Social Entrepreneurs: How to Start a Skill-based Volunteer Matching Business

Do you have the passion for volunteering and want to establish a business that can connect volunteers to non-profits and social enterprises? Learn how from this article.

volunteer matching
A skill-based volunteer matching service can help connect skilled professionals with non-profits and social enterprises

Related: News coverage on a volunteer matching service.

Unlike what many people think, the problem with volunteering is not on the shortage of volunteers. The problem lies on the lack of facilitators.

There are a lot of talented people who are eager to do volunteering works, but don’t know how to start or who to help. In the other hand, non-profits and social enterprises are having difficulty in identifying the right people to join them in their cause.

The answer to those issues is by having a group of facilitators who can help connect volunteers and non-profits/social enterprises. The ideal model to facilitate that is a matching service – a gap in the market that sociopreneurs can serve.

Skill-based volunteer matching business: Catchafire case study


The main difference between skill-based and non-skill-based volunteers lies in the needs of the non-profits and social enterprises. Not that non-skilled volunteers are less valued by skilled ones, but quite often, non-profits need someone with specialized skills, such as lawyers, designers, etc. to support the core team.

Catchafire, a New York-based skill-based volunteer matching company, is a great example of what a sociopreneur can do to make an impact on the community.

Catchafire, founded by Rachael Chong, was born out of a necessity. Rachael was looking for volunteering opportunities to utilize her professional skills, but can’t find the right place to offer them. So, with the help of angel funding, she established Catchafire in 2009.

Catchafire enables professionals to give their skills pro bono – donate them without any compensation. They can register with Catchfire and connect with non-profits and social enterprises signed up with Catchafire (Catchafire charges them annual membership fees.)

Catchafire is a great solution for non-profits and social enterprises as the matching service can help them to “hire” the right volunteers, and more…

Carolynn King Richmond, President and CEO of MicroSociety testifies that Catchfire has helped her to avoid costly mismatches, as well as to expand MicroSociety’s reach.

Learn more about Catchafire from this video

Some tips on starting a skill-based volunteer matching business

1. Focus on the user-friendliness of your business website

Sure, there are a lot to do in the backend, but your business website plays a very important role

Your website should offer everything volunteers want to know, such as the projects to support and what’s required to join. Non-profits and social enterprises should also get the best exposure they can.

2. Boost your search engine optimization efforts

Search engine-wise, you need to work on SEO and link building in such a way that your matching website can be found on top of search engine result pages when someone types a particular search term, such as “volunteer works,” “volunteer service,” even “how to offer my skills to non profits.” Better ranking means your business website can be found easily.

3. Get social

Remember, “just build it and they will come” just won’t work with business online presence. You need to get the words out, and social media is the right place to do that. Establishing a social presence for your volunteering matching website can help you get brand evangelists, volunteers and non-profits – join Twitter, build and manage your Facebook fan page well, go to Google+ and buzz your business’ purpose, etc.

4. Join volunteering associations

You should also consider to join a volunteering associations and network with like-minded people. You will get insights and ideas on how to grow your volunteering matching business more.

So, there you go – some tips to help you start your volunteer matching business!

If you are still considering your options, again, watch this news coverage on Catchfire to give you an idea or two about the matching service.

Ivan Widjaya
On skill-based volunteer matching service

Disclaimer: I receive incentives to share my views on this particular blog post, but all of the opinions are my own. My blog is a part of an online influencer network for Business on Main.