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Why ChangeMachine is Different!

December 5, 2010

So we have been getting a lot of question lately from people interested in our project about why ChangeMachine is different from any of the social volunteering sites (a la Jumo, myImpact or Crowdrise) or microvolunteering sites (well, there is only one I believe, Sparked). That is a super important question actually, and it is most definitely deserving of a nifty list:

  • First of all, let me first address the more “social volunteering sites.” This might sound a little rude, but those sites aren’t really volunteering sites at all. Jumo is really just a fancy version of Facebook Causes except you are linking up with nonprofits instead of other people. The problem there is that not much actual work is getting done, other than the benefits of brand recognition and popularity (which are important, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t work). There is a good article written on the subject here. My favorite part is this sentence,

“Users can follow a specific cause or organization, but it wasn’t exactly clear how users could contribute to or interact with the charity of their choice. Jumo representatives could not be immediately reached for comment.”

  • myImpact also does not provide any kind of volunteering opportunities, it is really just a posting board integrated with your Facebook which acts as a log for volunteering hours. There is certainly a use for this, and it encourages people to volunteer, but it does not provide opportunities itself. We at ChangeMachine feel that allowing people to volunteer instantly online is the basis for a great volunteer website.
  • Now there is from the Extraordinaries. The site really is amazing, and it is in fact where a good deal of our inspiration comes from. And the Extraordinaries should certainly get the credit for coming up with micro-volunteering. However, as I talked about here in the post about The Issues Facing Micro-Volunteering, they are missing a few things. But besides that, we are very different products. Sparked is marketed toward the whole world, in fact they say they are marketing towards busy professionals. We are looking towards college students because we believe that they have the most both to offer and to receive from micro-volunteering. Also, and this is a big one, we take as our single most important tenant that

Live, intuitive collaboration is essential to delivering high quality products in a timely manner to nonprofits

That’s it folks, that is what we are all about. And that part, live easy collaboration is impossible on any other site. That is what we hope to bring to the world. That is why we are ChangeMachine.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2010 9:10 am

    Micro Volunteering – Untapped Potential with Some Apparent Wrinkles to Work Out

    Although a number of areas appear to require further elucidation, micro volunteering seems to have untapped potential in our ever expanding and changing technological age. To place micro volunteering in context, I will briefly provide an overview of online volunteering (also known as Virtual Volunteering or Internet-based volunteering).

    Micro-Volunteering within the Context of Online Volunteering

    In essence, online volunteering enables an individual to contribute to a non-profit organization (or NGO) of their choosing from the comfort of their home (or similar venue) via an Internet connected computer. I began pioneering online volunteering with a Canadian charity in 1998, wherein I had the opportunity (and privilege) to work with Internet-based volunteers from around the globe. These highly-skilled cyber Samaritans, who were motivated by a myriad of reasons, performed a range of tasks such as video editing, PSA audio production, voice overs, tutoring, programming, photography, word processing, photo retouching, illustration and design. A volunteer management process was developed and employed that focused on the identification, articulation and means of achieving organizational needs, recruitment/retention, risk management (e.g., screening, logical assignments) and evaluation. As is evident, a number of proposed (or considered appropriate) “micro-volunteering” tasks have been performed successfully by Virtual Volunteers (Online Volunteers) for years.

    Micro-Volunteering: Unanswered Questions

    From my above online volunteering frame of reference, micro volunteering appears to have a number of areas that require further refinement. Without the luxury of a full macro analysis of micro volunteering at hand, the following questions appear salient as a starting point for further dialogue:

    1. What specific routine and meaningful micro-volunteering tasks can be performed in what (reasonable/realistic) time frame and how will these said micro-volunteering tasks mesh (conceptually and in practice) with similar/same virtual volunteering tasks?
    2. For those micro volunteers involved with sensitive information or non-profit clients, what type and extent of screening will/should be undertaken?
    3. With limited resources, how will a non-profit manage (e.g., screen, co-ordinate, appropriately assign, supervise, document and evaluate) numerous volunteers involved in micro volunteering (such as, 100 volunteers involved in two minute tasks)?
    4. What motivates individuals to engage in what types of micro volunteering?
    5. Are there certain types of non-profit organizations (based on such variables as: mission, structure, size, geographic area, resources and/or budget) that are best suited for micro volunteering (meaning micro volunteering efforts will result in the most impact, however that may be defined, for the non-profit)?
    6. Are there specific types of tasks with certain types of non-profit organizations which attract specific micro volunteers?
    7. Continuous recruiting is a significant resource drain. What methods and strategies will assist in retaining micro volunteers?
    8. What specific types of devices using what type of Internet connections are best for micro volunteering?
    9. What motivates non-profits to embrace micro volunteering?

    As technology evolves and best practices surface, micro volunteering will be further refined and its potential more fully realized.

    For further information about how a non profit organization can develop a productive virtual volunteering program through the use of appropriate technology, please visit or

    … continue the dialogue!

    Randy Tyler
    Pioneering Online Volunteering Program Development Since 1998

  2. Anonymous permalink
    December 7, 2010 1:47 am

    What about

  3. Paul Kaplan permalink*
    December 7, 2010 1:44 pm

    Catchafire is an interesting organization, but they aim at real professionals. That is, people with very advanced skills in their area. The service is only in NYC because participants are supposed to get together to deliver products. We are aiming to college students and want all services to exist on the web.
    We at ChangeMachine believe if we can make an interface which is live and and intuitive, it will be far more powerful than local collaboration.

    Thanks for the post!


  1. The difference between “talk” and “action” « ChangeMachine
  2. An Introduction to Micro-Volunteering: Part 1 « ChangeMachine

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