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Catchafire matches talented volunteers with opportunities to serve

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Courtesy of Catchafire

(Read caption) Rachael Chong is CEO and founder of Catchafire, a 'social mission business' that aims to connect skilled professionals with meaningful volunteer projects.

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Tom D’Eri needed some help. In September of last year, he co-founded a small social enterprise that helps people with autism find employment. He quickly realized that he needed some outside assistance with things like branding and website development, topics that he didn’t have much experience with himself.

Mr. D’Eri could have hired some expensive consultants to do the work for him, but he was eager to find a better value for his money. So he tried something new: He got in touch with the folks at Catchafire.

Founded in 2009, Catchafire is a “social mission business” that aims to connect skilled professionals with meaningful volunteer projects. To date, the organization, which is based in New York, has built up a database of about 10,000 volunteer professionals and 2,500 organizations that are looking for pro bono services.

And the Catchafire team says that it's just getting started; 10 years from now, Catchafire wants to be a household name.

“Our vision is a more effective and efficient social good sector, and – on the other side – a world where it’s commonplace to serve for the greater good,” says Rachael Chong, Catchafire’s CEO and founder.

Too many pro bono projects leave volunteers feeling disillusioned, Ms. Chong says, and too many nonprofits are struggling with some fairly straightforward technical tasks. Catchafire offers a solution to both of those problems by matching skilled professionals with specific, time-limited projects.

Here’s how it works: Accountants, photographers, lawyers, PR gurus, marketing strategists, and the like log onto the Catchafire website, upload their resumes, and fill out an application. That information is crunched by an algorithm, which figures out which projects in the database will be a good fit for each potential volunteer.

“We’ve created this technology platform that works essentially like an eHarmony or a Match.com, meaning that we’re able to tailor the match to the individual,” Chong says.

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