Who you gonna call? 3 online tools to connect you with experts

On Idealists in Action, we love to tackle your biggest obstacles to doing good. One we hear a lot is, “I don’t have the skills or knowledge to start something.” This week, we’re taking that behemoth down.

Another way you can defeat the obstacles in your path is by joining the Idealist Network—a new online and on-the-ground platform we’re designing to help people everywhere connect and take action on any issue that concerns them, locally or globally. Sign up to attend our online launch on March 11 and see what it’s all about.

Sometimes you need to bring in the professionals. Image via IMDB.

Sometimes you need to bring in the professionals.
(image via IMDB)

Here at Idealist, we’ve written many times about harnessing the power of community to get things done. We can do more together, and tapping into the skills and knowledge of other people is a big part of why.

While finding collaborators with mad skills can be relatively easy if you’re already integrated into a niche community or have buckets of money, it’s harder when geography, time constraints, or lack of funding eat into your ability to find that special someone you just know is out there.

Fortunately, there are a lot of resources online that can connect you with talented people whether you’re looking for pro bono consultants, mentors, board members, volunteers, or creative partners.

We have to say, Idealist is a good place to start. By searching the profiles of other Idealists like you, you can find and connect with like-minded do-gooders in your area (and around the world).

Here are a few other options we think are especially handy-dandy:


1. Helpouts by Google

This Google-powered resource connects you with “real help from real people in real time.”

The gist: Search for real-life people who can tutor you in a variety of practical (and very specific) subjects like building a website, cooking Indian food, or reading sheet music. You find a teacher you want to work with, agree to a time, and “meet” over video chat.

The pros: You can read reviews of the teachers before you sign up with them, and many of them are really legit and well-loved. The site is easy to use and great if you’re looking for one-on-one help from the privacy of your own home.

The cons: You need a Google account to use this site. Also, the teachers set prices for their sessions. Most are pretty reasonable (about $1/minute) which is often about the same as what you’d pay for a private lesson IRL, but depending on what you want to learn and how many instructional hours you need, it could get expensive.


2. Skills for Change

This microvolunteering site connects nonprofits with professionals who want to donate their services.

The gist: Nonprofits register and create “challenges” (for example: create the best logo to help promote an upcoming fundraiser). Users can search by type of challenge and type of organization to find projects they’d like to help with.

The pros: If you post a challenge on the site, multiple users can “accept” it and post feedback. That means there are a lot of ideas flowing and a nice collaborative feel to everything. If you’re a volunteer on the site, there’s also a lot of choice involved. With over 15,000 challenges posted, there really is something for everyone.

The cons: The site is a little clunky to navigate and can be overwhelming at times. Nonprofits also have to pay a small fee to post challenges and there’s no guarantee that someone will “accept” your challenge (or that you’ll like what they post).


3. Catchafire

This matchmaking site’s mission is to “provide talented individuals with meaningful pro bono experiences in order to build capacity for social good organizations.”

The gist: Professionals search for projects they want to work on. When they find something they like, they apply for the position. Catchafire sets up an interview, and if it’s a good fit for both sides, they get to work. Projects are in areas like branding and marketing, communications and public relations, design, strategy, website, HR, technology, and finance.

The pros: This site is easy to use for both professionals and nonprofits. The application and interview process also ensure that there’s good chemistry in the working relationship. Catchafire is a great tool for longer-term projects—for example, a 60-hour fundraising project or a 20-hour infographic design project.

The cons: There is a small fee for organizations to post their projects on the site, but if the quality of work you’re getting in exchange is as good as the examples I saw, it’s totally worth it.

What sites are missing from our list?

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Comments (1)

  1. Michael writes:
    March 7, 2014 at 3:27 am

    This matchmaking site’s mission is to “provide talented individuals with meaningful pro bono experiences in order to build capacity for social good organizations.”

    i like this!


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