Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Would You Volunteer 20 Min. of Your Expertise If You Didn't Have to Search for an Opportunity?

Cross-posted from The Extraordinaries: On-Demand Volunteerism by Phone.

When you want to find a way to volunteer, the first step is to search for volunteer positions using services that aggregate volunteer listings, or to search on nonprofits' sites for listings, but what if you could create your own listing of services that you'd like to give to nonprofits, and they could search for you?

For my last post on The Extraordinaries for a while, Jacob Colker asked me to write about how I would use The Extraordinaries. The truth is, when I search for volunteer opportunities, very rarely do I find one that fits my skills and schedule. Instead of searching through "volunteer opportunties" created by nonprofits, it would be great if I could create my own "nonprofit opportunities" where I could list all of the ways I would like to help nonprofits, and they could contact me. There would probably need to be a way that I could click a button on my profile that which would let an organization know when I'm available/Not available to help.

For example, here are some "nonprofit opportunities" I would list on a service like The Extraordinaries:
  • 20-minutes of social media strategy coaching
  • 20-minutes of blogging advice
  • 20-minutes of podcasting advice
  • 20-minutes of career coaching
  • 20-minutes of press release writing/editing
  • 20-minutes of Internet research on any topic
  • 20-minutes of youth anthology production advice
  • 20-minutes of public speaking advice
  • 20-minutes of volunteer recruitment advice
  • 20-minutes online community building advice
  • 20-minute oral storytelling advice
My two questions for you:

1. Would a service like this be helpful for nonprofits?
2. Would you be inclined to create your own "nonprofit opportunities" listing?

Flickr photo credit: Advice uploaded by Laughlin Elkind







7 comments:

  1. Personally, I would absolutely love to give 20 minutes of my time to someone who was in need. Especially if I had a summary of their organization (in results and needs, not marketing speak). I'd love to do that maybe a few times a month.

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  2. Yes; and yes. I love the idea of being proactive in offering up one's expertise. As a volunteer, this would be of great interest to me. And in my work at a non-profit I would love the ability to search through potential volunteers. Then it would be on me (or the non-profit) to entice the volunteer. It sounds like a reversal in process that could be very effective.

    Sign me up! :)

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  3. Great idea, especially "The Doctor's In" sign. As a consultant, I can't afford big commitments of volunteer time, but I'd love the chance once a week to spend 20 minutes helping a small or medium-sized nonprofit struggling to plan, execute, and evaluate communications--including social media. That would be downright FUN!

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  4. My first thought is...how is there not something like that out there already?

    If not, there definitely needs to be! The technology is there and the need is certainly there. Let's do this!

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  5. Heya, just wanted to cross link the comments from the Extraordinaries and vice versa. Great discussion/comments on each site:

    http://www.theextraordinaries.org/2009/01/would-you-volunteer-20-min-of-your-expertise-if-you-didnt-have-to-search-for-an-opportunity.html#comments

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  6. As a (potential) volunteer, this idea definitely appeals to me. As a person working at a nonprofit, it concerns me. While an aggregator service that allows me to search for volunteers via a tag or something similar seems to streamline the work, I can't imagine taking a bunch of time to search...only to get 20 minutes of help. Of course, I'm not discounting the real experience volunteers can bring to bear, but my organization is so understaffed that 20 minutes seems more like a burden than a help (as in, creating more work for an already strained staff).

    One more thought: while many of the 20 minute opportunities listed in this post are applicable to a wide variety of organizations, I'd be concerned that without some slightly longer-term engagement, a volunteer wouldn't be able to offer great advice. Case in point: my organization does infrastructure and capacity building work with nonprofit associations. In essence, we help the nonprofits that help other nonprofits to help actual people. Our work is not sexy and is in fact confusing to most people. Questions of our own branding and communications notwithstanding, our strategies for donor development, social media and marketing, etc. are much different than orgs that focus on "puppies and babies." Will a 20-minute volunteer be able to understand that and alter his/her work appropriately??

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  7. Thanks for your enthusiastic responses Nate, Mia, Gayle and Christopher. Definitely contact The Extraordinaries team if you'd like to get involved with their work.

    Jacob Colker
    Co-Founder and Executive Director
    jacob@theextraordinaries.org
    (773) 742-5515

    Ben Rigby
    Co-Founder and Technical Lead
    ben@theextraordinaries.org

    Elisa - I feel your pain. As a former Volunteer Manager, I know that a lot of energy and time goes into recruiting, training, managing and retaining volunteers, so you want to get bang for your buck.

    On the other hand, people are so overextended these days, I think that new ways of volunteering, in addition to the old ways of volunteering, need to be created.

    RE: your question of would people be able to understand your organization enough to be of help, it is a legitimate question, but I would imagine that there are things you could use 20 minutes of advice on that don't require in depth understand of your org (i.e. how do we recycle old computers?).

    Also, sometimes for new clients I do 30 minute free consults. I've found that a lot can be explained and accomplished in a short amount of time.

    Keep the feedback and ideas coming!

    ReplyDelete

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