When it comes to volunteering, there’s no shortage of global organizations looking for extra hands, but it’s not always easy finding a place to lend your efforts.
Enter MovingWorlds, a Seattle startup that’s building a platform where people can go, list their expertise, and find an organization that’s looking for exactly what they have to offer.
Co-founder and University of Washington alum Mark Horoszowski says his company could change the game in global volunteer work. MovingWorlds connects professionals in marketing, business, and tech fields who are looking for skill-specific ways to volunteer with the small organizations who need their help.
Here’s how MovingWorlds works: Professionals post where they’d like to go and what they have to offer, and organizations post their plans and the skill sets they need Or, as Horozowski explains it, it’s where “the Peace Corps meets Match.com.”
Horoszowski said the idea for MovingWorlds really came out of a market need he originally thought was already filled.
In 2011, Horoszowski was traveling the world. He’d left Seattle with a plan to donate his marketing and business skills in the global volunteer network.
He had a specific skill set, and figured there would be plenty of ways to use it in other communities.
But as he searched, he found something he didn’t expect — regardless of the country, it was actually difficult to find places to volunteer with the skills he had to give.
“If you did a Google search, you’d just find some organization trying to charge you $2,500 a week to build a house or a well,” Horoszowski said. “That’s just not sustainable work.”
Horoszowski wanted a program that felt meaningful in the longterm, a place where he could put to use the skills he’d spent years developing. So he began looking into communities on his own, searching for people who might be looking for help in growing and sharpening their small businesses.
As he expected, there was no real shortage of people looking for his expert help.
Horoszowski eventually landed in Buenes Aires, Argentina, where he continued to advise business owners. While working there, he met MovingWorlds co-founder Derk Norde.
Norde had spent the last eight years in Latin America supporting local entrepreneurs. When Horizowski told him how much trouble he had finding opportunities to volunteer his own skills, Norde was a little shocked.
“He said it was fascinating because entrepreneurs would come to him and ask for [business] support but they had no idea where to find these professionals,” Horoszowski said.
On the other hand, Horoszowski had been blogging about his experiences since he began finding local businesses to advise. And with each new post, he received emails from professionals in the United States — lawyers, marketing professionals, and entrepreneurs — asking how they could help.
From opposite ends, both founders realized the same thing: developing businesses needed help, and professionals wanted to give it. Problem was, there wasn’t yet a way of connecting the two.
It was in that market gap where they realized a new startup had a chance, and MovingWorlds was born.
After a year of development, the company now has several volunteers on projects and a few who have already returned. Horoszowski said the site allows both the organization in need and the professional to tailor their requests.
“There are organizations that are coming to us and saying they need someone like this now,” Horoszowski said. “From a social impact standpoint, that’s really important.”
They currently offer three different price-point packages for participating professionals. Starting at $99, each package offers various degrees of Moving Worlds support to the volunteer.
Apart from business management advisors, many organizations have come to MovingWorlds with requests for specialized talent in software engineering and tech support.
Horoszowski thought the factor that separated the program from other volunteer opportunities was simple. He said the need for various highly skilled volunteers is all across the board, and it’s something professionals are aching to do as well.
“It’s a place where professionals can find the best place to donate their expertise around the world,” he said, “We’re really just trying to connect the right human capital to helping to ensure progress.”
Previously on GeekWire: Startup Spotlight: Cart Blanche wants to be the TripAdvisor for the shopping mall
Alisa Reznick is a University of Washington student working as an editorial intern at GeekWire this quarter. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AlisaReznick.