At last night’s Feast on Good Event, hosted at the very cool MEET at the Apartment, I had the opportunity to listen to a collection of great speakers address the concept of innovative social change through the lens of digital.
During the beautiful presentation by Nathan, of Crush + Lovely, he challenged the audience to imagine an internet that was personalized just for you. Does it look similar to the one now? What would you change? He challenged us to move away from the standard cheers of big, fast and open and think about an internet that is instead small, slow and closed. Small in a way that is highly personal, slow as in thoughtful and meaningful, and closed in a way that enables more value-driven interactions that challenge the traditional social graph.
Fitting nicely within this concept, although maybe a bit differently than he originally intended, is one of the platforms presented during these talks:
Catchafire, is an organization that is working to enhance (and save) the volunteer experience by helping non-profits scope much-needed work and access skilled volunteers. By charging non-profits a small fee to participate, Catchafire slows down the process and helps these groups think about what will truly be valuable. Rachael, the founder of Catchafire, spent her talk discussing the hidden dangers of “free” for non-profits. Free stuff, free bodies, free services – these things often have unintended costs (staff time for management, organization, maintenance of Free) and can distract non-profits from their primary goals and needs. Using a process that is a bit more tailored, a bit more methodical, Catchafire is able to help non-profits connect with a tailored group of volunteers who can serve specific purposes.
In a similar vein, by using LinkedIn profiles, the organization easily identifies volunteers’ skill sets and offers up personally tailored opportunities. This makes the volunteer experience more meaningful, as volunteers are doing projects that they find interesting and that fit their skills. This thoughtful approach ensures a more positive volunteer experience – hopefully encouraging more participation in the future.
The platform interrupts typical behavior (both on the volunteer and non-profit side), provides personalized content, and fosters off-line connection. I know that I, for one, am looking forward to volunteering through them.