Sparked: The Noble Microvolunteering Network

Whether you’ve only got minutes of free time or have a week to kill, you might like some more productive way to use your time than simply watching TV. On the other hand, non profit organizations are usually under staffed and are looking for someone to lend a helping hand. Yes, you can send them money to carry out their activities or offer your expert services instead. But how do you know what kind of help nonprofits are seeking and how long the commitment might be?

Sparked makes it easy for busy people to give back. The web app assists people with expertise in various verticals find the right nonprofit task to lend their professional skills whenever and wherever they find time to spare. Interested in giving back to your community? Here’s one interesting way you can find a way to give back to a cause you love doing things you love best.

What’s Microvolunteering?

Overview

Overview

Most of us live incredibly busy lives. Hence it might not be possible to take time off in stretches to volunteer at a nonprofit organization. However, we might have an hour or few hours occasionally to spare. That’s were Sparked comes in. With their motto “convenient online volunteering“, the app helps you find the right task that fits right into your interests and the time that you can spare. Since you get to volunteer no matter whether you have got 10 minutes or hours of free time, it’s called microvolunteering.

Getting Started

Choosing the Causes

Choosing the Causes

From a beautifully designed page, select the domains that suit your interests. Then you will be redirected to a page that lists a bunch of skills. Choose the ones you are an expert in to move forward. You can select multiple items in both these steps.

Selecting Your Interests

Selecting Your Interests

After a few seconds, the app matches your interests with like minded volunteers and displays the number of challenges awaiting you. You can sign up to the service using your existing Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and other popular social network accounts via OAuth.

Picking Challenges

Getting Started

Getting Started

Nonprofits post “challenges”, or tasks that need attention, to the network. As a microvolunteer, the first step is for you to pick the challenges that grab your attention. Sparked’s challenge matching engine recommends a series of challenges based on the your skills and interests you have mentioned earlier.

Choosing a Challenge

Choosing a Challenge

The app displays some questions based on three different parameters – algorithm recommendations, your skills and the causes that matter to you. Toggle the tabs to see the respective challenges.

The type of work required from you – even after selecting your skills – are varied. Some challenges are just questions that need answers and some are a bit more elaborate. For example, one of the first challenges the algorithm assigned me was a question if a hospital should go with Twitter or Foursquare for social media campaigns.

A Challenge

A Challenge

From a different tab, the challenges were different – they ranged from setting up a blog to helping in carrying out a comprehensive social media campaign. The challenges aren’t perpetual and they all expire after a certain period of time specified by the nonprofit. So, hurry up to grab the right challenges before they are taken down.

Responding to Challenges

There is a very good chance, in many cases, that some fellow volunteers might have responded to a challenge before you. In that case, if you have specific feedback or something relevant to add to it, use the comments feature. Found a response that blows your mind? Vote it up to reinforce it. On the contrary, if you found an offensive comment make sure to flag it for the moderators to see.

Responding to a Challenge

Responding to a Challenge

If you have a totally new line of thought, use the text box at the bottom of the page to do so. In addition to basic text formatting and image upload options, there’s also an option to insert HTML code or attach documents to your reply.

Accessing Profiles

From the challenges page, you can see the list of fellow do-gooders. Click on their names to access their profile page. Just like the rest of the web app, these profile pages are designed with finesse too. Each and every profile page serves as a proud proclamation of the volunteering achievements of individuals.

Volunteer Profile Page

Volunteer Profile Page

In addition to a scorecard that prominently showcases the number of challenges they have taken up, the number of thumbs up votes and excellence awards they have received so far are shown as well. Displaying the commendations and thank you notes received from the nonprofit organization that appreciates their work is a cool idea!

Final Thoughts

Not only is the concept of the app beautiful, but its design is, too. The refreshing user interface reinforces my hypothesis that gorgeous interfaces make visitors stay longer in the website. However, it does look a lot like Kickstarter at times.

Sparked succeeds with flying colors in helping people use their spare time usefully. Their idea to allow people to spend two minutes or two hours of time benefits both individuals and nonprofits. I have taken up microvolunteering. So should you!

Share Your Thoughts!

How do you usually volunteer your time? Will Sparked increase the number of hours you spend on volunteering every week?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.