Hourglass: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Hourglass?

Hourglass is a free platform that connects innovators, specialists and experts directly to decision-makers in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) who are tackling real strategic issues. We hope that by connecting people we will unlock new ideas, perspectives, and partnerships. It is a way to share knowledge, skills, and advice.

People donate one hour of their time. They are then matched with someone in the IFRC who would benefit from their advice. Once connected, the pair can arrange the meeting in any way that suits them. It is a private, confidential call.

1. Is Hourglass really free?

Yes. Hourglass was created with the idea of rethinking volunteering as a powerful force for growth and development, that continues to drive change in communities around the world and provide a means for people to have a voice and active role in development processes.

We believe in the power of networks, new perspectives and we are convinced that there are many people inside and outside the IFRC network who have bright ideas, insight, and the desire to help solve humanitarian crises.

2. Who can submit a question?

Any member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and National Societies can ask for help.

Hourglass is for people who are looking for a specialized advice and new ideas. It can help you generate new perspectives on strategic challenges, discover new options for ongoing projects, and examine burning issues and questions about the future.

Anyone can ask a question, but we ask that they are related to a real priority, project or challenge, rather than general interest queries.

3. Who will answer my question? When should I submit my question?

Questions can be asked at any time. Our team will then look for a suitable expert and get back to you as soon as they can.

4. My question has been submitted, but I have some data or information to add. What should I do?

You should contact the Solferino Academy team at [email protected] as soon as possible.

5. What happens once I have submitted my question?

Based on the question and the area of focus, our team will link you to the most appropriate expert. The pair are introduced via email and then organize their own meeting to examine the burning question.

6. The expert I was introduced to never responded. What should I do?

We understand that sometimes life gets in the way. Let us know and we’ll introduce you to someone else!  [email protected]

7. What can I ask a question about?

Our network work across many different specialisms and industries but they all have skills and experience with innovation, futures and/or strategic foresight.

You can ask questions about how to use these specialisms to help your work, but please focus them on a live project or pressing strategic challenge you would like help with.

We are  particularly focused on the following key trends and have people with deep experience in each area:

  • Innovation
  • Futures/foresight
  • Leadership
  • Organisational cultures, systems and change

8. I asked a question on Hourglass, but I’d like a second opinion. What should I do and how can you help?

If you would like a second opinion, we invite you to resubmit your question. Our team will then link you to another expert.

Donating your time as an innovator, specialist or expert

9. I’d like to sign up to help on Hourglass but am I enough of an expert?

Don’t worry! We value differences in knowledge, perspectives and experience. We always try to match you according to your experience.

10. How should I structure my call?

Feel free to structure the call as you see fit. Bear in mind that members who contact you benefit from almost all forms of external advice, so you can’t go wrong.

11. Can I ask for extra information before that call?

To better understand the member’s question or to gather information for the meeting, please feel free to ask the member a few questions by email.

12. I signed ages ago as an expert and haven’t been contacted. What’s up?

Huge apologies! This doesn’t mean that you are not appreciated. We are afraid that some experts have signed up and never been introduced to anyone. We will keep looking for the perfect introduction and will be in touch as soon as we can.

13. Will I be paid for my time?

We cannot currently pay people for their time. We encourage people to donate one hour to the Red Cross movement.

Volunteerism is a core humanitarian principle, and we believe in the power of volunteering to change the world.

However, we are also aware that it can sometimes be hard to share your time for free. We plan to re-examine this policy in the future to see if there are other ways we can support more people with valuable ideas and experience to contribute to this network.

The Future

14. How will Hourglass develop?

We hope that this will become a useful network for the whole humanitarian sector, and for those in other sectors who offer their skills, experience and time.

We are currently experimenting with the platform and learning from the meetings we help to arrange between people. We welcome all feedback and thoughts via [email protected]

When we have updated Hourglass based on this feedback, we hope to make it available to more people. Watch this space!