Communities Get Boost With LinkedIn Volunteer Site

By John Fuller on April 28, 2014 at 3:54 pm EST
Hattie Larlham, a center for disabled adults and children, recruits volunteers using LinkedIn.

Helping communities through volunteer efforts has become a lot easier thanks to LinkedIn, the social network for the working world.

In January of 2014, LinkedIn launched its Volunteer Marketplace, where a nonprofit can post listings for volunteers and people can look for unpaid positions. LinkedIn’s site is not an entirely new concept, but an expanded way to reach more people looking for volunteer positions.

Existing volunteer websites, like CatchAFire, MicroMentor, VolunteerMatch and Taproot Foundation are all partnering with LinkedIn, which is serving as an aggregator. Coupling a marketplace for volunteer positions to one that is well known for attracting paid jobs could see a boost of attention for volunteering and help a community’s image as a great place to live, according to several nonprofit officials.

Skilled Volunteers Sought by Arizona Arts Group

“LinkedIn has already been an amazing help to us,” says Robin Hanson, program manager for Business Volunteers for the Arts, part of Arizona Citizens for the Arts.

Hanson is finalizing her first LinkedIn volunteer placement, a cost benefit analyst who will help a Phoenix arts agency. Hanson expects to bring that person on board and has several other skilled professionals in the pipeline.

“An arts organization doesn’t have the time, talent or resources to find those skilled professionals who can help them,” Hanson says. “With the help of sites like LinkedIn and VolunteerMatch, we can help an employer assist a talented, promising employee to work in a totally different environment and enhance their skills, while helping that employer with talent development and aid the community.”

Hattie Larlham, an Ohio-based developmental center assisting disabled adults and children, relies on volunteers and uses websites like LinkedIn as a way to recruit its volunteers.

“Using sites like LinkedIn and VolunteerMatch is a wonderful way to get people in the community involved from all age groups and backgrounds,” says Jenna Allen, volunteer coordinator for Hattie Larlham.

Paige Mintz found Hattie Larlham by searching the Internet for a nonprofit as a way to get her children involved in volunteering. Now she and her son read to children at one of Hattie Larlham’s development facilities.

Glenn and Nicolle Dempsey decided they wanted to do volunteer and found a volunteer opportunity with Hattie Larlham online. Now they visit a Hattie Larlham residential center and do crafts and games with adult residents. “We find it fulfilling and enjoyable,” Glenn Dempsey says. “It gives us a better connection to the community.”

Allen says several volunteers have also gone on to pursue professional careers in various medical fields.

MicroMentor Sees LinkedIn Site Potential

MicroMentor, a Portland-based nonprofit that links mentors to aspiring entrepreneurs sees the LinkedIn site and its volunteer site partners as helping it pursue its mission.

Samantha Albery, director of MicroMentor says there has been a significant bump in traffic since the LinkedIn site went live. “We think it can only expand the opportunities we have for our mentors and our entrepreneurs,” Albery says.

One example of MicroMentor’s successful matching is Sweet Ritual, a vegan ice cream parlor in Austin. The owners of this new business searched the Web for some help and found MicroMentor, where they eventually met Sally Roberts, a successful business owner, looking for someone to mentor. As a result of her help, Sweet Ritual is a thriving new business.

LinkedIn officials say Volunteer Marketplace is good way for people who are not working currently to expand their horizons and make a positive impact on their communities. It also benefits the nonprofit sector, which are still reeling from the economic downturn of several years ago and desperately need volunteers. Some 3 million members of LinkedIn have added information about their interest in volunteering to their profiles on the site, and some 600,000 have indicated they would like to serve on boards or do other skills-based volunteering, according to LinkedIn officials.

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