How could I write a blog post on volunteerism apps without mentioning the industry leader? VolunteerMatch is a quality resource that went mobile in 2010. They have facilitated over 6 million volunteer referrals since 1998 and continuing to grow with new technologies has certainly been a key to their success. While other websites’ reviews of this app I have seen say it has a boring design and some iPhone user reviews say it regularly crashes, I am a fan of this app. I love that it brings all of the details of their tens of thousands of online listings to the mobile crowd. VolunteerMatch is my go-to place both for finding my own personal volunteer tasks and for posting non-profit volunteer needs.
Catalista takes it to the next level. While VolunteerMatch does have a rating function, Catalista’s focus is to make volunteering more social and interactive online. The time before and after a volunteer engagement effect a volunteer’s experience, too, so it’s wonderful to see that this generation has a place to have the interaction continue in their own way. For each volunteer opportunity, you have the option to rate it, share it, map it, log your hours, add to your faves, and of course, sign up. The sharing is limited to Facebook and email. The rating is youthful in it’s language (Would you recommend this to your friends? 1 = No way, 5 = Totally!) I like the “add to faves” option where you can save an opportunity to “My Catalista” for later. The general overall design and tone is right on for the audience (and very appealing to me personally).
Bottom Line: Adding a modern twist to a time-tested model, and gets the job done beautifully.
Then we come to the most complex of the three. Cause.it takes Catalista and adds in some Groupon and Zynga. I love the creativity here. You search for an activity that will help the world in some way – It can be an in-person volunteer task or you can post a promo for an organization to your Facebook profile. Each activity is worth a certain number of points (for example, 30 points to be a patient care volunteer at a hospice). Now here’s the especially unique part — You can redeem those points for real-life items and deals (10 points for 20% off your order at a pizzeria). You sign in with your Facebook account and it can be pretty addictive. On top of the opportunities to win, there is the pride of showing up on the leaderboard (the “Indy”), which currently has Daniel S. at the top with 200 points. There is tremendous potential here, but there isn’t enough content (especially volunteer opportunities that aren’t just posting to Facebook) yet. I hope it continues to reach more non-profits, businesses, and volunteers. This is an impressive example of cause marketing.
Bottom Line: Inspired and inspiring framework, just lacking some fleshing out from the community.