The Softer Side of Silicon Valley

Nonprofit VolunteerMatch puts corporate employees to work.

Warning: visiting VolunteerMatch.org may cause you to commit random acts of kindness. Founded in 1998, San Francisco-based VolunteerMatch is a nonprofit organization that matches the willing with local volunteer opportunities that suit their lifestyles and schedules. The organization works with companies such as Target Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Dell Inc., to set up customized portals for employees to use.

Medtronic Inc., a Minneapolis-based medical technology company, has been using VolunteerMatch since May 2004. "VolunteerMatch is a great tool for me to mobilize our employees, who are scattered all over the world," says Christy Eichers, manager of employee involvement for Medtronic. Since the company started using the service, VolunteerMatch has made 632 volunteer referrals to Medtronic employees.

In the past seven years, VolunteerMatch has logged 2 million referrals and built a network of 32,000 charitable organizations and 28 corporate clients. President Deborah Dinkelacker attributes the success to an entrepreneurial attitude, charging fees—based on number of employees and the level of customization and services—to corporate clients to maintain the Web sites. "We were born in the Silicon Valley tech boom," she says, "and the founders knew early on the importance of generating revenue."

This article was originally published on 03-05-2005
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