Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 6 seconds

According to the Independent Sector’s, “The Value of Volunteer Time” - an average hands-on volunteer saves a nonprofit $25 an hour. If that volunteer is skill-based or pro-bono; they save a nonprofit $150 per hour. Pro-bono volunteers are volunteers that leverage their specialized skills. This includes everything from event coordination, legal counsel, and job skills training. For instance, a lawyer would work with a nonprofit for free to give legal advice to their constituents. While there are thousands of nonprofits that could benefit from skill-based volunteers - just as many pro-bono volunteers ready to help – the issue is how do they find each other?

In Use:

Common Impact believes they have the solution and are working hard to close that gap between nonprofits and pro-bono volunteers. According to Molly Weinstein the Associate Director of Field Building, Capacity Commons was designed to “build bridges between volunteers and nonprofits” making it easier to form partnerships between the two organizations with the end goal of creating a “one-stop-shop” for volunteers and charities to come together.

They have recently expanded their program to include a new open-sourced platform that would make it easier than ever to connect a skill-based volunteer to a charity. The platform is entirely free and was created to support educational institutes, nonprofits, and charities alike. The tool was designed to be interactive and intuitive – Weinstein calling it a “chose your own adventure” where interested parties would begin by creating their project and moving on to six additional steps that will ensure a successful volunteer project.

Technology Used:

Capacity Commons is an open-sourced platform that is based entirely on the cloud. The site is self-service and comes with user guides to assist nonprofits should they run into any trouble. The platform itself is new and it still working out some kinks, working with current users to collect their feedback to improve the site.

Ease of Use:

Capacity Commons provides a “Pro-Bono Guidebook” to walk new users through the process of creating and executing a volunteer project. The guidebook includes FAQ and documents that advise nonprofits from Step 1 all the way to Step 7.

Recap:

Capacity Commons is a labor of love supported by the Charles Schwab foundation; Campaign for Black Male Achievement; Common Impact and numerous other organizations invested in helping nonprofit organizations get the access they need to skill-based volunteers. The platform is designed to walk a nonprofit through the seven steps needed to establish their project all the way up to implementation. Capacity Commons hopes to grow this platform to include integration with VolunteerMatch.org and other skill-based volunteer websites making it easier for charities and pro-bono volunteers to connect.

Advantages:

  • Connects nonprofit organizations with skill-based volunteers
  • Platform is free to use
  • Capacity Commons comes with a “Pro-Bono Guidebook” walking users through the scope of their project
  • Will soon integrate with volunteer matching programs such as VolunteerMatch to connect nonprofits with volunteers easily.

Disadvantages:

  • The platform is still in it’s early stages with some kinks that need to be worked out
  • Does not require any documentation proving that a organization is in Higher Ed or has a 501©

My Opinion:

I think Capacity Commons is a great way to connect nonprofits and skill-based volunteers. If I were a charity I would most likely take advantage of this free platform. However, the platform itself has some issues that need to be worked out first.

When I selected “create a project” the screen never loaded onto the next step so I was not able to complete the process of creating and executing a project. My main goal was to see the user face and to report on the ease of use, but I wasn’t able to get past that first step.

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 04 September 2019
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Danielle Loughnane

Danielle Loughnane earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has currently been working in the data science field since 2015. She is the author of a comic book entitled, “The Superhighs” and wrote a blog from 2011-2015 about working in the restaurant industry called, "Sir I Think You've Had Too Much.” In her spare time she likes reading graphic novels and snuggling with her dogs.

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