Did you just graduate college and are struggling as you look for a job? Or perhaps you recently acquired new skills and are ready to put them to use. While you may have the necessary skills for jobs you apply for, some businesses just won’t give you a chance. Many want experienced professionals, but how do you gain experience if no one will hire you? This is where volunteering can come into play. Volunteering your time and skills may not be your first choice because it means you aren’t likely to get paid. However, the benefits from volunteering can help you more than you might expect.
Now online platforms have made it easier than ever to volunteer your skills with organizations. You may have heard of companies such as Causecast, Taproot+, npower, or VolunteerMatch. One online service, called Catchafire seems to be gaining a lot of attention. What is this volunteer service?
Catchafire is a marketplace that connects skilled professionals with nonprofit organizations. It combines talent and purpose. Some might even call Catchafire a matchmaking service for nonprofits. The service matches skills, interests and availability with professionals to volunteer. Catchafire understands how busy we are today and wanted to create a service that would be easy for professionals to volunteer their time online.
Rachael Chong is an entrepreneur and former investment banker that founded Catchafire in 2009. She founded Catchafire while working on her thesis at Duke University. After launching in 2010, it has become one of the largest volunteer platforms with over 30,000 active professionals. Catchafire is not a nonprofit business but is a Certified B Corporation. B Corporations are required to meet rigorous standards of social, environmental performance, accountability and transparency.
What do you care about? What are you good at?
Are you a professional looking to share your skills for the greater good? Catchafire is free for professionals to utilize. You can find short-term projects on their website to volunteer your time. You can easily filter the types of projects and skills you have. Whether you are good at branding, finance, social media, or web design, you are bound to find a project that matches your skills and interests. Once you’ve pursued a project that interests you, you will find a detailed description of what the nonprofit is looking for, this also includes the estimated time and hours you must commit. You may find information about the organization as well. You need to submit your application and the nonprofit organization will see if you are a match.
If you are an nonprofit organization, you will pay a monthly fee to post projects and access the database of professionals. All resumes and applications submitted by professionals are run through an algorithm similar to dating sites, where it finds volunteers that will be a good fit for each project.
Things I Noticed
When you are on Catchafire’s website, many of the current categories and jobs listed are directed towards marketers, design and web development. This is a great resource for those skilled professionals that are willing to donate their time. However, there are many other skills listed.
At this time, the website allows you to search by project and skills only. I would like to see Catchafire add more options. Perhaps being able to search different cities or states or perhaps globally. I understand that Catchafire is a virtual volunteer service, however, I would want know if any projects were close to my home. This might encourage other professionals to get involved if the organization is within the same state. I do think that because Catchafire makes it so easy to volunteer, many people won’t care where these organizations are located. As long as the professionals are interested in a cause, they will be motivated to donate their skills and time.
Benefits of Volunteering
Catchafire is a great service for professionals if are beginning a career or if you just want to volunteer your skills. As a volunteer, you will gain experience, which you can add to your professional portfolio. You also have the chance to enhance your skills. As you know, it never hurts to keep practicing your skills. Plus, you may even learn something new. This also shows your current employer that you are willing to donate your time to a good cause. Could this help you get that promotion? Volunteering has the potential to advance your career.
Volunteering allows you to build relationships with people that have similar interests. If you are working for the same company, you may not get the opportunity to meet other organizations. Catchafire gives us the chance to network with different organizations and groups of people. Volunteering also allows us to be apart of our community and give back.
Sometimes we tend to get into a routine and volunteering our time and skills allows us to do something different for a change. With Catchafire, volunteering can change your perspective on your 9-5 job. It can give you a sense of achievement or give you a fresh outlook on your job.
Nonprofit organizations benefit because they get the work completed from a professional for free. This will save organizations hundreds of dollars, which will allow them to focus on other aspects of their business. Overall, volunteering seems like a win-win!
Would you volunteer your skills using a service like Catchafire?