"You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world."
― Woodrow Wilson
A few years back I was introduced to Catchafire, and it has become a favorite organization. Rachael Chong is Founder & CEO of Catchafire, the nation's leading online pro bono network that connects talent and purpose. Rachael is a social entrepreneur, visionary leader, and evangelist of all the ways project-based volunteering benefits the world, and the people who do it. Prior to Catchafire, Rachael helped start up BRAC USA by strategically utilizing pro bono talent. From this success, Rachael founded Catchafire in 2009 with a vision to create a more efficient and effective social good sector, and a world where it is commonplace to serve for the greater good.
In 2012, Rachael received the prestigious NYC Venture Fellowship, the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award, and was named one of Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People in Business. She also writes a new series about generosity.
Rachael shared her thoughts on pro bono work, and why everyone has the power to help create positive change.
Rachael Chong, Founder of Catchafire. Photo courtesy of Catchafire
You've explained Catchafire as a marketplace for talented people to share skills and passion for good. Can you talk about the goals behind Catchafire?
There are two main priorities. First, to create a more efficient and effective social good sector by leveraging best practices from business and sharing knowledge. Second, to create a movement of socially-conscious leaders who are empowered to be change agents, catalysts for meaningful, impactful change.
What inspired your new Generosity series for Fast Company?
The genesis for the series, which so far has highlighted the 10 Most Generous Social Media Mavens and The 11 Most Generous Designers, was to show that giving is accessible, a day-to-day way of life that anyone can incorporate. By highlighting how successful people are already turning good intentions into actions, it's easy to relate to their stories. It's a humanized way of looking at giving and generosity that is practical and doable.
How does Catchafire work?
It's skills-based volunteer matching. When someone goes onto Catchafire.org, it's as easy as connecting your LinkedIn profile (or answering a few quick questions.) Then we work the magic behind the scenes to present opportunities you may be interested in to you through email, for you to peruse at your leisure. It's along the same lines of Match.com or eHarmony, but for voluntering opportunities you'll enjoy, based on your experience and skills.
Catchafire is all upside. It helps with professional development, and can leverage secondary skills you have but may not use in your daily job (think not only of business skills you use on the job, but also hobbies like photography, writing, film making, marketing and PR, etc.) It can be very rewarding to use a skill around a passion to do good in the world.
The amount of time and level of involvement is up to you and there are options that can fit into almost any schedule. And pro-bono work can give you experience in leadership, project management, sales, creative thinking, and other important management skills.
Everyone already has skills they can use to create positive change in the world, and no one should feel like they're not "experienced enough" to try pro-bono work. In fact, it's a perfect opportunity to create deeper experience, and give back in the process!
Learn more about Catchafire and how you can get involved in pro bono work. Video courtesy of Catchafire