Ben Minson, a senior technical writer within the ICS department, was recently approached with a big project that he knew he couldn't complete alone within the project's budget or time frame. It was at that point he turned to the LDSTech community of volunteers for help.
“We had a group of ten volunteers who actively participated and completed tasks on the LDS Account Help project,” Ben said. “It involved getting the initial set of knowledge-base articles used by the Global Service Center (the Church’s IT support) into a help format that the general public could understand and use. It saved effort, time, and money to have volunteers go through and test the different answers and solutions in each article and update them for the next version of LDS Account.”
The LDS Account Help project team worked on improving documentation and help materials for LDS Account.
One volunteer on the project was Anna-Marie Robertson, from Rigby, Idaho, who felt the project offered a good opportunity to serve, especially since the project interested her and connected with her writing skills. She also enjoyed working with knowledgeable, like-minded people.
“Ever since the LDSTech Conference in March, I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer on this project and assist in doing some technical writing,” Anna-Marie said. “I also developed other important skills, such as searching for errors within a system, while serving with a team of smart individuals.”
Although the project went well and the volunteers were eager to assist in any way they could, this project, like many other projects, also came with its share of challenges.
“One of the main challenges I encountered as a volunteer was understanding what I was supposed to be doing by trial-and-error,” Anna-Marie said. “But as I went along and the project began to progress, I began to be more comfortable and didn’t feel as lost in regards to assignments. Ben was another big help; he was so patient and understanding.”
“Probably the biggest challenge for me was learning how to lead an LDSTech project for the first time,” Ben said. “The volunteers were patient and understanding, though. They were also asking questions to better understand my directions, which allowed me to see where I wasn’t being as clear as I wanted.”
As a volunteer, Anna-Marie received an opportunity to take part in something that normal members don’t get to see.
“I was privileged to have a behind-the-scenes view of some of the Church’s websites,” Anna-Marie said. “We were able to see the new website that has not yet been released to the public, and that was an exciting opportunity. It was also nice to be part of a project where I learned more about how to take advantage of parts of the website I wasn’t even aware of before.”
Ben also had a positive experience as a project lead over volunteers.
“This was a good learning experience,” said Ben. “The next time around, I’ll have a better idea of how to organize the volunteer's efforts."
Ben is one of many ICS project leaders who have begun to use LDSTech community volunteers in their projects. As with any new effort, integrating employees and volunteers together on projects can be a challenge. However, once you find a method that works, the benefits of volunteer assistance help to speed a project along and reduce the workload in significant ways.
If you’re looking to engage volunteers, or to involve Church service missionaries on your project, contact Elder David Sierakowski at
If you’re a volunteer looking to get involved in a project, see the Community Project Handbook's information on how to join a project. Projects can involve different types of work and skillsets. There's enough variety that projects can accommodate someone with little or no technical skills to someone with advanced development experience.