In today’s interconnected world, volunteering is evolving from something you must do in your local community to something you can do anywhere, for anyone, and you don’t even need to leave the house for! A recent trend in volunteerism is micro-volunteering. This is based on the concept that people who are connected all the time can use their spare time to help others. For example, you could translate a document while waiting in line, you could mentor someone via e-mail, or help an organization apply for a grant. Today’s profile is about the first online micro-volunteering network, Sparked.
Sparked is a website created and offered by The Extraordinaries, Inc. They were founded in July of 2008 by Ben Rigby and Jacob Colker as a for-profit social enterprise (and a certified B-Corp) with headquarters in San Francisco, California. Co-founders Ben and Jacob sought to make volunteering as easy and fun as checking Facebook, playing Farmville, or watching videos on YouTube. According to Sparked communication manager, Shauna Carey, “Our mission is simple: to convert spare time into social good, and bring volunteering into the digital age.” As the world’s first online micro-volunteering network, they seek to connect busy professionals and nonprofit organizations around the globe.
We are all busy. When we do have spare time, it typically comes in small increments – on bus or train commuting to work, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor office, or even while you wait to meet a friend for lunch. You can use even those bits of time to make a difference! Shauna continues, “Sparked delivers small, discrete volunteer tasks to the computers and mobile devices of busy professionals so that they can use those spare minutes to help nonprofits increase capacity. With most nonprofits being greatly understaffed, even a few minutes or hours of time from an expert in marketing, graphic design, or IT can be invaluable.”
Since 2008, over 150,000 people have used the tools offered at Sparked.com to micro-volunteer for organizations worldwide. They also recently launched Sparked Enterprise, which allows corporations to run their employee volunteering programs through their site, and engage employees in service from their own desks.
How can you get involved?
- Sign up as a volunteer at Sparked.com. The website asks about your interests and your skills to match you up with current needs.
- Non-Profits can also apply for free at Sparked.com to list current needs.
- Corporations can also sign up for a new approach to employee volunteering.
- You can also help by spreading the word to others you know who have a spare moment to make a difference!