Injecting professionals – and professionalism – into charity volunteeringBy Catchafire, Inc
Catchafire matches truly top-flight global talent with well scoped, short term charity assignments.
The site acts as an intermediary between the world of charities and potential volunteers from the corporate sector – facilitating good matches and designing discrete tasks that are genuinely valuable for both sides.
The site was set up by a former UBS investment banker, Rachael Chong, who grew frustrated when she couldn’t find a way to channel her financial talents towards a good cause. ‘I spent six months trying to find a chance to volunteer my financial skills,’ she says. ‘And eventually quit banking to start this company: I [don’t think anyone else] should have to sacrifice their well paying jobs to make a difference.’
Volunteers and charities both have profiles on the site to market their skills and social causes to each other. The site provides tips to make your page look more attractive, and volunteers can log in with Facebook, auto-import their professional experience from LinkedIn and showcase sample work.
Catchafire assigns account handlers to help charities scope projects and think through their strategic priorities, and they are also asked to prepare a 'mini procurement form' for each project, helped by a detailed menu of precise possible job functions. The team designed this system to ‘alleviate a pain point for non-profits’ who may not have experience commissioning specialist professional services, the delivery of a Salesforce database, for instance.
Volunteers apply online, with charities simply choosing to ‘interview’ or ‘pass’ on candidates. A two-way interview establishes goals, scope, timeline and communication. Volunteers then manage their own workflow, with a dedicated volunteer manager appointed as their point-person within the charity, and access to peers via the Catchafire dashboard.
Charities are required to make a small investment, ‘to ensure their seriousness and commitment’. Each assignment typically takes five hours a week and lasts between a fortnight and three months. Projects include infographics, website design, branding, communications, PR, strategy, social media, finance and HR.
Image 'studying up' courtesy of Steve McFarland
Last updated: 28th of May, 2014