The extraordinaries

On-demand micro-volunteering


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About the project Edit

The Extraordinaries is a smartphone application that delivers micro-volunteer opportunities to mobile phones that can be done on-demand and on-the-spot. The Extraordinaries proposes to deliver skills-based volunteer tasks to people whenever and wherever they are available by mobile phone. Tasks can range from to view and label photos (to help digitize museum archives) to snapping a picture of a local park (to help build a map of places where kids can play). Over 80% of the adult U.S. population carries a mobile phone in his or her pocket and the higher-end of these diminuative devices, so called “smartphones,” are as capable as any laptop computer. The Extraordinaries dramatically reduce the barriers to giving back by enabling people to volunteer on-the-spot and on-demand.

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

The Extraordinaries have created a mobile designed to facilitate crowdsourcing (a large task, broken into little pieces, and worked on by many people). Typically, these tasks are small, requiring only a few minutes to complete. They are bringing for the first time the concept of crowdsourcing to volunteering and community engagement, and they have created a mechanism for organizations to take advantage of previously inaccessible volunteer labor.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

Smart phone apps for quick charitable acts are a great way to bring people together around a common purpose and also to improve aspects of life in that community.[2] As of today, there are more than 29,000 Extraordinary Users, 250 missions To Do and 240,000 micro-tasks have been completed.[1] The Extraordinaries Web site has copped a number of awards, including a ,000 two-year fellowship from Echoing Green, a nonprofit group that gives grants to social entrepreneurial organizations; a United Nations World Summit Youth Award; and a 9,000 one-year John S. and James L. Knight Foundation community grant.

Despite its innovativeness, NPR notes that like many of the new do-gooder sites, The Extraordinaries' vision of microvolunteerism is only in the experimental stage. And there are plenty of potential pitfalls. Allison Fine, who blogs about social media, writes this about microvolunteering: "It is quite possible that we will become frantically busy doing a lot of change stuff that does make the doers feel great — which is important — but doesn't add up to the systemic social change needed in communities. Does busy mean the same thing as impact?"

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

Not a nonprofit, The Extraordinaries is in the process of becoming a B Corp., a social entrepreneurial enterprise. The company plans to make money by charging organizations a per-task fee.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

What is the business model of this project? Edit

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