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Dr Roxane Foulser-Piggott and Dr Gary Bowman. Photo: Supplied

Taking the hassle out of volunteering with FreddyMatch

James O’Callaghan meets a Gold Coast couple who have turned an idea of developing an easy way to find volunteering opportunities into reality.

Volunteering is something most people think of doing from time to time. But in many instances, the time and effort required to find an organisation with a suitable opportunity means that volunteering gets thrown into the “too hard basket”.

But FreddyMatch, an online platform launched this month, aims to remove this obstacle by matching organisations and volunteers based on their unique interests, skill sets, location and availability.

FreddyMatch, part of the Freddy Bear Foundation, was formed by Gold Coast couple Dr Roxane Foulser-Piggott and Dr Gary Bowman after they suffered the tragic loss of their son who passed away aged 16 days in June 2017.

As part of their grieving process Roxane and Gary wanted to do some volunteering that used their specific skills but found identifying opportunities was not as easy as it should be.

According to Roxane, FreddyMatch started initially as a conversation as they struggled to find volunteering opportunities.

“We thought it would be great if there was a way that you could match what your skills and interests are with the opportunities that exist,” says Roxane. “Gary suggested that I do that myself instead. Slowly over the past two and a half years we have managed to grow this idea but when I was made redundant in July 2020 I saw this as an opportunity to throw myself into FreddyMatch and get it off the ground.”

Generally, coming up with an idea like this is easy but the execution is much more difficult. But according to Gary, they have been able to bring Roxane’s unique skill set and background in data analytics to the table.   

“Roxane spent a few days looking at algorithms and codes used by organisations like Netflix and quickly identified that it was achievable,” says Gary.

Gary says the aim of the platform is to reduce the friction involved with volunteering: “People don’t want to waste all of their time finding opportunities; if it is a five-minute process, then someone is much more likely to be involved,” says Gary.

The FreddyMatch platform has opportunities for all but Roxanne is particularly encouraging younger people to get involved.

“We are focusing on high school students through to those in their mid-30’s,” says Roxane. “We are encouraging organisations to tailor opportunities for younger people.”

FreddyMatch has a simple process for both organisations and volunteers to register and for organisations to list opportunities.

For more information or to list or search volunteering opportunities, visit the FreddyMatch website.

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