced a pressing challenge – a significant portion of their volunteer base was on the verge of aging out, necessitating the recruitment of a younger generation of volunteers.

Additionally, they recognized the need for new skills and innovative ways of working to foster action-based design thinking capabilities within their organization. This case study highlights how Collabo XD, through project-based design thinking and people-centered design training, helped the Volunteer Services team address these challenges and improve the volunteer experience. 

Challenges and Opportunities

Aging Volunteer Staff: The organization’s primary challenge was the impending departure of a substantial portion of its volunteer workforce due to retirement.

‘In-the-Box’ Thinking: The organization was struggling with traditional thinking patterns, hindering their ability to adapt to evolving volunteer needs and expectations.

The Collaborative Approach: How might we improve Indiana’s American Red Cross volunteer experience?

Collabo XD was enlisted to provide project-based design thinking and people-centered design training to the Volunteer Services team. The primary goal was to use the current volunteer on-boarding process as a context for project-based training, fostering innovation and adaptability.

Tasks Undertaken

Bi-Weekly Training Sessions: Collabo initiated bi-weekly training sessions for the Volunteer Services team to instill design thinking principles and methodologies. These sessions encouraged a more creative and open-minded approach to problem-solving.

On-Call Support: Continuous support and guidance were provided to the team to address any challenges or questions that arose during the training process.

Custom Design Thinking Curriculum: Collabo tailored a design thinking curriculum to the specific needs of the American Red Cross, ensuring that the training aligned with their organizational objectives and volunteer experience improvement goals.

Impact Achieved

The collaboration between Collabo and the American Red Cross Volunteer Services team yielded significant positive outcomes:

40% Increase in Volunteer On-boarding: The revamped volunteer on-boarding process, informed by design thinking principles, led to a substantial 40% increase in the number of volunteers successfully integrated into the organization.

98% Volunteer Experience Satisfaction: Volunteers’ satisfaction with their experience within the organization skyrocketed to an impressive 98%. The newly acquired skills and people-centered approach positively impacted their experience.


By embracing a forward-thinking approach and incorporating design thinking principles into their volunteer on-boarding process, the Indiana Region of the American Red Cross successfully addressed the challenges posed by an aging volunteer base. Through the collaboration with Collabo, the organization not only attracted a new generation of volunteers but also equipped their team with valuable skills to provide a more people-centered and satisfying volunteer experience. This case study underscores the importance of innovation and adaptability in ensuring the longevity and effectiveness of volunteer-led organizations.

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