How to use your skills for good

You work hard to develop your skills. Maybe you think, it’s finally time to give back. Or maybe you’re a student and need relevant experience on your resume. But, picture this… You’re sitting alone at your laptop with a coffee in hand. For hours, you Google volunteer openings in the area. You’ve signed up for five volunteer sites, signed up to their email alerts, and forgotten the passwords to three old profiles. You’ve got 15 internet tabs open. Your wrists are throbbing, your laptop battery is dwindling and by now, your coffee is stale.
This exact story may not resonate with everyone, but for volunteer seekers, this story resonates all too well. From undergraduate students to mid-career professionals, people are struggling to find volunteer positions that fit their skills, passions, and their busy schedules. In late 2016, Hanna Zaidi and Morva Rohani had started their careers in respective industries and were looking for skills-based volunteer opportunities to give back and gain new experiences. Both found that existing volunteer platforms didn’t effectively match openings to their availability, preferences, or the skills they wanted to contribute. Moreover, expectations often weren’t clear, some postings were out of date, and applications went unanswered. That’s when the proverbial light bulbs flashed in their heads. What if there was a Match.com for volunteering and people got matched to opportunities based on their skills, preferences and availability?

Enter CommuniHelp

Zaidi and Rohani formed CommuniHelp and recruited a team of talented professionals in Software Development, Design, and Product Management to make CommuniHelp a reality. CommuniHelp is an algorithm-powered matching platform that matches professionals to skills-based volunteer opportunities with social good organizations – charities, non-profits, and social enterprises.
What is skill-based volunteering? People looking to offer (or learn) a specialized skill or talent to complete volunteer tasks. This includes joining a non-profit board, and providing pro-bono strategy consulting, project-based work, or mentorship.
The platform is like your fairy godmother for volunteering. Using a proprietary matching algorithm, CommuniHelp matches you with volunteer opportunities that best fit your preferences. These matches are based on your schedule, your talents, the skills you want to learn. You can build your resume with hands-on experience all while giving back to the causes you care about.

CommuniHelp doesn’t just match anyone to any organization.

skill-based volunteering
Canada’s 13 million volunteer seekers will be matched with opportunities—most of which will be exclusive to CommuniHelp—in under five minutes.  To join, volunteer seekers simply need to download the CommuniHelp mobile app when it’s available in Fall 2018. Second, they’ll enter their preferences, availability, commitment level (e.g. 1-hour to 6-month engagement) and then, the matchmaking begins. It doesn’t matter if you’re an altruistic volunteer with fifty years’ experience or a recent university/college grad who simply wishes to pad their resume. CommuniHelp welcomes all volunteers of all motivations.

As Zaidi notes, “Social impact is social impact regardless of your motivations.”

On the flip side, CommuniHelp understands the volunteer recruitment challenges for Canada’s 200,000 social good organizations. Organizations struggle with defining projects and scoping out work, recruiting the right skills and having the resources to manage these volunteers. Using CommuniHelp’s cloud-based platform, organizations can quickly scope out volunteer roles and projects and get matched to skilled-volunteers based on best fit. CommuniHelp is developing a solution that intimately understands the challenges on both sides of the market. Above all else, CommuniHelp seeks to benefit social causes and further positive growth initiatives.
skill-based volunteering

There’s a Changing Tide in the Labour Market

It’s 2018— one year after Zaidi and Rohani envisioned CommuniHelp. Now, the changing nature of work and the labour market is more evident than ever. Zaidi and Rohani are seeing this based on the demographics and skills of those signing up and the specific types of roles they seek to match with. More than 25% of Canadian jobs will be heavily disrupted by technology advancements in the coming decade. Despite projected heavy job displacement in many sectors and occupations, the Canadian economy is expected to add 2.4 million jobs over the next four years, all of which will require a new mix of technical and soft skills (RBC Humans Wanted 2018).
skill-based volunteering
This trend has led to an explosion of people upgrading their skills through various learning platforms, tech schools, and more. It then comes as no surprise that 500,000 of Canadian workers wish to enhance their skills in the next decade. But in a competitive labour market where employers seek experience, there are few pathways for people to gain hands-on experience, build their resumes or portfolios, and transition to meaningful employment. Zaidi and Rohani realized that their users are using skilled-volunteering as a pathway to getting experience and transitioning to meaningful employment. Now, 200,000 “social good” organizations—whether non-profit, charity or social enterprises—seek volunteers to fill open positions. Many of these organizations are small and resource-constrained due to external pressure to keep overhead costs low and, as a result, 60% of these organizations run on volunteers while the other 40% rely heavily on volunteer support. Furthermore, donations and volunteering continue to decrease over the years, and the majority of people that volunteer or donate are over the age of 55. Organizations have cited that their biggest needs are technical skills in areas like web development, data analytics, and digital marketing. All of these will help them increase their social impact and continue to deliver their social mission.
Many organizations have entered the digital age… Now, frontend developers, content creators, digital marketers, and strategists are right at the forefront of coveted skillsets by social good organizations,” says Zaidi.

How Do You Sign Up for Skill-based Volunteering?

Volunteering involves gaining new skills and bettering previous ones. It’s valuable experience that helps get feet in the doors and signatures on the dotted employment lines. Today, Zaidi and Rohani are working to solidify their brand, develop a working model, expand their team, and most importantly, test their model in pilots across the Toronto-Hamilton area. CommuniHelp is currently piloting its platform in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. The company has partnerships with dozens of tech schools, colleges, universities, and professional associations— reaching over 50,000 skilled-volunteers.
skill-based volunteering pitch
CommuniHelp will be launching to the public in late 2018. The company is also on track to partner with 3,000 organizations in the next twelve months. CommuniHelp will achieve this by expanding their services across Ontario. It plans to expand to major cities across Canada in the next few years.  CommuniHelp wants to change the way people think about volunteering and incentivize more people to do it. Sign up to their pilot if you’re an organization, school or professional looking to get matched to a volunteer opportunity at www.communihelp.ca

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