LinkedIn Launches ‘Volunteer Marketplace’

January 16, 2014       Mark Hrywna      

Nonprofits can now leverage the more than 250 million members of LinkedIn to find volunteers with the launch this week of the LinkedIn Volunteer Marketplace.

Members can locate skill-based volunteer opportunities and nonprofit board positions while nonprofits can access an online network of 250 million professionals worldwide to find people who are interested in giving their time. LinkedIn partnered with VolunteerMatch, BoardSource, Catchafire and Taproot Foundation and has been testing the Volunteer Marketplace for months, according to Meg Garlinghouse, head of LinkedIn for Good.

“We know members want to use their skills to change the world and volunteer,” Garlinghouse said. In a survey of LinkedIn members, 82 percent said they want to volunteer their time and skills and more than 40 percent of hiring managers consider volunteer work equivalent to full-time work. One in five hiring managers said they hired someone because of volunteer experience, Garlinghouse said.

Nonprofits can post volunteer opportunities through the same process that they can post job openings, with a 90-percent discount, which works out to about $20 to $40. Garlinghouse said the reason for the fee is quality control. “We want people to stop and think, be thoughtful about what they’re posting,” she said, adding that revenues generated from the fee will be reinvested into capacity-building initiatives to improve the program. Nonprofits also will have the option of posting through the four partner organizations.

More than three million LinkedIn members have added the Volunteer and Causes section to their profiles, according to Garlinghouse. Of those three million, 600,000 indicated an interest in serving on a nonprofit board or skill-based volunteering after the feature was launched as pilot in August. “We know there’s strong demand from our members to find and engage with those opportunities,” she said. There’s more demand than supply at this point with more than 500 opportunities available as of Wednesday’s launch but nonprofits also can search to find people with specific criteria.

There will be two ways nonprofit leaders can find either a candidate for a board or for pro bono work: posting the opportunity to a network or using the search tool to find the right professional. The feature also will be integrated into LinkedIn’s weekly emails. “It will match what we know about you and your interests with what you want to do,” she said.

The search function was activated as part of today’s release, after the pilot launched last year to compile a critical mass of volunteer opportunities. On average, about 10 applications were received for each posting, Garlinghouse said.

LinkedIn launched Board Member Connect a year ago, which nonprofit executives can use to reach out and search for potential board members based on specific criteria in a user’s profile, and then use LinkedIn’s InMail to contact them.

Garlinghouse suggests that charities not limit their searches only to those who signaled an interest in serving on boards, pointing to herself as an example; she never signaled an interest in volunteering but now serves on two nonprofit boards, including VolunteerMatch. To date, about 1,500 nonprofits are using LinkedIn’s Board Member Connect.

“What we’re really noticing from our members, and maybe it’s a sign of the times or the millennial generation, but professionals really are interested in using their talents to change the world,” Garlinghouse said. “We’re bullish about the type of social change our members might be able to create.”