When a teenage Sam Fankuchen sought a volunteering gig within the early 2000s, his feel-good quest shortly turned to frustration: It was onerous to seek out a company that matched his expertise and, when he did discover one, it was even more durable to determine who was in cost. The complete area of volunteering felt dominated by delays and disorganization.
“I was frustrated with how much work it was to try and volunteer. I went through school, religious groups, and family, but I could rarely find an opportunity,” says Fankuchen. “And when I did, the reality never matched what the opportunity described.”
Years later, Fankuchen, who turned the primary to main in social entrepreneurship at Stanford, channeled this frustration into constructing Golden, a startup that depends on technology to match volunteers with organizations that want them.
Today, Fankuchen’s agency operates very like a Silicon Valley software program firm—utilizing algorithms and A.I. to sift by way of hundreds of volunteers by ability degree and discover them alternatives at giant charities, small nonprofits, or catastrophe aid efforts. The firm is additionally constructed with a mobile-first mentality, letting individuals simply discover volunteering gigs with an app.
All of this helps these seeking to do good discover the suitable discussion board. But it additionally reduces the time organizations expend on well-meaning however unqualified volunteers—a standard drawback for charitable outfits besieged with assist they don’t want.
Golden has additionally launched one other characteristic that mimics the tech business. Namely, it presents a social media characteristic that lets volunteers earn and share rewards referred to as “karats,” which can be utilized as raffle tickets to enter attracts for plum prizes like Disney journeys, courtside Los Angeles Lakers tickets, and meetups with Grammy winner Billie Eilish.
The rise of Golden—whose shoppers embody a publicly traded social community and a world financial institution—is half of a bigger shift on this planet of volunteering. Instead of counting on the haphazard efforts of well-meaning people, the sphere has turn into more and more technical and professionalized—particularly on the subject of the office.
A latest report underwritten by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation describes dozens of firms, together with Golden, that supply software program to assist organizations make volunteering and philanthropy extra environment friendly.
“It used to be very ad hoc, with an individual taking on all the trouble of matching people’s passions and values with nonprofits. Today, it’s almost like we have Tinder for corporate volunteering,” says Mina Askovic, a Ph.D. pupil who researches volunteering on the University of Sydney Business School.
Askovic added that the options to utilizing one of many volunteering platforms is “a spreadsheet” and that some giant firms, together with Salesforce, have even constructed software program of their very own to facilitate worker volunteering.
For some firms, the software program platforms additionally function a approach to monitor and reward workers for volunteer hours they log—a profit that Askovic says has turn into an expectation for a lot of millennials.
The development of volunteering providers pushed by technology has additionally resulted in additional for-profit firms working in what has historically been a nonprofit sector. These embody Benevity, a Canada-based startup that boasts of processing greater than 23 million hours of volunteer time, in addition to charitable donations, for a whole bunch of hundreds of firms. Benevity is an authorized B-Corporation—a designation additionally loved by the likes of Etsy and Patagonia—which obliges it to stick to excessive moral and environmental requirements. But Benevity has additionally raised $69 million in investments, together with from non-public fairness giants General Atlantic and JMI Equity.
This would possibly elevate the query of whether or not the revenue motive that comes with such investments would possibly battle with the spirit of volunteering, however Fankuchen doesn’t see a contradiction. While Golden is devoted to rising revenues and pursuing a revenue—Fankuchen declined to supply any particulars about his firm’s financials—he believes the corporate is in the end a pressure for good.
“We believe strongly in the for-profit model. It delivers the technology that we know will deliver better outcomes quickly, but this also requires capital for things like R&D and helping organizations integrate their software with third parties,” he says.
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