Discover an array of volunteer opportunities at your fingertips with the Cluster app
By Holly Jenvey
As the world is in a vulnerable state, the need for volunteers continues to grow. According to Philanthropy News Digest, the value of volunteering rose 7% in 2019, with more than 6 billion volunteer hours logged. Cluster is a new app that helps millennials and Generation Z find opportunities to help their community and connect with others that share similar interests.
“I’ve always liked giving back, I just always found it really hard to do,” said CR Celona, founder and CEO of Cluster.
Celona developed the app to provide volunteer opportunities in an accessible way. Cluster launched in January after being in beta mode since 2016. With the app, users can sync their social media channels and explore volunteer opportunities in their community or virtually.
The idea was sparked by Celona’s desire to help others. He drew on an experience when traveling with his wife, wondering what to do during their downtime. Celona wanted to interact with locals, but didn’t have the tools to do so. This made him question why he couldn’t give back to the community when he wanted to.
“If no one’s going to build this cool idea of like an Uber for volunteering or an easier way of volunteering, then I’m going to build it,” Celona said.
Notable advisers and creators for the app include actor Taye Diggs, film and TV producer Chris Bender, and screenwriter and TV producer Tim Kring. Cluster’s launch partners include VolunteerMatch, the city of San Antonio and the financial firm Aspiration.
In addition, Celona wanted to give brands, nonprofits, and creators and ambassadors ways to spread their desire for social change to a broader audience.
“Cluster can represent for a lot of people and will in the months to come this liaison into a new world, like a world that has fulfillment as its commodity and kindness as its currency,” Celona said.
With a simple touch of their phone screen, users can access local activities via an interactive map, see the events friends are attending and be able to join as well. They can also share the events they’re attending and what they’re up to as it connects to all of the social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and LinkedIn.
Aside from connecting with others by syncing up social media channels, there is also in-app communication. And good deeds do go a long way — Cluster provides badge shares from social media, and a leaderboard and award system to recognize the work that users are putting in.
Brands can use the app to connect with nonprofit organizations to leverage connectivity in discussing social impact causes and influencers. Like brands, nonprofits will have more exposure, get to interact with new activists and supporters, and can be shared across multiple social channels. They will also be able to host events in-app, where they can add co-hosts and organizers to help with event management.
Volunteers can easily find nonprofit events on the interactive map, and events are easy to run as the functions of social sharing and pin dropping are provided. Nonprofits can also see more engagement with gamification and a leaderboard and award system.
Creators and ambassadors will enjoy the opportunity of being part of something beyond a branded partnership and can participate in partnerships that will have a social impact.
“It was a lot of hard work,” Celona said. “My engineers and I have been working crazy hours to get it done. We just put all this blood, sweat and tears into it. Now we’ll have the right first step this month to start this process and make this dream much more of a reality.”
Cluster is also ensuring that all activities are safe amid the pandemic. As well as increased virtual events, they are making sure their partners and the volunteering opportunities abide by COVID-19 guidelines, which include proper PPE and social distancing, or helping partners transition to virtual events.
Celona mentioned blood drives as an example of helping these organizations schedule time slots for appointments as opposed to people coming in at random. He noted that people can show respect while pursuing these opportunities by wearing a mask and following guidelines.
“It’s all about getting people to think bigger than themselves,” he said.
Celona also pointed out that during these current times while people are staying at home, the need to connect is more prevalent. He hopes the youth of America will begin to be heard and spark social movements through volunteering.
“People are about the cause, not about the baggage,” Celona said.
Cluster is available on the Google Play Store and the Apple Store. For more information, visit wearecluster.com