Volunteer-Marketplace-Screenshot

Last spring, a shelter in Berkeley, CA needed an architect to help it expand its facilities. A young architect who lives nearby had just made a New Year’s resolution to join a nonprofit board.

In an earlier era, they would not have known each other existed.

But in this instance the shelter’s executive director used LinkedIn to contact the architect – and the architect jumped at the opportunity to serve on the shelter’s board. The connection brought enormous value to both parties involved – the nonprofit shelter got the expertise it needed and the young architect was able to amplify her social impact while broadening her professional skills.

This story inspired me and my colleagues at LinkedIn. As someone who studies and invests (as a venture capitalist) in internet marketplaces, I realized the somewhat serendipitous connection between architect and shelter would happen more often if there were a dedicated volunteer marketplace. After all, there are hundreds of thousands of “nonprofit needs” in the world, and even more professionals who want to donate their skills to help meet these needs.

The challenge is that nonprofits and professionals don’t know how to easily find each other. LinkedIn Volunteer Marketplace aims to solve that problem.

Changing the professional definition of “opportunity”

When I talk with LinkedIn members, many tell me they aren’t actively looking for traditional job opportunities. Instead, they want to hone or leverage their skills while also making a positive impact on the world.

Students often fall into this category. Retired professionals and stay-at-home parents seek ways to continue to leverage their skills and experience. And while busy professionals who love their current gigs may not necessarily be looking for a new position, these are often the very people who are most actively engaged in “meaningful searches” – a volunteer opportunity that will enhance their life in ways beyond what their primary vocation provides.

By providing opportunities for all these different kinds of LinkedIn members, we aim to help the social sector by doing what we do best as a company: connecting talent with opportunity at massive scale.

And to ensure that the volunteer opportunities you see in the LinkedIn Volunteer Marketplace are high quality, we’re partnering with the most trusted organizations in this space, including Catchafire, Taproot Foundation, BoardSource and VolunteerMatch.

Volunteering solves a major issue for nonprofits

Talent is as critical to the nonprofit sector as it is to the for-profit sector. Estimates suggest that approximately two million board seats need to be filled each year and according to a Taproot Foundation study, 92% of nonprofits would like to use skilled volunteers to help them achieve their mission.

To date, more than three million LinkedIn members have added the Volunteer and Causes section to their profile.

Over the last six months alone, more than 600,000 have signaled they would like to serve on a board or do skill-based volunteering.

Today, with the launch of LinkedIn Volunteer Marketplace, non-profits can discover the relevant members who’ve expressed interest in volunteering. In addition, these members will now be able to browse hundreds – and eventually thousands – of specific, high-quality volunteer opportunities that nonprofits are seeking to fill.

Volunteering is good for your career, too

Volunteering is a great way to hone your existing skills, develop new professional skills, and network with like-minded colleagues. In a recent survey on LinkedIn, 42% of hiring managers stated they consider volunteer work equivalent to full-time work experience. 20% said they’d hired someone because of their volunteer experience.

Fulfilling Our Vision

LinkedIn’s vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. Jeff and I have discussed this vision in terms of the development of the world’s first economic graph, i.e. a complete digital representation of the global economy, including all full-time, part-time, and volunteer opportunities.

By incorporating volunteer opportunities into the Economic Graph, the right talent will be more likely to find the right non-profit opportunities, which we think is key to solving some of the world’s great challenges.

We know that many professionals have already added volunteering to their New Year’s resolution list. With the launch of LinkedIn Volunteer Marketplace, we’d like to help you keep that promise to yourself. Here’s to a personally and professionally rewarding 2014!