What Busy Nonprofits and Creative Professionals Should Know About Microvolunteering
by Sarah Best
How a new crowdsourcing platform connects busy nonprofit staffers with skilled professionals, or how to solve world’s most epic problems in 5 minutes or less.
There’s a new platform for crowdsourcing ideas and solutions we think our nonprofit sector clients, and our colleagues working in creative industries, have a reason to get excited about.
Sparked is a platform that helps busy nonprofit staffers solicit lighting-fast feedback from a network of skilled professionals, including graphic designers, web development and IT professionals, marketing and communications experts, translators, teachers and more.
For busy professionals, Sparked is the perfect place to go to find a volunteering opportunity that you can complete online or via your mobile phone when you don’t have a lot of time. Got five minutes? Accept a challenge that helps solve real-world problems like homelessness and climate change.
Nonprofits: How to Issue a Challenge to Volunteers in 5 Minutes or Less
Sparked makes it easy for nonprofits to register and issue volunteer challenges. Here are the steps in the registration process:
- Identify what type of nonprofit you are (environment, arts, education, etc.)
- Identify what type of volunteer you’re looking for, for a particular challenge (a blogger, a translator, a graphic designer, a lawyer, etc.)
- Post a challenge to Spark’s network of volunteers
Volunteer challenges should be tasks that can be completed in 5-10 minutes. Here are some examples of recent volunteer challenges:
- Help us boost our Twitter prowess with hashtags
- Help us make our fundraising appeal letter more appealing.
- Identify best practices for writing a social justice PSA
- Help us design a t-shirt for volunteers
- Create a “web adventure” about caves for students at a Donor’s Choice school who are exploring caves on an upcoming field trip
- Recommend your favorite volunteer management software
Volunteers respond to your challenge at their convenience, so it’s a good idea to leave the challenge open for a few weeks. Then, nonprofit staffers review volunteer contributions at their convenience.
So What’s In It for Volunteers?
“Get Ready to to Use Your Skills & Wits to Battle the World’s Toughest Challenges” is the battle cry that Sparked issues to new volunteers.
If that sounds like a call to action out of an action movie or a comic book, that’s not a coincidence: Sparked uses game mechanics to help volunteers feel like they can solve real world problems by completing manageable quests, just like you would if you were playing a video game, or if you really did have super powers.
While you don’t have to pretend that you’re a kickass ninja solving the world’s problems one karate chop at a time, Spark’s subtle suggestion that you are one makes volunteering a lot of fun.
On a more practical level, Spark’s model of issuing 5 to 15 minute challenges makes it easy for busy professionals to volunteer small chunks of time, especially because they can do volunteer work through Spark’s website or mobile apps.
Sparked volunteers can give each other positive feedback in the form of a +1 for giving solid advice. Organizations who use Sparked are also are encouraged to send volunteers personal thank you notes through the platform, letting them know how helpful their feedback was.
Volunteer profiles on Sparked also include an ego-flattering list of “people and non profits who think you’re awesome”. Well shucks, we’re blushing.
Are You Ready to Catch the Spark?
If Sparked sounds like a great method of getting a little extra help at your organization, or a way some volunteer work into your already over-busy professional life, here’s what to do next:
- Nonprofits: Find out what types of nonprofits Sparked serves and sign up in 5 minutes or less
- Professionals: List your professional skills and favorite causes
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