LinkedIn Is Targeting a Completely Different Kind of User

Volunteers wanted

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Jin Lee / Bloomberg via Getty Images

LinkedIn, long the dominant social network for exploring job opportunities, wants to become a go-to source for volunteer work as well. Today the company launched a new Volunteer Marketplace to connect nonprofits with professionals seeking to serve as board members or do pro bono work.

The new portal, which is launching with 500 volunteer and board opportunities, aims to make it easier for LinkedIn members to find ways to apply their skills outside the workplace. The company says more than 3 million members now list volunteer experience on their profiles and 600,000 have indicated that they are seeking opportunities to do volunteer work or serve on a board.

“Volunteering is a great way to acquire new skills, to network, to use it as a stepping stone either into a new career or back into the workplace,” says Meg Garlinghouse, head of Linkedin for Good. “We think this a great opportunity to serve people in an inspiring way that maps to what we know about their skills and experience.”

The company is working with several volunteer-focused web services such as Taproot, VolunteerMatch and Catchafire to find relevant skills-based volunteer opportunities (think consulting or grantwriting, not working in soup kitchens). And the company is creating incentives for other nonprofits to get involved too. Organizations are now able to post volunteer and board openings through LinkedIn’s jobs board system at a cost of about $20 to $40, 90 percent less than a typical job posting on LinkedIn. Like regular job postings, these volunteer listings may be sent to users with qualifying skillsets via the LinkedIn website or emails, Garlinghouse says.

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The new volunteer site is the latest step in the social network’s attempt to extend beyond serving just job-seekers. Last fall the company lowered its minimum registration age from 18 to 14 and introduced college-specific profile pages to help universities recruit high school students.