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Learn tips and hints to use a variety of electronic and technical equipment to enhance work with volunteers.

~November 2009~

The Extraordinaries


The Extraordinaries

Several months back Volunteer Today visit with one of the founders of The Extraordinaries. It was a tip off to an “extraordinary way in which people can volunteer. Sitting in traffic, waiting for the commuter train, at the kid's game, at a doctor office, or anywhere you are waiting? Take out your mobile phone (you can use your computer, as well) and you can volunteer. That's right, volunteering in nanoseconds.

The Extraordinaries is a micro-volunteering platform, that allows organizations to engage their supporters via micro-actions, done on-demand and on the spot using a mobile phone or web browser. It is volunteering in minutes and seconds and the uses are only limited by your imagination.

Here are some examples of what you can post for volunteer positions:

Create a profile and upload a document that you want translated. The system parses it up into micro work blocks that are uploaded to a mission in your profile, and your supporters begin translating a few sentences at a time. As those sentences are translated, other supporters rate the quality, and through the power of the crowd you get real translations done for a fraction of the cost.

Image Tagging
Problem: From museums to human rights advocacy groups, environmental policy organizations to universities, we all have photographs. But how do you find the right photo when you need it? It could take hours to dig through directory after directory of images. To have your staff sort through and tag (curate) all those photos can take weeks - and it's not really the best use of their time.
With Extradordinaries you can create a profile on the site, and send them a link to a Flicker photo library. The system pulls from Flickr's API and allows your supporters to start adding tags to your Flickr photos, making it ridiculously easy for you to search your Flickr library when you need to find the right photo.

Investigation or Evidence Collection
Problem: You've got a big issue to investigate. You're trying to find illegal dumping sites, map animal abuse cases, identify where the city has been wasting water resources. Problem is, there is no way that your small staff can go out and collect all of that evidence. How it works: Create a profile and put out a request for evidence. The system instantly puts a camera, GPS, mobile Internet, video player, and keyboard in the hands of your supporters - through phones they already have in their pocket! With one click, volunteers can work on the task, and start collecting real data.

Problem: You need to build a mapped database of play spaces, defibrillators, dog rescues, waste sites, and more. But there is no easy way to do this. How it works: Create a profile and build your GPS mapping or tracking task. The system instantly puts a camera, GPS, mobile Internet, video player, and keyboard in the hands of your supporters. With one click, volunteers can work on the task, and start collecting real data.

Feedback and Critique
Problem: You've got a new website, brochure, video, or audio recording. You want to get feedback on it, but surveys or email blasts just aren't exciting enough. You might even want audio or video feedback to use as sound bites in your podcasts or as other promotional materials. How it works: Create a profile and upload a link, or your material(s). With one click, you can blast that task to your community, and start getting real feedback.

The Extraordinaries are in the pilot phase and are looking for organizations to help test their application. This is moving into a new and exciting form of volunteering. Check it out. http://www.beextra.org/

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