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More Intentional Donation/Volunteer Matching Platform

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As a program director for a nonprofit, I come across this case constantly: we always need volunteers, but making sure their time and efforts are used most effectively is always a challenge. There’s so much to do, and not always a lot of organization in place, so people tend to go where they are needed, but it’s not necessarily the best match for their skills or even what the organization is lacking.

I envision a new kind of donation/volunteer two-sided marketplace. People indicate how they’d like to give (time, money, other), their skills, their availability, their interests, and their location, and nonprofits indicate what they’d like to receive (time, money, other), what skills they are looking for, when they need them, and their location. People are then matched to the nonprofit service that is the best fit for both parties, and the platform facilitates the location, events, and times that make the most amount of sense.

Not only do I think this could increase meaningful and helpful volunteers and donations, but I think this could also free up nonprofit staff to focus more on strategic and business planning and less on coordinating volunteers and donations.

Is this something you’d be interested in participating? If you’re part of the nonprofit world, is this something you feel is needed?

5 Comments

  1. Cool idea! I could see your target market being corporate philanthropy organizers. Many of them have employee volunteering hour minimums as well as annual donation commitments, so this level of organization and commitment could likely help them rally their workforces appropriately. Godspeed!

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  2. Interesting idea. I am curious about the other side of this marketplace: the volunteers your platform would be hoping to recruit. I can definitely see the use case for nonprofits, but I do wonder if similar value is offered for volunteers/donors. From what I’ve seen, organizations seem to have cyclical periods of success with volunteers and donors, seeing large donations and volunteership at key events and fundraising galas. I wonder if this kind of point-in-time current model can be congruent with the longer-term, longer-horizon volunteer and donor behavior your platform seems to emphasize.

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  3. I’m curious about how you’ll market this and who is your target market? I’m thinking that you’ll need to interview nonprofits and industry leaders and talk to them about their needs so you can build a better product.

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  4. I like the idea, but I would like to caution you on the feasibility. There are over 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. alone, and they all need volunteers and donations. Volunteering is becoming increasingly popular, but the amount of time required to do it well is significant (think of the gap year abroad becoming gap months in the U.S.), and there are only so many people who are willing to do it. And let’s face it – a younger generation of donors and volunteers is less likely to be willing to commit the time and energy to volunteer for a few hours a week, let alone a few hours a month. I think there are a lot of people who want to help, but the numbers are going to be a challenge to get to a critical mass.

    In terms of business viability, I’m not sure how valuable this platform would be to the nonprofit. What is the value proposition? How does this platform make their work easier or better? The nonprofit would have to pay for this platform, which means the value they get from it would have to be greater than the cost.

    I do think there is a place for a platform that helps match volunteers and donations, but I’m not sure that the nonprofit world is the right place for it. I see a few alternative business models that might work: a for-profit social enterprise that does this as a philanthropic service for nonprofits, a B2B platform that charges a subscription fee, or an online marketplace where people can post their availability and skills and nonprofits can post what they need. In any of these scenarios, the platform would have to have a value proposition that is valuable enough to offset the cost.

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