Just like private companies, nonprofit organizations are in need of talent: There are approximately 2 million nonprofit board member seats that need to be filled each year, and over 90 percent of nonprofit organizations say they would like to use skilled volunteers to help them carry out their mission, according to LinkedIn. And individuals are hungry to offer their services – from students hoping to build their resumes, professionals who want to give back to retirees and stay-at-home parents looking to keep their skills fresh.
But how can these nonprofits seeking skilled volunteers and individuals with just the right expertise find each other? LinkedIn and volunteer engagement network VolunteerMatch aim to solve this challenge, announcing last month that the two organizations will partner to make it easier for nonprofits to successfully recruit experienced volunteers and board members.
A team of product managers and engineers from both organizations has developed a technology bridge, so opportunities for skilled volunteer positions that are posted to VolunteerMatch.org will now automatically be posted on LinkedIn as well. This will allow the 100,000 nonprofits that use VolunteerMatch to promote their volunteer positions the additional opportunity to reach the 300 million members of the world’s largest professional network on the Internet.
For LinkedIn members, this partnership will give them access to thousands of new listings for nonprofit volunteer and board positions that might match their particular skill set and interests. Back in January, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company launched the LinkedIn Volunteer Marketplace, to connect its users with volunteer opportunities from organizations like Catchafire, Taproot Foundation, BoardSource and, of course, VolunteerMatch. Under the new collaboration, professionals using LinkedIn are now able to browse through all of VolunteerMatch’s listings for skilled volunteers – more than 5,000 opportunities – rather than a selection of positions.
“Skilled volunteering has become a critical form of support for nonprofit organizations,” said VolunteerMatch President Greg Baldwin in a statement. “But fragmentation, disorganization and dilution keep too many great organizations from finding the help that they need. We’re proud to be partnering with LinkedIn to use technology to help the social sector find the talent and skills it deserves. Not every partnership in Silicon Valley puts the needs of the community first, but we are pleased to say this one does.”
And it seems likely that the new partnership will be met with success: During a pilot program, VolunteerMatch witnessed twice – and sometimes triple – the typical amount of sign-ups from interested volunteers on LinkedIn and predicted the trend will continue now that all of its skilled-volunteer listings are live on LinkedIn’s site, the organization said in a statement.
LinkedIn membership’s eagerness to give back to their communities will also play a role in the program’s outcome. Starting in September, LinkedIn made it possible for users to announce their interest in philanthropy on their profiles, and as of April, more than a million members indicated that they are actively seeking volunteer work.
Nonprofits can benefit from the help of skilled volunteers, but the volunteers themselves can also reap rewards – and not just that warm fuzzy feeling you get from contributing to a good cause. A 2013 study from the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that promotes volunteerism, followed more than 70,000 unemployed individuals for 10 years and found that those who did volunteer work had a 27 percent better chance of landing a job than those who didn’t. One reason for the higher employment levels among past volunteers is that learning new skills or knowledge and then employing them during a volunteer position may “demonstrate higher levels of capacity, potentially making the volunteer more attractive to and productive for employers,” according to the study, entitled “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment.”
In addition, a recent survey on LinkedIn reported that 42 percent of hiring managers said they consider volunteer work equivalent to full-time work experience, and 20 percent said they had hired a job applicant because of his or her previous volunteer experience. So while a nonprofit organization can accomplish its goals working with skilled volunteers – a social media expert can conduct an outreach campaign for the group or a financial expert can serve as a board member – volunteers can advance their careers: gaining valuable new skills, networking with important industry players and getting closer to securing their dream job.
Image credit: VolunteerMatch
Passionate about both writing and sustainability, Alexis Petru is freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area whose work has appeared on Earth911, Huffington Post and Patch.com. Prior to working as a writer, she coordinated environmental programs for Bay Area cities and counties. Connect with Alexis on Twitter at @alexispetru