The nonprofit industry is booming but its web efforts have been lagging behind, which is what prompted a group of IT professionals to code an instant fix.
Charitable giving is up and nonprofits are set to outpace the private sector in hiring this year, but NGOs’ social media approach and engagement has been sorely lacking, a recent study conducted by NonprofitHR found. To help organizations beef up their websites, branding and infographics strategies, a new volunteer matching site is pairing tech experts who are eager to offer up their talents for free with nonprofits who need their skills.
Launching in April, HashtagCharity invites nonprofits and IT professionals to create profiles on LinkedIn, and then employs an algorithm that pairs a volunteer with a group seeking help.
Nonprofits often simply don’t have the budget to cover such projects, with 68 percent of groups saying that they don’t even have a method for recruiting staff on social media, according to NonprofitHR.
And while a number of such nonprofit-specific volunteer sites exist, HashtagCharity says it’s distinguishing itself from the others because of its technology focus and its custom-project management software, according to Philanthropy.com.
In addition to giving back, volunteers are enticed to join because it gives them an opportunity to update and fine-tune their skills with side projects.
“I feel as if this is a way I can really hone my passions in order to make a difference,” Alex Guffey, who has a background in web development, told the HashtagCharity in an interview. “If you could use your passions to make a difference, why wouldn’t you?”
The Hungary-based group, which plans on working with organizations in the U.S. and Britain, is still developing its business model. For now, it’s dubbing itself a "not-just-for-profit" company and has received $250,000 in venture capital from an Austrian firm, according to Philanthropy.com.
The group already has 600 volunteers and has about a handful of organizations its debuting its efforts with. Those include Action Against Hunger, which helps malnourished kids around the world and 1girl, an Ohio-based group that empowers middle-school girls.
Though HashtagCharity hasn’t officially launched yet, its participating nonprofit groups have already reaped the benefits of the partnership.
In February, the organization held a 15-hour hackathon with Action Against Hunger (AAH) and revamped the nonprofit’s visual storyboard and its messaging for fundraising.
“We are so grateful to #Charity for sharing their skills, time and energy to create valuable tools to help us carry out our work and ultimately save more lives,” Alex Cottin, AAH associate director of partnerships, said of the experience.
Find out more about HashtagCharity and how you can get involved here.
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