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5 Tips for Building a Great Culture for your Social Good Organization

28 Jun

Build Culture. Grow Impact.

At Catchafire, building the right culture is a priority. It’s central to maintaining a happy and productive team. It’s key to retaining and recruiting amazing and dynamic talent. The right culture spurs creative problem solving and pushes innovation – key elements that are especially important to a growing a social good organization. Here are top 5 tips for building your social good organization’s culture:

  1. Hire people better than you:  Hire people that will compliment your team’s strengths and address areas of weakness. The goal is to hire new talent that will encourage others to be better and push themselves harder, personally and professionally, as a result of the new person’s presence.
  1. Hire People Invested in your Social Mission: There are many do-gooders and changemakers in the world. Hiring people interested in doing good is not enough. Hire people that are invested in your specific social mission. They will likely have more ownership of your social mission and be thoughtful and driven to achieve it.
  1. Build a Culture of Shipping: In launching a new product, service, or project, do not shoot for perfection. Aspire to ship quickly, and iterate, iterate, and iterate. We have standing meetings to limit lengthy meetings. While ideation is incredibly important, focus on execution – this is key to an agile team looking to scale social impact quickly.
  1. Build a Culture of Best Mistakes: Mistakes and failures are inevitable. Every Monday, we have an all-hands meeting to discuss priorities for the coming week and each person’s best mistake from the past week. Provide a forum where team members can openly talk about failures, mistakes and areas for improvement. This is the best way for the team to capture all the valuable learnings that come from it.
  1. Build a Culture of 1%: In addition to celebrating best mistakes, we also celebrate successes at our Monday morning all-hands meeting. We borrowed the idea of 1% from our friends at Skillshare. It’s simple – celebrate individual or team initiatives that push your organization forward 1% or more. Everyone pushing the organization for 1% in aggregate equates to significant improvement and growth, and, importantly, 1% improvements are achievable on a daily basis. Making the time and space to celebrate your teammates successes is inspiring and encourages a culture where anyone can be a leader and make significant impact.

Read more about Catchafire’s culture and values here. Interested in building your nonprofits or social enterprises’ culture? Check out this Catchafire Project:

Culture Coaching:

Work with a Catchafire Pro Bono Professional to help manage and build a culture tailored for your organization’s needs here.


Ryan Letada is a Senior Account Manager at Catchafire. He is a Fulbright Fellow and co-founder of eKindling. He writes on impact investing and capacity building for social good organizations. You can follow him at @rletada


Catchafire’s Living Breathing Product

12 Mar

Read on for the second installment in a week long blog series from Chris Chevaz, one of Catchafire’s newest Service Officers. After each day of intensive training, Chris unravels this thoughts and share’s his insights. After his second day in training, Chris brought our product to life…

Day 2

Today we delved into the meat and potatoes of Catchafire’s platform, value, and culture. It’s one thing to learn about mission and vision and to buy into the purpose of it all. It’s quite another to learn about the secret sauce making it all happen in practice. Though, in this case, the sauce isn’t so secret – It’s available front and center for all to see on

Project Menu

This is the center of it all – the so called secret sauce. With over 40+ projects on offer, it can be an overwhelming resource to communicate and to digest. Like a guest with good table manners, however, Catchafire breaks up each project into bite size pieces, making the incredible value of the Catchafire service easy to process, and easy to articulate.

The menu is a resource explaining how Catchafire pro-bono professionals can direct their passions in a laser like focus to help organizations and illustrates to members the kind of systematic approach that will ensure a project is delivered with timely passion.

To have access to this menu, Catchafire asks organizations to make a membership investment.  This small investment helps to promote accountability among our members and ensures that a strong sincerity of purpose is communicated to our pro bono professionals. This ensures that Catchafire makes a high quality match between organizations and pro-bono professionals. In addition, it rewards organizations that are willing to think strategically about the scarce resources they have to invest. In the end, the Catchafire culture is not only about setting goals but also about accomplishing goals. This is crucial to transforming a mission in the service of a cause into an executable plan of action.

Catchafire Consultants

As part of day two in training, I sat in on a session explaining Catchafire account management. New members benefit greatly from the work put in by the accounts staff whose number one priority is to steward successful matches and provide feedback to member organizations and their pro bono pros.

I left the hour-long session with two major take-aways: The first was to “keep it real” – a saying that grounds what I do to a commitment to maintain the quality and integrity of the Catchafire community.  We only want to work with organizations and pro-bono professionals who are committed to the social good sector.  The second take-away was an emphasis on being proactive. Why wait? The Catchafire culture is one that seeks to shed light on circumstances; to be curious; to probe and always learn; and use the entire range of resources available at any given time.

I know I will continue to learn loads and will have fun in the process. I feel challenged by my new role and look forward to getting to it.


Chris Chavez is a Service Officer at Catchafire. Prior to joining Catchafire, Chris worked with the Fiver Children’s Foundation supervising communications, development, and programming projects to inspire at-risk children to make positive life choices. Chris holds a degree in International Relations from Vesalius College at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and an M.Litt in International Relations from the University of St Andrews.

Mystery solved!

15 Feb

You may have noticed the ticker on our homepage that tallies the total value of services provided by Catchafire Pro Bono Professionals. You may have also noticed a sudden jump in the ticker. Last week it stood at $3,726,000. This week it’s smiling at $5,923,000. What’s up with that?

Well, we’ve recently added 4 new projects to our project menu. (Namely, Infographics, Website User Interface Design, Fundraising Plan Review and Pitch Deck.) Part of the process of updating our project menu is to revaluate all the existing projects, before any projects are added, an expert panel of Catchafire pro bono professionals reviews them.

After our most recent audit, we found many of the projects to be undervalued. So we dusted off our abacus, adjusted our calculations and discovered an additional $2,200,000 in organizational savings!

Thanks to our very busy tech team for updating the ticker to reflect the true value of services provided by Catchafire Pro Bono Professionals.

Improving Your Skills: Crowdfunding

8 Jun

On Monday night Slava Rubin, the CEO of the crowdfunding platform, IndieGoGo, taught a Skillshare class on the topic.  Crowdfunding is the act of getting a large amount of people to donate small amounts of money. An example of a massively successful crowdfunding campaign is President Obama’s Presidential Campaign – he had a record number of donors but they all gave a little, and that little added up to a whole lot. There are a ton of platforms that have launched in the past two years to help you manage this sort of social media campaign, one of which is IndieGoGo.

Slava enlightened us on his definition of success, and that it doesn’t always mean hitting your financial goal. Some of their best case studies didn’t meet their financial goals but connected to audiences and still achieved what they set out to raise money for in the first place. Here are a few of our key takeaways:

1. Have an Honest and Engaging Pitch

  • Campaigns with personalized videos have a 122% higher success rate of meeting fundraising goals
  • Teams with 4 or more dedicated people raise 70% more
2. Be Proactive
  • Start with your inner circle. On average it takes hitting 40% of your fundraising goal before strangers will donate
  • Email marketing is your most effective  tool
  • Using the sharing suite will increase your GoGo factor. (The higher the GoGo factor the more exposure your campaign will get on the IndieGoGo platform and beyond)
  • 30-70 days are proven the best timelines but its best to set the timing of your campaign for as long as you can be consistently active.
3. Find an Audience that Cares
  • Partnership with like-minded email lists
  • Digital Outreach to bloggers and online publications whose motivations are in line with your own

Many of Catchafire’s social good organizations are looking for Social Media professionals to help them with Crowdfunding campaigns. This is a great opportunity for you to put your social media outreach and strategy skills to work while helping these great causes achieve their missions.

Here are some great causes that need your help today:
Crowdfunding for Humanitarian Notes: Humanitarian Notes raises HIV/AIDS awareness in Africa by mobilizing local musicians and resources to create music that educates, entertains and empowers people. With their social media presence growing, they are interested in trying crowdfunding as a way to raise funds.

Crowdfunding for Project Rousseau: Project Rousseau matches college students one-to-one with high school students so that each of our mentees has one mentor for his or her entire high school career. Work directly with the Founder to design a crowdfunding campaign so they can become a Catchafire Member!

Crowdfunding for Common Good: Common Good develops practical solutions to restore reliability to our legal system and minimize the impact of legal fear in American life. They are looking for a skilled social media professional to run a crowdfunding campaign for a new initiative!

Want to learn more before you sign up for a Crowdfunding project? Email and our Community Manager will be in touch with you shortly!

Announcing Nine More Project Types!

9 Mar

Hold on to your hats — our Project Menu is once again expanding with the addition of a whopping NINE new project types! This brings our total up to 49, in fields ranging from Accounting to Strategy.

We hope that by constantly offering new types of projects in different areas, we can continue to expand the impact of pro bono service to nonprofits in need!

The nine new project types making their debut today are:

Do any of these project types appeal to you? If so, and if you haven’t already created a profile, it’s easy and only take s a few minutes! Just add these project types to your profile and we’ll send you potential matches as nonprofits post them. Or browse our list of open projects for one that sparks your interest.
If you’re a nonprofit leader and one of these projects, or any on our project menu would help your organization, you can get started here, and we’ll work with you to get your project in front of our eager bevvy of skilled professionals in no time!

New on the Menu: Six More Project Types!

8 Feb

We’re pleased to announce that our Project Menu is expanding once again with the addition of six new project types! This brings our total up to an even 40, in ten diverse fields from Accounting to Strategy.*

We hope that by constantly offering new types of projects in different areas, we can continue to expand the impact of pro bono service to nonprofits in need!

The six new project types making their debut today are:

    Help an organization get its message across to the public and supporters in an engaging and accessible manner. Craft a compelling short story for use in annual reports, grant proposals, newsletters, web copy and marketing materials.
  • Crowdfunding
  • Launch an online crowdfunding campaign, a great new way for an organization to raise money, build an audience, and keep contributors engaged in the outcome. Use your crowdfunding platform of choice to help achieve a fundraising goal.

  • Promotional Video and Video Editing
  • Help an organization tell its story through video! Shoot and edit a 1-3 minute promotional video to be used both on and offline for events, presentations, websites, e-mail distribution, or for use on social media sites. (Or sign up for a Video Editing project to help an organization with footage already shot.)

  • Accounting System Advice
  • With a highly-functional accounting system, a nonprofit can focus on its mission instead of on its books. Consult with a nonprofit on the structure and efficiency of its current accounting system,  a crucial tool for organizational success. Note that the volunteer will be analyzing the current system, not building a new system from scratch.

  • Grand Proposal Budget
  • Potential funders often require a carefully-crafted project budget alongside a grant proposal or major ask. Help a nonprofit build a well-thought out, specific, and tangible plan for the use of funds over a limited time period.

Do any of these project types fit your skillset and interests? If so, and if you haven’t already signed up and created a profile, there’s no time like now! Just add these project types to your profile and we’ll send you potential matches as nonprofits post them. It’s that easy. Or browse our list of open projects for one that sparks your interest.

If you’re a nonprofit leader and one of these projects, or any on our project menu would help your organization, you can get started here, and we’ll work with you to get your project in front of our enthusiastic bevvy of skilled professionals in no time!

*We’ve also revamped three of our existing project types, Organizational Budget Design and Development, Technology Expert Advice, and Online Marketing Plan. Check ’em out!

Catchafire’s CEO Expert Advice Match in Ad Age

1 Feb

Advertising Age just published a column by our CEO and founder, Rachael Chong, about a recent match we made between Four A’s CEO Nancy Hill and Pencils of Promise Executive Director Adam Braun.

The match was part of our relatively new CEO Expert Advice campaign, in which we aim to get successful leaders in the business world to provide invaluable guidance to fledgling nonprofit leaders. A CEO Expert Advice match is very simple: all a CEO has to do is sign up to dedicate three to five hours of time over a month to speak with their nonprofit partner. Topics can range from board creation to strategic planning to mission statement creation. We think that this type of guidance from a seasoned organizational leader will go a long way towards helping nonprofits grow.

Organization Matches Industry Pros with Good Causes [Ad Age]

You can read more about CEO Expert Advice on our Project Menu.



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