Archive | November, 2010

Nassima volunteers her skills & saves Global Cocoa Project $6,000!

29 Nov

By Nassima Lauzon

I moved from Montreal to New York City a few months ago. I didn’t know much about the city so I started looking for ways to understand its dynamic spirit. I thought about volunteering because I had time to offer and I always wanted to help and to be part of the solution.

My first volunteering experience was managing a campus coffee shop while I was an undergraduate student. After graduating, I worked for the ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in Tunisia to establish the Tunisian-Canadian Chamber of Commerce. When I came back from Tunisia, I volunteered with a professional association to help Canadian companies explore African markets.

At first, I couldn’t find a volunteering organization that suited what I wanted: professional volunteering as I call it. Even though there are hundreds of nonprofit organizations that needed pro-bono help from professionals, it was either too complicated, the description too vague, or I received no response after posting my profile.

I found out about through a Tech Founders meeting. When I explored the website, I was really impressed by the project menu and descriptions. Two weeks after I finalized my profile, I received an offer to help the Global Cocoa Project with their brand identity, saving the organization $6,000. is not just a website. There are people behind it that are working hard to make the process quick and easy for both organizations and volunteers. Catchafire is helping me volunteer for important and well-defined projects with solid organizations that work every day to make a significant change. It’s a matter of giving, sharing, and learning.

Don’t miss the monthly happy hours. It’s a great occasion to meet with amazing people including the Catchafire team.


Tiffany Sun, Editor at volunteers a Social Media Plan

22 Nov

As an editor at, I’ve seen firsthand how powerful social media can be in promoting our brand and content while creating a dialogue and a deeper way to connect with our consumers. Traditional marketing can be costly to cash-strapped nonprofits and social enterprises, and I was eager to help InVenture, a micro venture capital fund that supports entrepreneurs in developing countries, use social media to expand their digital presence and attract new investors.

I was immediately inspired by my first conversation with Shivani Siroya, the CEO and founder of InVenture, who’s on a mission to connect everyday individuals with small business owners around the world who seek to lift their communities out of poverty. What’s more, many of these entrepreneurs are women who gain financial respect in their communities as a result of their ability to expand their businesses – an issue that’s resonated with me ever since reading Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky.

About a week after Catchafire paired me up with InVenture, Soni Midha, the director of marketing, invited me to a New York fundraiser. I was immediately thrust into volunteer mode, approaching bar patrons during happy hour to talk about InVenture’s mission. Over the next couple of months, Soni and I would meet regularly at Manhattan coffee shops, armed with laptops, iPads, and a plethora of notes.

We immediately agreed that InVenture needed to maintain a presence on multiple platforms in order to reach fans and potential investors wherever they are – Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Youtube, and more. InVenture already had profiles created on most of these platforms; we simply had to maximize their potential by cross-promoting between the platforms , creating dialogue, and showcasing the individuals behind the organization in a more personal way. Rather than simply sharing news and events with fans and followers, we used them as focus groups to make improvements to InVenture’s website and user experience. Eventually we discussed video strategy, search-engine optimization, and online community-building, all subjects that come up on a daily basis at work – except this didn’t feel like work!

This summer, InVenture had two amazing fellows on the ground in Mexico, and we found a way for them to share their adventures with local entrepreneurs in an honest, compelling way on the InVenture fellows’ blog. Tumblr was a crucial platform for telling the InVenture story from the field and from within the organization, giving current and potential investors the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the organization and its mission. I look forward to watching InVenture grow as it reaches more investors and changes underserved communities for the better, one business at a time.

What’s the deal with working for a start-up?

18 Nov

People often ask me, ‘so what exactly do you do for Catchafire?’

Short answer: Marketing and Communications Lead. This is my title.

I joined Catchafire in July this year as ‘Marketing and Communications Lead.’ I came to establish and execute marketing initiatives.  Coming from a retail banking background where large marketing departments (containing multiple functions such as brand, acquisition and retention) are crucial to sales, I was certain that marketing is what Catchafire needed to grow.

I got to work building a marketing strategy consisting of Google paid search, Facebook advertising, social media outreach and experiential campaigns.  I dove right in thinking that I had a good enough understanding of the business and our volunteers to build an effective marketing campaign.

However, a few months later, a few thousand dollars less, and very few results, I knew that paid search and Facebook advertising just weren’t working.  This was very surprising to me because these channels are generally known to be very cost-effective, yielding strong results.  But we just weren’t ready for paid marketing. We needed to build a brand and a community of followers first. So my role shifted to community building, with more focus on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  In a few months we grew our twitter follower base from just 2,000 to 5,500 followers.  These followers were engaging in conversation with us, retweeting our tweets and spreading our mission.  They were signing up as volunteers and nonprofits were as well. We now had a Catchafire community and a much larger volunteer base.

We also realized that we needed to know our customers better. We needed to understand our customer’s experiences with our technology so that we could optimize and provide a more efficient and effective service.  And so my role shifted again. I became responsible for volunteer engagement.

The truth is that  working for a start-up is nothing like working for an established company. In Corporate America (or Australia), you have  role and that role is by and large pretty set. You know what you’re there to do and and you have clear deliverables.  In a start-up environment, what you know is that you don’t know.  You have to be flexible and be willing to ride the roller coaster heading for the unknown.  You have to be prepared that your role will change as often as week-to-week, as you and your colleagues learn more about the business’s needs.  Whilst this all sounds unpredictable and uncertain, trust me, working for a start-up is the best experience you’ll ever get.

So what do I do for Catchafire? A whole lot of a bit of everything!

Catchafire is Hiring a Nonprofit Sales Manager!

18 Nov

We’re Hiring!

Catchafire is one of the hottest new technology companies in New York City with a social mission. Now that our powerful Beta website is live, we are scaling quickly. Only apply if you’re looking to join a fast-paced, nimble and hard-working team and are hungry to change the world.

About us

Catchafire is a web based solution that matches nonprofits and social enterprises (“organizations”) with skilled volunteers. We are changing the way people volunteer and the way that organizations both find and utilize skilled volunteers. Our platform allows organizations to identify their needs as short-term, discrete, individual projects, which Catchafire then matches to volunteer profiles in our system. Catchafire’s mission is to improve the quality of the volunteer experience, and our vision is a world where it’s easy for every professional to volunteer their skills and for every nonprofit and social enterprise to access and effectively use skilled volunteers.

Catchafire is located in New York, NY. This position is open immediately.

Please don’t apply unless you meet all of the following criteria:

You are motivated by the opportunity to:

1) put your mark on an early-stage start-up,
2) chart uncharted waters in your job, and
3) make the world a better place.

You are:

1) an independent worker and thinker,
2) team-oriented,
3) hardworking and resourceful,
4) trustworthy, and
5) have a sense of humor.

If you possess all of the above, read below for more information and how to apply:

How to apply

Please email Rachael Chong,, with your resume. It would also be nice if you could send a cover letter along with your resume to let us know why you’re interested in working with us and why you think you’d be a great fit.

Nonprofit Sales Manager

You will be responsible for developing a successful nonprofit sales model, building and managing a nonprofit sales team to meet our revenue and social mission goals. You will serve our nonprofit and social enterprise customers to deliver high quality matches at scale. The right candidate will view this role as an opportunity to be an integral part of a team that’s pioneering for-profit social mission business and revolutionizing the way that people volunteer to make significant social change. Success in this role will afford you the opportunity to share in the success of this company as part owner.

Your responsibilities and our expectations

  • Develop a strategy to make large numbers of project sales to our nonprofit and social enterprise customers
  • Build and manage the nonprofit sales team
  • Figure out the right pricing strategy for our nonprofit and social enterprise clients
  • Cultivate partnerships to drive nonprofit sales to our site
  • Ensure that business growth is in alignment with Catchafire’s social mission and vision
  • Support and strengthen organizational culture, values and reputation
  • Participate with the management team to make key business decisions
  • Directly report to the CEO


  • Bachelor’s degree a must. MBA a plus.
  • At least 5 years of work experience driving sales revenue and marketing initiatives and/or business development
  • Demonstrated strong analytical and business background necessary to establish relationships at the “C” level and drive company business
  • Ability to develop, plan, implement and manage sales and marketing initiatives to maximize sales and profits consistent with the goals of the company
  • Experience assisting in the creation of long-term strategic plans for a company
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills
  • Exceptional communication (written and verbal) skills
  • Exceptional persuasion and negotiation skills
  • Motivation to develop a long term career in business development, marketing or sales
  • Proven leadership in a team-based environment
  • Exceptional ability to execute on ideas
  • Motivation to work in a fast-paced, goal oriented environment and thrive under pressure
  • Enthusiasm to chip in and do anything that helps the team. Nothing is beneath you.

Compensation & Benefits

  • Competitive base salary and commission on top
  • Comprehensive benefits
  • Options (negotiable)

CEO of DonorsChoose.Org gets matched with volunteer Stephen Messer, Founder & CEO of LinkShare!

18 Nov

Milena, age 26, starts her own nonprofit Pando Projects

15 Nov

My name is Milena Arciszewski and I’m starting an organization called PandoProjects.  My goal with Pando is to create a platform that helps Americans to fix the problems in their communities and work together to create a better world.

I’m 26 and when I first started working on Pando, I was completely overwhelmed.  One of my major challenges was  simply defining my vision.  Towards the beginning it was so big and so nebulous that I couldn’t explain what I was trying to do.  My pitch was horrendous because, well… I hadn’t figured out my message!

I was excited to be matched with a Catchafire volunteer who had work experience with branding and communications.  She had exactly the skills I was looking for, and helped me to develop my brand and message.  While I didn’t ultimately use the product she proposed, our conversations helped me to develop the motto, tag-line, and one-pager that I needed.  I will definitely consider using Catchafire volunteers again.

As a side note, Rachael, Jane and Emily are awesome people that can break it down on the dance floor! What more can you ask for?

For more information about Pando, check out or follow @PandoProjects on Twitter.

Check out this Catchafire duo! Rach & Jane chat it up at Pipeline

11 Nov
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