When Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati needed a nine-page English document translated to Arabic, the children's advocacy organization turned to Sparked. Someone living in Jordan logged on and translated the prose in a few hours. Then someone from California confirmed the accuracy of the piece. Crowdsourcing skills and bite-size volunteering is what Sparked is all about.
Sparked connects corporate employees with nonprofits via the Internet, giving employees a way to volunteer right from their cubicles. Sparked co-founder Jacob Colker calls this micro-volunteering, a term he's trying to coin.
When I visited the small, barren Sparked office in San Francisco's hip SOMA neighborhood, Colker showed me the company's volunteering platform, which it licenses to major corporations. Employees from companies including new client LinkedIn or Google, Frog Design, Kraft, and SAP can sign in and volunteer during their lunch breaks--and people can focus on certain regions or specific issues. But the volunteer work is not limited to corporate partnerships. Individuals can also sign up at their leisure to help nonprofits with all things digital, from branding issues to blogging advice.
Originally, Colker thought people would volunteer their time while sitting on the bus or lounging by the pool. As it turns out, people out and about are probably not going to be able to help a nonprofit with a branding issue, Colker said. Instead, he maintains, people would much rather help others from their office, right at their desktop, during the free time they have between work-related tasks. The company started as The Extraordinaries in 2008 and within the past eight months rebranded itself to switch its mobile focus more to the Web. … Read more