Free Professional Labor For Social Enterprises?

A Match.Com service for non-profits and social enterprises looking for talented individuals to donate their time, Catchafire is “hiring”. With National Volunteer Week sprouting up in April, now is a great time to start scanning for ways to give in whatever way you are most gifted. With almost $2 million USD in donated value from Pro Bono volunteers, Catchafire is helping both talented professionals and organizations become connected to leverage their work together.

Imagine a 5’2” businesswoman hauling lumber for building houses vs. that same woman applying her business smarts to a social enterprise. Now this is not to say she couldn’t hold her own in the construction industry, but Rachael Chong, Catchafire’s Founder, thought her time would be better spent doing the latter. She founded Catchafire to help busy professionals share their skills to better the work of non-profits and social enterprises. By aligning skill sets with much needed professional assistance in non-profits and small businesses, individuals can tailor their volunteer hours towards something that is right up their alley.

Catchafire is based in NYC, and has a strong contingency there, but it is poised to grow. It offers membership packages to social enterprises and non-profits on a sliding scale. Both the organizations and the volunteers must meet specific requirements to help make the best match. Volunteers undergo a two week trial period, and if they agree to stay, projects can last up to 3 months. You can browse open projects and organizations on their website to get a better sense of the type of organizations and work that is available.

One organization, Champion Access who focuses on advancing underemployed talent, was able to transform from a start-up idea to a full-fledged marketed organization with the help of their volunteer. Andy Duddleston, the Champion Access Founder, requested help marketing their organization and received a timely and well-executed press-kit. This is a great example of connecting organizations in need of help with people that want to give back. During tight economic times, individuals are looking for an increasing amount of non-monetary contributions they can make toward good work. Catchafire is one example of an organization connecting the dots for professionals and organizations.

National Volunteer Week kicks off on April 10 and runs until the 16th for 2011.