With the endless possibilities of time, talent and treasure, people are giving back to the world around them in so many different ways it’s staggering.
Thanks to the internet and other modern technologies, that list is growing longer and more diverse every day, especially within the volunteer community.
Of course, a virtually-sourced volunteer corps is not a new concept in and of itself.
VolunteerMatch.org, for example, has been using the web to connect causes with volunteers since 1998.
And there’s always the virtual-DIY approach, like posting volunteer needs on Craigslist, or building your organization’s own social-media ambassador program.
In recent years, though, a new volunteer trend has been gaining popularity: websites that match skilled professionals with specific nonprofit projects, especially short-term and virtual projects.
Does your nonprofit need a new logo design? Feedback on a grant application? A Spanish translation of your brochure?
If you’ve got a specific, skills-based, short-term project (i.e. requiring 25 hours or fewer), one of these matching websites could find you a volunteer with just the right talents.
Be aware, however, that while there are a lot of volunteer-matching websites and services out there, the following are geared toward connections with skilled professionals, focus on short-term projects and are available nationwide for free.
Sparked.com calls itself “the world’s first microvolunteering network.” All submitted projects must be limited to a very specific task, preferably something that can be completed remotely and in one sitting.
Also, it’s not a one-on-one match. In true crowdsourcing style, Sparked is like a free Crowdspring for small nonprofit projects. Your project may receive multiple solutions, and you’ll work within this volunteer pool to achieve the final result.
Sparked features a wide range of skilled volunteers, from designers to fundraisers to HR professionals.
Examples of successful Sparked projects can be viewed on the organization’s website.
The Community Corps
Whether because of time, knowledge or funding, 40 percent of U.S. nonprofits are struggling to keep up with the technology they need.
The Community Corps is on a mission to fill in those IT gaps via professionals who can help with social media, system networking, website development and more.
Not even sure where to start? The Corps can hook you up with a technology advisor to determine your needs and goals.
The Community Corps allows for both virtual and in-person IT needs, and project lengths typically range from 2 to 25 hours. Nonprofit EIN required.
Examples of successful Community Corps projects are available on the organization’s website.
This self-guided service allows you to send targeted project alerts to any number of nearly 2,300 women professionals, based on the skills required by your specific project.
WomenOnCall.org encourages virtual volunteering and emphasizes projects that make the most of one hour’s time (though in-person and somewhat longer-length projects are also allowed). Nonprofit EIN required.
Success stories are available online.
And don’t forget, the internet can help with “in real life” volunteering, too.
The web also is home to more traditional volunteer matching services, used for longer-term, in-person and relationship-based opportunities.
Melinda McKee is public relations and communications director for NCGives. She also publishes at TechforHippies.com.