linkedin volunteer

Volunteering is work, too: LinkedIn now connects you to nonprofits

Volunteering is super easy. All nonprofits are looking for help all the time: Just walk into your local soup kitchen ready to get to work. Oh, wait, none of that is true. Finding the right organization and best time to lend a hand isn’t simple at all, which is why one of the biggest players in the social networking space is stepping in to help.

LinkedIn has always been Serious Business: A place where you furiously job-hunt or, if you’re a luckier sort, sit back and wait for headhunters to come a-callin’. But the professional social network found that more than 600,000 of its members in the last six months indicated that they wanted to volunteer or serve on a nonprofit board. So LinkedIn on Wednesday launched its Volunteer Marketplace to connect nonprofits in need of skilled helpers with professionals who want to pad their resumes with good deeds.

The new marketplace isn’t just full-time employees who want to spend weekends picking up trash or building Habitats for Humanity. LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman said in a Wednesday blog post that students, retirees, and stay-at-home moms and dads looking to keep their skills intact while they sit out the job market will benefit from the Volunteer Marketplace.

“When I talk with LinkedIn members, many tell me they aren’t actively looking for traditional job opportunities,” Hoffman said. “Instead, they want to hone or leverage their skills while also making a positive impact on the world.”

People who aren’t looking for work are also unlikely to join a professional network, but they might now that LinkedIn is branching out. Of course, you have to be a LinkedIn member to view the new unpaid listings.

The new site has separate sections for volunteer opportunities and nonprofits who are looking for board members, and also lets charities seek out LinkedIn members with experience they need—you can list the opportunities and causes you’re interested in on your profile for easy searching.

The downside to this feel-good news: For companies that had carved out space in the social networking landscape for volunteers and nonprofits , LinkedIn’s move might crowd them right out of business.

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