Remember those old ‘Got Milk‘ commercials you used to see on tv when you were a kid? Well, if you are 30 something years old and have lived in the USA, you might remember. Why reference it? Well, it is the first thing I thought of when I cam across Sparked… Get Sparked?
Ah never mind… I guess it is just a short realisation of the fact that I am ageing slowly. At 36 years of age I feel that I have experienced a lot. Military and corporate life, single and family life. What do I have to show for it? What do you have to show for it? Not sure? Then try Sparked and help others. Help charities and non-profit companies achieve online excellence, too!
Sparked is a social business platform that allows non-profit companies, foundations and charities to post ‘problems’ in the hope that volunteer ‘solvers’ will help them.
Sparked offers challenges for volunteers in several different categories including research, web development and design. After signing up you get to create your profile and add all the skills that you are proficient in. Sparked then tries to connect requests to a ‘solver’ by matching it on the basis of a person’s skills. It then becomes a challenge.
A challenge is nothing more than a page of the organisation stating its cause and explanation. It is then up to you to decide if you want to donate time and expertise. Choosing a challenge can be done by skills, but you can also follow and support causes that appeal to you.
Gamification plays an important role on Sparked.com. Through the use of awards, ‘thumbs up’ and testimonials, requesters from the different organisations can publicly thank volunteers for their efforts, thereby keeping the volunteers motivated.
The requests are usually small, so it does not take a lot of your time to actively participate in a challenge. Looking across the website, you can clearly see a group of active users on both sides. With the amount of press attention Sparked.com has been getting, more and more non-profit organisations are starting to make use of the platform.
Challenges, for web development, design, and research, will often consist of giving feedback, helping requesters find research insights or delivering files for their purpose. How can you be sure that the work you are doing is really for an actual non-profit organisation?
Sparked screens applications from organisations against Guidestar’s database. This way, Sparked.com can keep out freeloaders.
Sparked looks good, right? Well yes it does. It does get a little better though. Soon after the social business platform launched, back in 2009, they discovered that most of the volunteer work was being done during office hours.
The team at Sparked turned the tables a bit. They changed their approach to the online volunteering model to help large corporations manage they employees volunteering efforts. Members of Sparked can in some case sign up through a corporate account where all their volunteering activities can be tracked… you know, for PR and Tax purposes.
CEO and Co-founder Ben Rigby stated in a recent interview on Mashable that:
“Typical volunteering engagement for a corporation is around 8%,” he says. “We’re seeing participation rates up in the 50-80% range, just because it’s so simple. You can take 15 minutes or two hours and do it when it’s convenient to you.”
With companies allowing employees to take a few moments out of their work day at the office to do volunteer work has had a tremendous effect on company social profiles, employee community engagement, and for the non-profit organisations and charities alike.
If you’ve got a moment or two a day, a week, a month… why not check out Sparked and make the world a better place. We might not be able to realise world peace, but we will be making a difference.