|Description||Changing the way people volunteer.|
|Partial Close, 5/2010 ||$400k|
Catchafire connects professionals who want to volunteer their skills with nonprofits that need them. You can think of us as an eHarmony for nonprofits and skilled volunteers.
We are a for-profit social mission business, and we’re also a certified B-Corporation.
What we do
Catchafire helps nonprofits express their needs as short-term, discrete, and individual-based projects.
We package our projects in this way to create off-the-shelf solutions for basic nonprofit needs and to make it easy for professionals to find time to volunteer in the midst of their busy daily lives.
Nonprofits and professionals are matched to each other based on skills, cause interests, and time availability, among other characteristics.
You’ve probably noticed that we’ve rolled out a select number of projects in the areas of marketing + communications. If you don’t see a project that fits you yet, don’t fret. We’re bringing projects that suit your skills soon. Let us know what you’d like to see. We’re here to listen and serve you.
Why we do what we do
We believe that a good volunteer experience can transform someone’s life, and we also know that a bad one can turn someone away from giving their time forever.
Over the past five years the volunteer rate in America has dropped. In 2005 it was at nearly 29% and last year it was under 27%.
We think the volunteer rate is falling because volunteer experiences don’t always make the best use of a volunteer’s time. We want to change this.
It really kills us to know that almost $50 billion is left on the table every year because volunteers aren’t able to give their skills. We want to change this.
Catchafire’s mission is to increase the quality of the volunteer experience for both the nonprofit and the volunteer by providing the opportunity for people to volunteer their skills in a meaningful way.
We believe in providing efficient and effective volunteer experiences.
Why we charge nonprofits
Nonprofits pay us to match them with the right skilled volunteer to address their needs. In return, nonprofits receive professional services whose value far exceeds that of the match fee.
On a philosophical level, we believe that by charging nonprofits they will place a higher value on our volunteers’ time, which will increase the quality of the volunteer experience. It’s simple logic â€“ people and organizations value what they pay for, and we want our nonprofits to value our volunteers’ time.
Our service is free to volunteers, they are the ones who are giving their time after all.
Rachael Chong was a successful young investment banker looking for a way to give back to her community in a meaningful way. One day, her firm offered a volunteer opportunity to help build a house in the Bronx. As Rachael’s five-foot two-inch frame hauled lumber across the schoolyard, she realized that she wasn’t volunteering in the most effective way. So she spent the next six months looking for a better way to volunteer her time. Rachael was shocked at the lack of opportunities to give her hard-earned skills. Frustrated by her inability to serve the greater good while juggling a demanding career, Rachael left the corporate world for the nonprofit world.
A couple years later, Rachael was tasked with the challenge to help start up the US affiliate of BRAC, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the world. To accomplish this daunting task with limited staff and a limited budget, Rachael had to think of inventive ways to use her resources. She turned to her network of friends and former colleagues, getting each to volunteer their time and expertise on short-term, discrete and individual projects. In this way, Rachael helped to free up the time of BRAC USA’s full-time staff to raise millions of dollars in the organization’s first year.
Fresh off her success with BRAC USA, Rachael founded Catchafire with the goal to make it easy for every professional to give their skills (without having to quit their well-paying jobs) and to make it easy for every nonprofit to leverage the goodwill of professionals.
Awards and Recognition
*Selected Company, Investors’ Circle, Spring 2010 *Fellow, West Coast Village Capital, 2010 *Winner, Duke University Start-Up Challenge Social Enterprise Track, 2009 *Selected Company, InSITE, 2009 *Second Place, DFJ Gotham East Coast Venture Challenge, 2009 *Finalist, New York City Entrepreneur, 2009 *Semifinalist, Dell Social Innovation Competition, 2009