Using your spare minutes to make change. An Extraordinary young man – Jacob Colker

1 06 2010

In our overloaded lives few of us have time to help charities in their work or contribute to any major project that could help the world. A young man is hoping to change all of that. By using technology, via a smartphone, he is adapting volunteering to the 21st century. Jacob Colker, co-founder of the Extraordinaires, is convinced that the world can be transformed by changing the way people engage in community service. The Extraordinaires have pioneered a method of harnessing human time and energy on a mass scale. By gathering micro-volunteers it is hoped that his company can help thousands of non-profit organisations, scientific projects or community activities by turning spare time into social value.

As the company website suggests, “Most of us don’t have a Saturday to give to something we’re passionate about, but we do have spare moments…lots of them. Despite busy schedules, we often find ourselves with idle time: waiting for the metro, in line for a haircut, at the doctor’s office or when a friend is late to dinner.” Clearly five minutes work is not going to change the world but by motivating thousands of people to use their time when they are riding the bus, standing in queues etc a few minutes concentrated work on his site, well that could make a big difference.

The company has an internet platform that allows anyone with a smartphone to carry out micro tasks such as:

• Help identify businesses, cities, and schools that are “going green.”

• Inspire children to break out of extreme poverty by writing a message of encouragement.

• Help Greenpeace catalogue pictures from a recent Arctic Climate Impacts voyage.

• Help Nasa identify galaxies by examining their shapes

• Translating CV’s for newly arrived immigrants looking for work

Thanks to this ingenious new site, people can pool together what would be lost waste minutes to impact the lives of their favourite charity, community or project.

It should be pointed out that the Extraordinaries is a for-profit social enterprise. They are currently applying to become a B-corp, a new type of corporation that uses the power of business to solve social problems.

Have a minute? Use your smartphone to make a difference!

Founded in July of 2009, The Extraordinaries to-date have attracted micro-volunteers to complete over 300,000 tasks for more than 200 organizations, including The Smithsonian, KaBoom!, First Aid Corps, Big Cat Rescue, Citizens Market, Christel House, and the 1Sky Campaign. Their work has been featured by CNN, Time, NPR, ABC, NBC, and more, and they’re supported by leading social benefit organizations including Echoing Green, Knight Foundation, Ashoka, Rolex Foundation, NetSquared, and the United Nations.

Do you know a nonprofit that could benefit from a micro-volunteering program? Help them discover the power of skills-based micro-volunteering at