Today catchafire.org opens its doors to the public after about a year in private beta. The service aims to match volunteers who have valuable professional skills with charities who desperately need help but can’t afford to pay. It all started back in 2009 when CatchaFire.org was created in Manhattan with funding from Angel. The service aims to make money by charging the charities a fee for each match the website made. The fee depends on the value of the recruitment manager’s time spent on admin and vetting as well as the potential volunteer’s contributions. Needless to say, it’s a fraction of professional HR and recruitment services.
Rachael Chong, CEO, found was an investment banker in a previous career and decided to embark on the project after a series of frustrating volunteering posts which included building houses. Eventually, after quitting banking and venturing into microfinance she decided to found CatchaFire.org.
Catchafire.org reports that of the non-profits helped last year, the majority needed PR, marketing, social and digital media design. Clients paid on average $200 per recruit which is, for now, not the greatest of turnovers but this is a fledgling organisation. So far, 2,000 volunteers have registered with 300 non-profits who would like to harness a new wave of time-rich volunteers looking to broaden skill-sets and have something worthwhile to show for career breaks.
In a canny move, volunteers can import career histories directly from LinkedIn profiles or Facebook profiles. So far there is no support for creative workers who would presumably like to import their Beehance profiles. In the end, CatchAFire.org hopes to match good volunteers with valuable skills to organisations who need them the most. For a small fee that is.
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