Archive | September, 2010

Catchafire Events this Fall

27 Sep

Catchafire’s out and about this Fall! See where we’ve been and where we’re going + join us for any of our coming events. It’s gonna be a blast!

30 Summit, Labor Day Weekend – What will your legacy be? On Labor Day Weekend 2010 in New York City, the Thirty Summit gathered 30 young American leaders under the age of 35 from all sectors – business, law, NGOs, politics, medicine, fine arts, technology – who want the power to re-shape the country. Rachael, our Founder & CEO, presented this year.

RECESS Bocce Ball, 9/11/2010 – Recess by definition, is the opportunity to be temporarily dismissed from customary activities; and RECESS, the company, organizes an ongoing series of sports and games that redefines our shared philosophy of play by fusing healthy sportsmanship, unbridled creativity and the people responsible for that creativity. Catchafire participated in a c0mpetitively healthy game of Bocce winning against FlavorPill, Saatchi + Saachi and Kickstarter to rise to the quarterfinals only to get trounced by the amazing accuracy of the Red Antler team.

6 Degrees of Duke, 9/21/2010 – Rachael a Duke alum (MPP ’09) spoke about “The Value of Volunteering” for your career after graduation.

YNPN Fall Kickoff Event, 9/22/2010 – Young Nonprofit Professionals Network NYC Chapter hosted a networking event featuring Catchafire. Rachael shared the inside scoop on Catchafire and our business model with nonprofit leaders who participated in a robust Q&A session afterwards.

Prime Produce Prom, 9/25/2010 – At the first annual Prime Produce Prom, an open fundraiser for charitable organizations in NYC, Catchafire gave away a project to She’s the First, a media campaign that promotes the importance of educating girls who would otherwise not have the opportunity to go to school.

Digital Summit (Dumbo Arts Festival), 9/26/2010 Catchafire demoed its new site at Digital Summit and hosted a panel featuring six of our nonprofits including Champion Access, Global Cocoa Project, Network 355, Pando Projects, The Blind Project, and Women’s Education Project.

Planning-ness 2010, 9/30/2010, 5-7PM at Galapagos Art Space – Catchafire and The Talent Business are hosting drinks after the first day of Planning-ness, the un-conference for planners, creatives and designers.

Columbia Business School Social Enterprise Conference, Social Impact Pitch Competition, 10/8/2010, 3:30-4:30PM at Alfred Lerner Hall – The Social Impact Pitch Competition will feature emerging social entrepreneurs in a variety of fields who will be allotted two minutes to pitch their enterprise to a panel of judges. Judges will give feedback, rate each competitor, and select a winner.

New York Tech Meet up (NYTM), 10/12/2010, 7PM at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts – Come see Catchafire’s CEO, Rachael Chong, and CTO, Andrew Lin, demo our new site at the NYTM in October!

The Feast Conference after party, 10/15/2010 – Details to come

Grassroots Camp Meetup – Details to come

Net Impact Conference, Lunch Panel: Revolutionizing the way people volunteer, 10/30/2010, 12:30PM, Ann Arbor, MI – Catchafire is hosting a panel with The Extraordinaries and Taproot Foundation, moderated by Tara Greco from APCO Worldwide. Gain more than you give through volunteering. This panel highlights new volunteer solutions that are designed to give you (the highly skilled professional) a better volunteer experience. Learn about solutions that give you the opportunity to volunteer your skills (, volunteer while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office (The Extraordinaries), and volunteer in a team (Taproot). These new models are changing the way people volunteer and the way that nonprofits and social enterprises think about and utilize volunteers.


Catchafire Beta is live!

23 Sep

Go to the same, but BOOM, what a new look! However, we promise you, Beta’s more than just a pretty face.

Some of Beta’s new site features include:

  • Dashboard – volunteers and organizations can now view and act on all of their Catchafire volunteer matches through a single page
  • Project Logs – volunteers and volunteer managers can now keep track of their progress on Catchafire Projects
  • Project Qualification Quizzes – volunteers are now required to pass a short quiz before they are approved for Catchafire Projects
  • LinkedIn Resume Import – users can now selectively pull in Linkedin experience data
  • Facebook Connect Login – users can now use their Facebook credentials to access the Catchafire site

Catchafire has also expanded Project Menu with a set of new project templates, rounding out the set to including strategy, finance, technology, marketing, public relations, social media, multimedia, and design projects.

“Catchafire is game-changing for the nonprofit community because, with a few clicks of a mouse, we can now find volunteers that provide us with the professional services that we’ve always needed but could never afford,” said Shana Dressler, Executive Director of the Global Cocoa Project, which supports cocoa farmers around the world. “I’ve used three Catchafire volunteers to date, and they have been committed, passionate, and professional. With their help, Global Cocoa Project is making a bigger impact on the cocoa farmers we serve. Catchafire will improve the way that nonprofits operate. I am sure of it.”

What a testimonial! Thanks Shana.

We hope that we make you feel just as good about working with us.

Katie Sherman, freelance copywriter, talks about her volunteer experience with Room to Grow.

21 Sep

Three Tiers for Room to Grow: A Press Kit Revamp
By Katie Sherman

A press kit is often treated like a junk drawer: left-over brochures; letterhead with copy from old donor letters; and exhaustive, double-sided lists of donors. It’s a surprise there aren’t half-full packages of birthday candles and Domino flyers too.

I know this because my first project was a Press Kit for Room to Grow.

No red tape
One thing surprised me: No bureaucratic back-and-forth at Jane placed me with my project just a week after registering. I met with Room to Grow’s executive director (a savvy, no-nonsense woman with a nose for insight) three Mondays in a row. That’s it. No scheduling conflicts that come with team-based volunteering. And never too many chefs in the kitchen.

Press kits aren’t for press
In many nonprofits, press kits are actually for funders – not investigative journalists. So there needs to be an instant get. The press kit revamp has readers nodding instantly. Yes. I get it. You do 2 things: redistribute baby items to low-income moms and provide parental coaching. And the meetings are every three months, just like the size charts of infant clothes.

A tiered strategy
In just three weeks, we nailed the killer messaging strategy below.

Room to Grow does two things:

1. Redistribute baby items to low-income moms
2. Provide parental coaching from a social worker

Yet they had never said this succinctly. To get it across, we used a tiered strategy: On the left-hand side of the kit three pages stood at different heights.

Babies outgrow infant clothes.
Women grow into motherhood.
Help us give them Room to Grow.

Each page nails it’s respective story line: Items – Coaching – Get Involved.

Statistics and quotes from donors, volunteers, corporate partners, and clients are also incorporated. Plus, we weeded out dozens of press tearsheets and kept only the ones that include client interviews/stories. Now, the junk drawer is clearly organized. And just in time for holiday fundraising.

Gootman adds Strategy Project to the Catchafire Project Menu!

7 Sep

Jennifer Gootman adds Strategy Project to the Catchafire Project Menu!

Jennifer Gootman is Global Goods Partners’ new Director of Product and Business Development. Jennifer helped Catchafire create a new Strategy Project Template for our Project Menu – Market Analysis for Income-Generating Organizations.

Global Goods Partners (GGP) is a non-profit dedicated to empowering women, alleviating poverty and promoting social justice. GGP partners with community-based organizations in marginalized regions of Asia, Africa, and the Americas, creating access to the U.S. market for its partners’ handcrafted products and providing technical assistance and grants to build sustainable livelihoods. Shop online at

Jennifer Gootman has ten years experience working with economic development and arts-focused nonprofits and social enterprises. As part of her social sector career, Jennifer has led communications for an art gallery, run a magazine and think tank, and planned and implemented a distribution and scaling strategy for a jewelry business that trains and employs disadvantaged youth.

Jennifer shares the background story on the creation of our two new strategy projects and why Global Goods Partners is seeking a skills-based volunteer to conduct a Market Analysis for Income-Generating Organizations.

Can you tell us a bit about this new project and why you suggested that we add them to the Project Menu?

The exact population that you are trying to reach and what kind of needs that community has should be the basis for determining what services you offer and how you provide them. I just got an MBA from NYU Stern and you can’t leave business school without having that idea strongly implanted in your mind. I think of an organization’s mission as its proposed solution to a market need. For organizations that are resource constrained, understanding your market can help you focus and direct the limited resources that you have in the best way. Many nonprofits may not be used to thinking about the communities that they serve or the needs that they address as a “market,” but I think it’s an incredibly valuable exercise for analyzing how well you are serving your mission. I was excited to help add this strategy project to Catchafire’s Project Menu to help nonprofits and social enterprises think about how to serve their intended market more strategically.

It may come as a surprise to most people, but the majority of nonprofits operating in the US have some source of earned income and some receive a considerable portion of their operating budgets from these businesses. Just as any business needs to analyze the existing market, competitors, growth trends, and market needs, a nonprofit’s earned income venture will be stronger and more successful if it’s addressing a real market need and knows where to look for growth.  The Market Analysis for Income-Generating Organizations project provides nonprofits the opportunity to gain this insight via a skilled Catchafire volunteer.

Tell us about Global Goods Partners and why you are looking for a Catchafire volunteer to help with Market Analysis?

Global Goods Partners is a nonprofit that provides market access and technical assistance for women artisans in Africa, Asia, and the Americas as a means of poverty alleviation and female empowerment. We work with community groups that are committed to creating sustainable livelihoods and have affiliated health and education components for their members. We sell handmade, fair trade products from our 40 partners in nearly 20 different countries through our website

Even though we’re a nonprofit and we’re motivated by mission, we run a retail and wholesale business with the same kinds of concerns that any other business of its kind would face. Understanding our market will help us better serve our partners by increasing sales and visibility. What types of products we buy, how we position the work that we do, where we promote ourselves, and what kind of partnerships that I spend my time on all flow out of an understanding of who our market is now and whether that’s where we can make the most impact and gain the most traction. Too often nonprofits try to be everything to everyone, which can end up diluting all of your work. I think this market analysis will help us stay focused on opportunities for growth that, in the end, directly impact the lives of women artisans across the globe.

The benefit of having a Catchafire volunteer is that they bring their professional skills from other sectors (whether that be private, public or non-profit) and provide Global Goods Partners with a fresh approach to strategy.  Catchafire volunteers offer new insights that we could not have gained through utilizing our own resources.

As a nonprofit organization with earned income streams, what can you share with organizations looking to create earned income streams?

Earned income can be a great way to diversify your revenue streams, but can also take resources away from your primary mission. Any venture should be carefully considered and should be mission-related rather than come out of left field. Once you start a business, you’re competing with all of the other for-profits out there, so you have to be sure that you can offer something that people need and are willing to pay for or you’re not going to have any customers! There are lots of organizations that have done valuable research on the theme.

Watch Jennifer speak about her cause! Check out this video!

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