Stay-at-home volunteers can now help out over the Internet, such as playing with kittens at an animal shelter using a remote-controlled arm.
Crowdsourcing comes in many forms. All of them represent an opportunity to get work done in a new and often better way. Nonprofits are getting wise to this fast. Why? Because they’re challenged to do more with less on a daily basis.
Here are four ways modern nonprofits are using crowdsourcing to get their good deeds done:
1. Volunteers don’t have to be in the room anymore to physically volunteer:
As far as fun volunteering opportunities go, playing with kittens at an animal shelter is probably unequaled. It’s no wonder that the option to do this over the internet is a popular one. The Oregon Humane Society gives volunteers the chance to control robotic arms wielding toys for bored cats waiting to be adopted. This opportunity is not only good for the cats and volunteers, but it’s a great way to encourage donations and adoptions.
And, if you look beyond the surface, this is more than just a stunt. It proves a concept: Volunteering can be done from anywhere by anyone if you accommodate it with the right technology. From there, you can crowdsource all the help you need. Plus, doesn’t cyber-volunteer sound kind of cool? Check out Reach-In.com if you’re interested in setting up your own robot volunteer opportunity.
2. It’s not just fundraising; it’s crowdfunding.
Not to say anything bad about fundraising or that nonprofits aren’t already creative fundraisers, but crowdfunding can help nonprofits pull off a fundraiser with a bang!
What’s better? Pitching in $5 to help a local community garden after reading a brochure about being closer to the earth, or watching a video from someone passionate about gardening telling you they will give you the first batch of tomatoes from that garden in exchange for a $5 pledge?
The video, the timeline, the prizes, the goal, the sense of community ... all these ingredients of a crowdfunding campaign are helping nonprofits succeed. See, for example, this quilt fundraiser to stop gun violence and this successful project encouraging the creation of a ton of memes to shift the debate on climate change.
Check out Shareable’s tips on how to run a crowdfunding campaign here.
3. Micro-actions add up to mega-good
People are learning you can use tiny actions done by the crowd online and turn them into meaningful change. Here are a few examples:
Sparked has an open call for volunteers to help nonprofits on small tasks to be completed online. From advice, to logos, to video editing, this is where wall between people and their causes is broken down.
Help from Home is home to a database of tons of microvolunteering actions you can do to make the world a better place. Register and keep track of your impact.
Fold-It: Help cure diseases and understand biological processes by playing a video game that simulates protein folding, a process that dictates almost everything about you as a living thing.
Duolingo: Learn a new language while translating the web. Make the world’s information available to everyone.
4. Gigantic staff? Nope ... just great content.
Every nonprofit needs great content. That can include grant applications, donor appeals, blog posts, and more. Nonprofits need to tell their story almost all the time or risk being forgotten. These sites help get it done:
Blogmutt: Get your blog posts from an expert crowd for a monthly fee.
Mturk: Get content, test headlines, and do web research quickly and inexpensively.
Pluralis: Test your landing pages, improve their conversion rate, and make sure that your audience is engaged.
The truth is that crowdsourcing is not magic, but it brings automation to everybody. It can be used in innumerable ways. It’s just that nonprofits, who must do world-changing stuff with limited resources, are flocking to it for all the advantages it offers.
• Casey Armstrong is the founder of VineStove, a crowdsourcing site that is currently crowdsourcing its startup. You can support VineStove here.