Imagine you are a new-opened nonprofit organization. What to start with? How to find people who are ready to get involved? Once Rachael Chong asked herself the same question, and it resulted in the largest matching platform that helps nonprofits to find volunteers.

 

Rachael Chong’s journey

Rachael Chong’s journey through the field of nonprofits started with helping to build the US affiliate of BRAC, an international largest development organisation dedicated to empowering people living in poverty, based in Bangladesh. There she helped to rise more than $40 million in less than one year. Such a rapid success gave her an inspiration to launch Catchafire in 2009.

With a limited budget she had to get crafty and creative to get the platform done. At first the team consisted of only two people. But who could to build a platform who focuses on volunteering? Of course, volunteers! Chong invited people from  McKinsey, AOL, Nike, Goldman Sachs and other esteemed companies to help. One year, later she has already won “Summer 2010 Huffington Post’s Innovators Series”, got the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award and NYC Venteure Fellowship in 2012, was named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2012 and 2014 and became one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2015. Now she is one of the most successful asian women entrepreneurs.

I believe in servant leadership. If you flip the typical pyramid structure where the leader is on the top, you have the leader at the bottom who supports the rest of the company. She shares her power, viewing her role as the chief enabler — enabling (aka “serving”) her team so they can achieve their potential for the success of the whole. She leads by example by serving her people and her mission”- Chong said in her interview to “The Asian Entrepreneur” about the principles she follows.

Sharing these experiences, Rachael gives inspiring motivational speeches on TEDx:

 

 

From business plan to a growing platform

While Rachael Chong was working as an investment banker, she always had a desire to apply her professional skills somewhere out of her job in order to help nonprofits.  But there always was a trouble: it was quite difficult to find a proper organisation where she could get a volunteer experience from. There was no skills-based opportunities she was searching for. And that’s how Catchafire platform has begun. At first, it was a business plan for Rachael’s Master thesis, when Chong studied Public Policy in Duke University. Now  it is world’s largest online provider of  volunteer platform.

 

What does it do?

Give what you’re good at” is the slogan of the platform. You can donate not only money but your skills and talent. This is the main idea Catchafire follows. With limited resources nonprofits experience the lack of expertise they need to improve day by day.  Catchafire matches professionals with nonprofits: it helps people who are ready to give their skills with organisations looking for such a people. Furthermore, Chang’s platform helps companies to design, develop volunteer programs.  Say you’re a software developer, designer or a business analyst. You fill profile on Catchafire.org, giving infon about your skills and your preferences. Meanwhile, nonprofits do the same by creating a profile and listing projects in areas that require a certain skill — for example, creating a plan  for a campaign devoted to raising awarness about epidemia, or designing a new logo for new-opened shelter for homeless animals. Catchafire, just like a dating service, will help to match.

The platform offers 8 main fields that nonprofits can look for a help with: Business plan writing, Fundraising, Marketing and Communications, Online platforms, Operations, People, Program and Technology.

Here is the Manifest of Catchafire:
  • WE BELIEVE all social good organizations should have access to top talent.
  • WE BELIEVE all people should have the opportunity to use their talents for good.
  • WE BELIEVE all people should have the opportunity to be transformed by a positive volunteer experience.
  • WE FOSTER an environment rich in reciprocity.
  • WE INCENTIVIZE measurable actions over good intentions.

Who does it help?

American Cancer Society is one of the active users of Catchafire platform. Here is an example of an inspiring story:

In the beginning of 2017 the American Cancer Society was looking for a designer to create a brand logo for new strategy Gen2End, which engaging young professionals, who will help to end cancer in XXI century.  On the other hand, a graphic designer Allie wanted to donate her skills to an organisation that supports researches that are important to global society that will eradicate such a horrible illness as cancer. So she decided to create a logo for Gen2End. The meeting point was Catchafire. Both volunteer and nonprofit started from scratch and soon the logo will be presented.

 

What is the future of the platform?

As Chong mentioned in her interviews and public speeches, Catchafire aims to become a hub not only for nonprofits, but also for for-profit and for-purpose organisations to interact. But even now there is no such a platform like Catchafire, so it keeps setting treds to the volunteer market. Wanna see what’s the future of such a platforms? Rachael Chong will show you. Very soon.

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