Career Advice: Consider Micro-Volunteering Through Sparked.com!

A sound piece of career advice is to gain exposure to a variety of tasks and experiences so that you can make better decisions about the types of careers that get business done better while maximizing the presence of tasks you like and skills you enjoy using.  But in industrialized countries, careers are increasingly synonym with 24/7 on-call jobs that leave us with little time to devote to anything but your day job. Of course, if you work for a Benefit Corporation, a values-based business, or a nonprofit that you can believe in, you are everyday, through your work, giving back to society and building a better world.

However, if you are part of the 55% of dissatisfied employees working in Corporate America, you might be wondering what can you do to make a difference when your job feels like a required 24/7 perpetually on call type of commitment. Believe it or not, you can still make a difference! One way to do so is to leverage Sparked.com!

Sparked.com is a micro-volunteering website that is open to both individuals and organizations. Nonprofits list micro-tasks that you can complete in a few minutes (generally less than 15 minutes). You can determine which volunteering opportunities best fit the difference you want to make by selecting your areas of focus (animals, education, civil rights, environment, health, religion, poverty, youth, science, and food).   In addition, you will be able to select the types of skills you want to leverage as a volunteer (choices include graphic design, operations, web development, social media, human resources, IT, public relations, copy writing, marketing, research and fundraising). A piece of career advice here is to set up your account in a way that will enable you to gain volunteering experience that focuses on causes you want to further learn about, or in skills areas you want to refine moving forward.  This is a perfect opportunity for you to test drive tasks that are related to a function or a cause that you are interested in learning more about.

As an individual, you can get started on volunteering today! A quick search on the site on 11/7/2010 enabled me to complete the following tasks while watching an NFL game:

  • Helped ‘Journeys Towards Recovery from Depression’, a nonprofit aiming at improving depression outcomes revamp its vision and mission statements.
  • Provided search engine optimization keywords for ‘Next Door Solution to Domestic Violence, a nonprofit dedicated to helping domestic violence victims.
  • Shared ideas about slogans to help the Microfinance Grameen Foundation compete for free advertising through Google Grants.

Beyond enabling individuals to micro-volunteer, Sparked.com also partners with organizations and businesses of all sizes that are interested in offering micro-volunteering opportunities to their employees. Why would a company do that?  Anyone involved in organizational development knows that to retain top talent, companies of all sizes need to go beyond paying their employees more.   While compensating their employees well counts, companies also know that they can really help each of their employees find a sense of purpose in their work by enabling their employees to volunteer while at work.   By partnering with Sparked.com, big companies such as Google as well as small businesses have found a new way to empower their employees to make a difference while at work.  In addition, Sparked.com takes care of the reporting for these companies. Indeed, through Sparked reports, companies can gather valuable insights related to the time employees have dedicated to volunteer activities, as well as the types of causes or issues that are dear to the heart of their employees. This data is invaluable for companies to learn more about how they can motivate and retain their employees moving forward.

In sum, Sparked.com offers quick and easy ways for individuals and company employees to make a difference through micro-volunteering. As an individual, these micro-volunteering opportunities can help you learn about nonprofit organizations that might align with your future career goals, and offer new career choices you might not have thought of before.

So, next time you are waiting for a conference call to start, are in advance for your next meeting, or need a mini-break to re-energize yourself at work, consider micro-volunteering through Sparked.com! And of course, if your company is not currently affiliated with Sparked.com, consider being the change you want to see and propose that your company partners with Sparked.com as a talent retention initiative!

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