The German Reading Foundation (Stiftung Lesen) is a Mainz-based organization that acts as an advocate for reading and media competency to ensure that every child and adult in Germany develops crucial reading and media skills, and enjoys reading. The organization was one of the several NGOs that worked together with Scout24 during the company’s first Social Hack Days in which our Scouts got out of their comfort zone and hacked for a good cause. We sat down with Dr. Sigrid Fahrer, the organization’s Head of Digital Strategy, to talk about the results of the collaboration and why it was beneficial for both sides. The German version of the interview can be found here.
Why did you decide to be part of Scout24’s Social Hack Days?
Sigrid: This was a great opportunity for us to get help with our problems as we are working on our digital strategy at the moment. Scout24 is a well-known tech company and we knew that there is a lot of IT knowledge and that’s why we decided to take you up on the very generous offer to be part of the Social Hack Days.
So this is actually the first time for you to take part in Social Hack Days or any Hack Days?
Sigrid: Yes, this was the first time we ever took part in any hack days. So this has been a very great experience for us because the results were amazing and helpful for our work and everything was done within three days.
How was the collaboration between you and the Hack Team? How did the collaboration process go?
Sigrid: At the beginning we had a video telephone call with the Scout24 hack team since we are based in Mainz. During the call we explained what kind of ideas and solutions we’d like to have the team’s opinion on. We also communicated via e-mails and telephone calls between with the Scout24 team. During the demo session of the Hack Days we finally met each other in person.
What were the results of the collaboration? Which kind of issues did you work on?
Sigrid: There were two issues. First, we wanted to optimize our matching platform that connects volunteers with reading initiatives. The team came up with a great idea on how to present our reading initiatives in detail. This way the prospective volunteers can gain more insights into each institution and add their special interests in reading aloud to e.g. kids, senior citizens and state their reading experience. As a result, we can now provide the reading initiatives with more details about the volunteers.
For the second task we asked for help to optimize our search tool. We have a lot of reading material and tips for teachers, kindergarten educators and also families. However, we only had a limited way of searching on our website for those materials. The Scout24 hack team developed a search engine prototype with which all the materials can be searched for in a simple way. The team also advised us how to implement this new feature.
Will the two features be implemented soon or are they already online?
Sigrid: The Scout24 team provided us with the presentation and their final thoughts. So the next step is then on our side: We have to discuss with our agency how we can implement it and whether or not we have to make changes on the website.
Our Hack Days are a good opportunity for our Scouts to “help the brain get out of its comfort zone and maybe sparkle really new ideas“ and this time they did it for a good cause and could learn more about the work of NGOs. What about you? Did you also learn something from the Hack Days?
Sigrid: Yes, of course. Not only did we learn how to improve our services but also about how to work together with programmers and digital innovators. The way Scout24 thinks and works is very unique. Employees are allowed to invest their time in activities not related to their day to day work but still involve their professional skills. It’s a very impressive way to give back to society as a company and it was also really nice seeing how interested and helpful your colleagues were.