A New Way to Match Nonprofits With Skilled Volunteers

Professional volunteering is not new. In fact, it fits a fairly classic strategy for people looking for meaning in their life: Go to work, go home, do something that makes an impact, and then go to work again. Volunteering is needed, it's important and, if done right, it can have a big impact.

The problem is that most professionals are stuck behind client relationships, deadlines, and the pressures of delivering that next mock up or strategy. The thought of wading into an unstructured, disorganized, and possibly unproductive volunteer opportunity simply is not high on the list.

Rachael Chong, an ex-investment banker and the founder of a new startup tackling this issue, explains: “I was lugging around a piece of wood the size of my body on a day-long build and I thought, ‘Why can’t I volunteer at what I’m good at?’" The result? Catchafire, which helps professionals go beyond the sorting, shuffling and lugging that typifies classic volunteering.

Catchafire acts as a buffer between the nonprofit world and the demands of corporate jobs, functioning essentially as your account manager for volunteering: It matches you with a client, and sets the parameters of how you work, the time you should allocate, and the deliverables for the project.

The client (nonprofits) decides what they are looking for and work with Catchafire to come up with a strategy. Catchafire makes the match and ensures that you (the professional) have the two to three years experience necessary to carry out the project and actually follow through. In the end, both parties win. No more ambiguity, ill-defined projects, or fumbling conversations.

The Catchafire model is the latest attempt at cracking the volunteer match space and it will be exciting to see how it works. It has recently launched its website and will be holding a party at Collab, a shared innovation space in Manhattan on June 28 to launch its first 50 project matches which represents the equivalent of over 200,000 volunteer hours and $300,000 in services. You can find out more information on the event and register to attend here.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user San Jose Library

Julian Meehan

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