Factors in comparing volunteering websites

In case you're wondering why it's taking so long for me to get this volunteering research sorted, here's a quick look at the comparison factors I'm looking at. I've essentially imagined a hypothetical generic social networking site for volunteers and then used the feature set it might contain to create a comparison grid. At the end of it we should be able to see how close existing services come to what we're thinking of. If I can find even one organisation or site that is a high match I'll accept that maybe there isn't really any gap to fill.

Apart from the generic user experience, complexity and content review I'm looking at 4 specific areas for comparison. These are social networking, cyber-volunteering (ability to do useful things online), impact and technology.

Social Networking:

  • Social graph recreation
  • Invite friends using email contacts or export from social networks
  • Facebook application / synchronisation
  • Synchronisation with Other Social Networks
  • Synchronisation with twitter, tumblr etc
  • Aggregate content from other external profiles - plaxo pulse
  • Personal profiles
  • Skills profiles
  • Auto-Create profile from social networks
  • Organisation profiles / pages
  • Post messages on profile
  • Status updates
  • Network feeds
  • Network friend updates feed / stream
  • Opportunity updates feed / stream
  • Customise/filter volunteering opportunities
  • Track & Manage volunteering opportunities
  • Interpersonal communication - email within site, IM within site, message boards
  • Post photos, notes, video, presentations, papers, research
  • User blogs
  • Share with friends
  • Wiki based information sharing


  • Cyber Volunteering capability
  • Question & Answer capability
  • Collaboration capability
  • Edit documents/content directly through site
  • User credit / reward system
  • Create and manage multi-user project pages
  • Raise funds for causes


  • Memorability
  • User-centric design
  • Organisational Blog
  • Tone of copy


  • Faceted and saved search
  • Notifications by email and RSS
  • Rich Media - Streaming, Videocast, Audiocast
  • Customise/filter volunteering opportunities
  • Open APIs
  • Developer applications
  • Compatibility with open standards
  • Mobile compatibility

Can you think of anything else a social networking site for volunteers should offer users? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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