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  • Case Study

The Vancouver Dodgeball League

Powering Growth: the Vancouver Dodgeball League began in 2005 as a small but scrappy nonprofit with only six players, a university gym, and lots of welts.

With dreams to go international, they turned to the social innovation software that scales nonprofits and businesses of every size—Kindling.

In the first few months of expansion, VDL’s executive team quickly found email discussions insufficient to share ideation and manage big strategies and ideas for the sport of kings.

“We had to be united,” says Bao. “Email is good for quick communi- cation, but for ideas, it has to be Kindling. We share our ideas across chapters, and every executive director is connected to Kindling. Any- one can jump in and use it – you don’t have to be tech savvy to use a simple communication tool like this.”

Today, the VDL is an organizing body in the International Dodgeball Association (IDA), a network of local leagues connected and grown in a social innovation community powered by Kindling. From their underdog beginnings, they’ve since grown to a network of more than 2,000 participants, and Kindling is the bridge connecting them all.

Innovating in a Diffuse Organization

Working internationally, Kindling’s multi-language support is crucial to fostering communication between countries. But it’s Kindling’s functionality as an auxiliary to institutional memory that has offered VDL/ IDA its greatest return on investment.

“One nice thing about Kindling is that it remains as an integrated tool, and allows us to keep the past with us. We are a volunteer-driven organization, and have to deal with turnover,” says Bao. “If we were doing things the old way, all of our previous ideas, all of our conversations, would be on email, and it all would be lost when staff turned over. Because of Kindling, we’re able to maintain that institutional knowledge. If something has already been discussed, the thread is there and we have a full understanding of where we’re at. It cuts orientation time and keeps threads alive.”

Kindling is the metaphorical red utility ball that allows organizations to peg implementable innovations in the crowd of brilliant ideas they come from. It provides traction to the elect projects, with expert Assessments that allow project principals and specialists to make high-level decisions. Easy Categorization and customizable Workflow keep the second and third-tier ideas on the sidelines, but organized and part of the conversation.

For a highly-networked organization such as VDL/IDA, with a broad base of participants and relatively small core of administrators, Kindling’s many methods for filtering ideas are invaluable. Voting allows the best ideas to stand out. Robust signal-to-noise keeps admins apprised of all (but only) the most relevant developments in their areas.

“Conversation forums, recommendations, having people contribute by bumping ideas up—stuff like that mattered a lot to us,” says Bao. The Vancouver Dodgeball League and International Dodgeball Association are growing fast. In the first year of existence, the Kindling supported IDA grew 200%. And with the goal of bringing dodgeball to any community in any place, there’s little chance of it being tagged out any time soon. No matter how large the Vancouver Dodgeball League and International Dodgeball Association grow, Kindling will be there to help them share their conversations across town and all over the globe.