By: Jessica Kauffman
July 29th 2015
In order to build a strong, healthy, and safe community, volunteers and nonprofits need to be engaged and mobilized to work together. Currently, volunteers and nonprofits are disconnected. Volunteers want to support their local community, but don’t know where they are needed or how to help. Non-profits need help achieving their social missions but are unable to find volunteers. According to a recent study by the United Way, nonprofits mismanagement of volunteers results in $38 billion in lost labor. 44% of volunteers initiate volunteer involvement with organizations by approaching them on their own.
The Community Activism Leadership Organization (CALO) is tackling this market failure. CALO is a for-profit organization that uses an online platform to connect schools, students, and nonprofits in order to unite the community by inspiring service.
Avery Hill, Founder, calls thecalo.com, “a social good Facebook.” The online service allows students to create personal volunteer profiles, allows nonprofits to post projects and accept volunteer requests, and allows schools to track students service hours. CALO is a virtual community that saves nonprofits, schools, and students, time and money when trying to improve their communities.
The idea for CALO started with Avery’s own love for service. Avery grew up in Westminster, Maryland where he completed over 3,000 hours of community service in high school. He hoped to continue volunteering when he arrived four years ago at Bryant University, but there were no school or local groups that Avery could find upon arrival. Avery took the initiative to start his own service program as a way to connect Bryant University students with local nonprofits.
The original CALO platform was a newsletter requesting volunteers sent by email to a growing network of students. In a year, the newsletter included 300 volunteers, 50 nonprofits, and over 100 projects. Avery thought CALO could be much more than just a school club- possibly a program other students and schools could use across the country, even the world.
CALO was awarded the Goss Grant to create the website which recently launched. The website helps students and schools effectively track hours for service. Guidance counselors spend hours going through paper forms or google docs tracking students hours and students often find service to be tedious due to the mounting paperwork. Avery explains, “Right a way a lot of students don’t see volunteering as fun because of the paperwork, but once you get them to realize that they can enjoy volunteering and that it is super easy and fun, then you have them hooked.”
The next target was nonprofits as Avery explains, “Nonprofits spend a majority of their marketing budget on finding volunteers, so if we could eliminate that problem and be their main source for solving their problems then eventually we could get paid for that.” A sustainable revenue stream is essential for the growth and development of CALO. For now, free beta versions of their product are in four schools in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Providence Rhode Island, Portsmouth New Hampshire, and Westminster Maryland. After this December, CALO plans to charge schools per student per month, charge nonprofits per project post, and keep the program free for students.
Avery wants to expand CALO to provide a platform for company philanthropic tracking, matching political representatives to local causes, and be a distributor for local philanthropic funding. Avery says, “We hope to be a national player in the social good and NGO market, as well as the international community for social good. We hope that our platform can accelerate change in communities.”
CALO was introduced to Social Enterprise Greenhouse by fellow friend and social entrepreneur Lindsey Lerner of Do Your Dance. Social Enterprise Greenhouse provided Avery with a scholarship to use the Hub coworking space. So far, Avery says, “The space itself has been awesome. The motivation, passion, and drive of other entrepreneurs in the room keeps you going and events happen at the Hub all the time. So it’s awesome that I can come here, attend events, work with mentors, and work with Social Enterprise Greenhouse advisors.”
Avery explains social entrepreneurship as, “the most difficult, but the most rewarding, form of entrepreneurship.” He explains, “You have to be mission driven and you have to love the cause. I am always looking for a creative way to do things and social entrepreneurship gives you the ability to think outside of the box.”
CALO’s online platform is their first creative solution to foster volunteerism and community development. Stay tuned, CALO is currently working on a suite of services that can grow their social impact. For exciting things from this rapidly growing social venture check out their website.
Student Venture Intern
Jessica Kaufman is the Social Enterprise Greenhouse Student Venture Intern for Summer 2015. She is working under the Social Enterprise Greenhouse University Initiative, which is funded through the Blackstone Charitable Foundation Innovation Grant to retain students and recent graduates in Rhode Island through enabling them to work on and in social enterprises. Her work centers around documenting the success stories of student and recent graduate social ventures. Learn more about Jessica here.