Omahan Christina Kudym doesn't even have to leave her desk when she volunteers.
Instead, she logs on to her computer and goes to Sparked.com, a website that allows people from all over the world to volunteer online.
It's part of a national trend called “micro-volunteering,” and Kudym, 34, said it's perfect for busy people who feel like they have no time to volunteer.
Kudym most recently helped a California nonprofit by giving its leaders tips on how to spread the word for a cancer awareness and fundraising event in Santa Monica, Calif., without leaving Omaha.
The nonprofit asked for advice on “getting the word out in the social media world,” so Kudym logged on to help.
The site asks for your skill sets and the types of nonprofits you are interested in and matches you with tasks out of more than 9,000 that are currently submitted. A variety of skills are needed, including fundraising, information technology, search engine optimization, marketing, human resources, operations, design, blogging, copywriting and research.
In the case of the California nonprofit, Kudym, who is the director of new media and client engagement for Lukas Partners in Omaha, has the social media and online marketing background that the nonprofit needed.
Through the website, she was able to give tips and provide ideas. For example, she suggested raising their awareness on Facebook, hiring a social media consultant if the budget allowed for it and asking the local business chamber to share the event. She also suggested asking businesses involved to spread the word on their social media sites and have their members tell their friends.
In addition, she recommended that the nonprofit also find all of the local cancer organizations in the area and ask them to share information about the fundraiser, and advised reaching out to radio, television and other media.
And that didn't take her much time.
“It's convenient and it's amazing,” Kudym said.
She learned of the term “micro-volunteering” and the site Sparked.com in May 2011 when she was working as the online community manager for a local database marketing company. She was given the task to find an employee engagement activity.
“Because we had people working all around we couldn't all work on a project like building a house together through Habitat for Humanity,” she said.
So she did some research and found Sparked.com. She inquired about it and now is a frequent “micro-volunteer.”
“We were so thrilled when we found it,” Kudym said. “I was amazed that you could contribute to multiple charities and do it from your desk or home.”
She said she realized this would be “one way for employees to come together on the same platform.”
Kudym has helped nonprofits all over the country by giving just a few minutes to an hour of her time, depending on the task. She checks out the site at least once a month to see what tasks are out there.
She's found the site so valuable that she's encouraged friends, family and the company where her husband works to use it.
Kudym said she likes that the site allows you to get feedback on your efforts and see how much of an impact you've had. Volunteers can get “thumbs up” from those helped and other volunteers for their work. The nonprofits also can give out “awards of excellence” to volunteers who have made a difference. Kudym received one last year.
“It's nice to be able to volunteer more than I normally would since I don't have to travel and it's right in front of me,” Kudym said. “It makes you feel good and adds to your credibility as a professional.”
Contact the writer: