TL; DR: On April 25 — in perfect sync with National Volunteer Month — VolunteerMatch will blow out the candles on 20 years of service. For two decades, the nonprofit has helped 13.5 million volunteers find meaningful ways to make a difference. Today, the company’s tech solutions spur volunteer engagement for businesses, campuses, and government agencies across the nation. We recently sat down with Basil Sadiq, Marketing and Engagement Manager at VolunteerMatch, who told us about the company’s history, recent traffic spikes, and plans for future growth.
For several days following President Donald Trump’s inauguration, VolunteerMatch, the web’s largest volunteer engagement network, experienced the biggest uptick in traffic it had ever seen. On Jan. 24, 2017, the organization’s website traffic increased by a whopping 75% — the largest margin in its history. Since then, the uptick has continued, with the site welcoming more than a million new visitors each month.
Political affiliations aside, most Americans agree this administration has ushered in an era of political activism. On Jan. 21, 2017, for example, an estimated 3.3 to 4.6 million Americans participated in a series of Women’s Marches opposing the new administration’s political positions — and rallies have continued ever since.
Protesters have taken to the streets to challenge the travel ban of several Muslim countries, defend the rights of the LGBTQ community, and oppose the proposed border wall, among other causes. In the midst of all this turmoil, one thing is clear: citizens have been energized to have their voices heard.
“Regardless of your political views, democracy is more powerful when people come together to get involved with the causes they care about,” Greg Baldwin, President of VolunteerMatch, said in a press release. “VolunteerMatch is proud to play a role in helping everyone find their opportunity to make a difference.”
That, in essence, is the organization’s mission. As the largest volunteer network online, VolunteerMatch provides unique engagement opportunities for 13 million annual visitors, 120,000 participating nonprofits, and 150 network partners.
“VolunteerMatch believes everyone should have the chance to make a difference by making it easy for good people and good causes to connect,” said Basil Sadiq, VolunteerMatch’s Marketing and Engagement Manager.
An Engine Helping Volunteers and Recruiters Effect Positive Change
VolunteerMatch launched nearly 20 years ago when Greg helped build the first iteration of the organization’s website in his college dorm room. Since then, its reach has expanded significantly.
“Today, we really pride ourselves on being the web’s largest volunteer engagement network,” Basil said. “Although our headquarters is located in San Francisco, our website is host to volunteer opportunities in virtually every zip code across the country.”
Joining VolunteerMatch is incredibly simple. Volunteers can visit the organization’s homepage to sign up for an account using their email addresses. There are also options to connect via social media on Facebook and Linkedin.
To find meaningful opportunities, volunteers can search by city or cause.
“We offer 29 different cause areas, such as animals or the environment, to get started,” Basil said. “Volunteers can then refine their search even further by visiting our advanced search page, where they’re able to toggle filters like opportunities that are good for seniors, good for teens, or family-friendly.”
On the other side of the spectrum, VolunteerMatch offers robust tools to make recruitment easy for 501(c) nonprofits and other organizations.
“We also support US government entities, including public schools and libraries, organizations with state-level tax exemption, for-profit hospices and hospitals, and long-term-care facilities, who we collectively refer to as ‘good causes,’” Basil said.
When a recruiter registers to post a volunteer opportunity on the network, he or she is asked to provide verifiable information such as an employee identification number or IRS determination letter. Basil told us this helps ensure the safety and legitimacy of VolunteerMatch’s network.
Once approved, a post has the potential to reach millions of volunteers both on and outside of the platform.
“If an organization tags a skill related to a volunteer opportunity — for example, blogging, social media, coding, or project management — we’ll mirror that opportunity on Linkedin’s Volunteer Marketplace, which matches skilled professionals with ways to make an impact in their community,” Basil said. “We’ll also mirror the opportunity to our more than 100 corporate partners, who include Starbucks, Groupon, and JetBlue.”
Opportunities for those aged 55-plus are directed to Generation to Generation, a campaign that helps adults 50+ engage with the youth in their communities.
“There are tons of opportunities to get a lot of visibility just by merely posting once on VolunteerMatch.org,” Basil said.
Increase Visibility with One-Click Reposting Exclusively for Members
Those who join VolunteerMatch for $9.95 a month or $99 a year receive a full suite of member benefits such as automated recruiting questionnaires, customized greetings, donation buttons, opportunity metrics, and member support tools.
“By and large, organizations have told us that their favorite feature is a VolunteerMatch member benefit called one-click reposting,” Basil said.
The feature ensures recruiters’ posts are prominently featured at the top of search results.
“Let’s say you’re an organization posting a volunteer opportunity on VolunteerMatch for the first time,” Basil said. “Once another organization comes in and posts a more recent opportunity, your opportunity will get moved down the search results list. As more opportunities populate, the opportunity you posted will continue to decrease in relevancy.”
With one-click reposting, however, VolunteerMatch members may repost their opportunity to the top of the search results page daily — and the process is almost effortless.
“It’s called one-click reposting for a reason,” Basil said.
Jump-Start Corporate Social Responsibility Programs with YourMatch
VolunteerMatch’s Business Solutions are also being employed by a wide range of organizations to streamline employee volunteer management.
“We launched VolunteerMatch Business Solutions to address a need in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) space,” Basil said. “More than 100 companies — including Starbucks, Groupon, JetBlue, Under Armour, Target, Whirlpool, VMware — are leveraging Business Solutions to tap into our growing network of business opportunities and engage their employee through volunteering programs.”
To that end, YourMatch by VolunteerMatch provides employees access to 100,000-plus nonprofits through customizable homepage designs, personalized dashboards, and reporting tools.
“If an organization has this solution, their employees can navigate to their YourMatch dashboard to find a volunteer opportunity that’s meaningful for them,” Basil said. “They can record their volunteer hours, and an administrator can track the success of these programs.”
Companies that already have a corporate giving platform in place need not fear a bumpy integration process.
“We actually opened up our API to six platform partners, including Bright Funds, Causecast, and YourCause, so that employees can plug our networks’ more than 100,000 opportunities into their existing systems,” Basil said. “If an organization already has Bright Funds and is happy with it, we want to work with them so that we can get employees to find meaningful opportunities that are personal and relevant.”
Coming Soon: A Redesigned Site to Serve an Uptick in Traffic
As citizens become increasingly motivated to offer their services to worthwhile causes, VolunteerMatch will continue to grow and adapt.
“We do a pretty good job — and are starting to do an even better job — at listening to our audience, addressing their pain points, and trying to build tools that are more powerful, making our user experience a lot more intuitive,” Basil said.
VolunteerMatch is currently undergoing a website overhaul scheduled for completion at the end of spring 2018.
“Our main goal for the redesign of the site was to make it easier and more intuitive for volunteers and nonprofits to leverage,” Basil said.
Ultimately, his team’s culture allows the company to do just that.
“Embodying our mission in our daily lives allows us to create a better product and understand who our constituents are,” Basil said. “We’re all very aligned with our mission, and we live that mission in our daily lives. Since we work at an organization that supports almost 120,000 good causes, everyone here has a good cause that they give back to.”