Recruit and involve volunteers more rapidly: Charity improves its process with Minitab

Created right after World War II, the Secours Populaire Français charity fights against poverty and helps people whose circumstances are precarious, both in France and elsewhere.

A volunteer screening process helps the organization fulfill its mission by identifying the best applicants. The volunteers come from all walks of life, including students, the employed and unemployed, and retirees. All volunteers invest their time and individual skills in running the charity’s activities. Volunteers with the Paris chapter (known as SPF75) commit to regular involvement in activities run by 11 local committees, or on an ad hoc basis for national projects.

The Challenge

When a potential volunteer applied for SPF75, the initial response took an average of 10 days. Volunteers who were accepted faced a further delay of up to 2 months before they were assigned to a project. These delays contributed to the loss of up to 50 percent of candidates, and damaged the reputation of SPF75.

Figure 1: Volunteer from the Secours Populaire Français taking care of a group of children for an activity organized by the charity.

In response, five Secours Populaire Français Paris committee members decided to reduce these delays using the Lean Six Sigma methodology. They followed the well-known DMAIC process:

  • Define the project scope and problem statement
  • Measure the baseline
  • Analyze the measurements of key process variables
  • Improve the process and test solutions
  • Control the implemented solution and sustain the improvement

How Minitab Helped

An initial process map, input from internal and external customers, and the identification of non-value-added steps helped the team select the variables they needed to measure. These variables included the number of volunteer applications, the number of applicants accepted, the response time for each candidate, and the number of new volunteers eventually involved in an activity.

The data they collected enabled the team to identify potential causes for long delays and loss of candidates, including unattractive documents, incorrect data entry or loss of data, multiple databases, unnecessary steps in the process, and lack of staff.

Figure 2: Volunteer from the Secours Populaire Français taking care of a group of children for an activity organized by the charity.

The Lean Six Sigma project team included volunteer Nicolas Raynal; Kadija Akayad, the SPF75 employee in charge of volunteers; and Natacha Rebsomen, Agathe Bouffet, and Sandra Dao, who worked on the project as part of a Lean Six Sigma project management course.

Team members Agathe Bouffet(L) and Sandra Dao

“Part of the Lean Six Sigma methodology is statistical analysis of the process and its variation,” says Rebsomen, who is currently earning her Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. “For this part of our project, we used Minitab to calculate means, track variability, create histograms, and understand our data thanks to descriptive statistics. In addition, we have been able to represent the process behavior graphically with X-Bar and S-charts and capability studies.”

The team’s statistical analysis of expected costs and savings for each of 11 proposed solutions to their recruitment challenge helped the team prioritize and select the six best ideas to apply in order to reach the quality target.

Figure 3: Pareto Chart of suggested solutions


Since implementing the solutions, waiting times for candidates and for volunteers to join a team have been reduced by 50 percent. New candidates become active volunteers more rapidly, and they take part in activities that better match their expectations and make the most of their individual skills. The improvement in volunteer recruitment and integration processes helps both those in charge of candidates and the volunteers themselves follow up on their daily tasks more efficiently.

Nicolas Raynal adds, “There is no doubt we will be able to optimize the use of Minitab Statistical Software for other priority projects within our charity.”


Secours Populaire Français Paris committee


  • French charity created in 1945
  • Paris committee, nicknamed SPF75, helps Parisians with 3,000 volunteers through educational activities and social aid scheduled by 11 local committees.


Delays in processing potential volunteers and in assigning them to operational teams resulted in volunteer dissatisfaction, and in some cases, withdrawal from the program.


Minitab® Statistical Software


  • Waiting times for new volunteeers have been cut in half.