Magazine article Stanford Social Innovation Review

Bite-Sized Goodness

Magazine article Stanford Social Innovation Review

Bite-Sized Goodness

Article excerpt


In the time it takes to update your Facebook page, you could be making the world a slightly better place. That's the idea behind The Extraordinaries, a Web-based platform for microvolunteering that's been generating plenty of buzz since its launch last year.

The goal is to harness thousands of currently untapped hours by making volunteering fast, convenient, and bite-sized. While waiting for a bus or cooling your heels at the dentist's office, you could be using your smart phone to tag photos for the Smithsonian, send a study tip to an at-risk student, or map your local parks. "We want volunteering to be as fun and ubiquitous as playing a game," explains Sundeep Ahuja, cofounder and president of the San Franciscobased business.

The Extraordinaries (www. was founded by a trio with deep experience in social media Chief technology officer Ben Rigby pioneered the use of mobile phones for youth voter registration when he founded Mobile Voter. CEO Jacob Colker was one of the first to harness Facebook to organize political campaigns. Ahuja was a product manager at MySpace before helping to launch Kiva, the microphilanthropy site.

Traditional community service "has been about carving out a Saturday afternoon or an evening to go do something in person," Ahuja says. That can be tough to squeeze into a busy schedule. What's more, few nonprofits have the capacity to match volunteers' talents with specific tasks. "Even if you have time to give, nonprofits don't necessarily play to your strengths," Ahuja says. It adds up to missed opportunities for potential volunteers and the organizations that could benefit by their efforts.

With its superhero brand (including a Superman-inspired logo), The Extraordinaries is eager to make volunteering not only convenient, but also cool for the millennial generation. …

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