Kelley Holland’s New York Times piece on volunteers and professionals points out that

Volunteer work can help unemployed professionals keep their spirits up, make new contacts or even to try a new field.

“Three-quarters of people find jobs through being out there, engaged and meeting people,” said John A. Challenger.

However, if volunteering remains a high-commitment activity, this trend will continue: “More than a third of the 61.2 million who volunteered in 2006 didn’t donate any time the next year.” [source: Corporation for National and Community Service]

Most professionals want to volunteer, at every stage of our careers. What we need are more high-impact, low-commitment opportunities to serve.

As the New York Times article points out, the benefits of volunteering to professionals are substantial, and include:

  1. Learning new skills and improving existing skills.
  2. Making new contacts and deepening existing contacts.
  3. Keeping our minds sharp by working in a different environment than we’re used to.

The benefits of volunteering to people entering (or re-entering) our careers are also substantial, and include:

  1. Learning new skills and making new contacts.
  2. Keeping our spirits up while we look for jobs.
  3. Offering new items to include on our resumes, that embody our values and showcase our commitments and follow-through, and that we have a service-oriented attitude.

In both cases, people can contribute something meaningful to a cause we believe in, and also benefit our careers while doing so. Volunteers and careers belong together, like chocolate and peanut butter.

Everybody can serve.

January 9, 2009

Like MLK, the folks at ServiceNation and USA Service have genuinely inspired us.

Find us on Facebook!


Everybody can serve!

Joyce and I spent a lot of time talking this week about where the time for volunteering comes from in the lives of Americans. Joyce said to me,

Volunteering actually competes with going to the movies or playing a videogame or futzing around on Facebook for a couple of hours, but most volunteer applications are built on the assumption that volunteering competes with a full-time job.

I agree that for most Americans, volunteer time comes out of leisure time. When I get up on Saturday morning, I sometimes think to myself, “Do I want to see a movie?” If so, I check the listings, and find a movie I think I would enjoy.

Sometimes I go alone. Sometimes I go with my wife. Sometimes I go with friends. Sometimes I go with professional colleagues. Sometimes it’s a matinee, and sometimes it’s at night. Sometimes I don’t like the movie, but usually I enjoy it. Recently I’ve enjoyed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire. And once I leave the theater, I am happy and go back to my busy working life.

I agree with Joyce that volunteering should be the same way. Find something that interests you. Go do it alone, or with a loved one, or with friends, or with professional colleagues. Spend a few hours. And once you leave, be content and go back to your busy life.

Everybody has leisure time. So everybody can serve.

If we all do this — even just a few hours a year — our country will be a better place. The world will be a better place.

Pledge to serve, and you too can be great.

And then make 2009 a year in which you volunteer. Because when you volunteer, you serve. And when you serve, you can be great.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said,

Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.

In 2009, many people will serve. Colin Powell endorses a new service initiative that will act as a Craigslist for service opportunities. I myself have pledged to serve at least 50 hours this year. And we at Renkoo hope you pledge to serve, too.

You got to serve somebody.

January 7, 2009

Om thinks Renkoo is rebooting, and we’ll be the first ones to admit that 36 million Booze Mail users on Facebook platform isn’t worth a whole lot, even as Facebook passes 150 million users. As Andy Grove put it, “You can’t build an empire out of this kind of concoction.”

But Om, we’re not bored at Renkoo. And we’re still building Facebook and MySpace applications. So what has changed?

We believe an important mission has found us. And we believe we’re just getting started.

We believe the first four years of Renkoo were our boot camp, where we learned all of the skills we can now employ to help people serve.

We believe that Monday, January 19 — MLK Day — is an opportunity for everyone to find an opportunity to serve.

We believe that Craig Newmark was onto something big when he explored the metaphor of a Craigslist for service.

We believe that a lot of other people also believe that 2009 is the year of service. This is going to be big — and millions of Americans are going to participate. And corporations too.

We believe, like Arianna Huffington, that Obama isn’t the only one being inaugurated on January 20th. We are all stakeholders.

We especially feel this way after noticing that today the Presidential Inauguration Committee launched USA Service dot org. This is one step closer to Obama’s service agenda becoming real. Next up: passing the bipartisan Serve America Act into law.

So Om, stop being so cynical, and Sign Service Nation’s Declaration of Service. America has a lot of work to do in 2009, and we all have an opportunity to serve. Om, we invite you to be part of the solution.

And Om, there’s more to life than a business model.

Goodness begins in small steps.

John F. Kennedy famously said on January 20, 1961,

And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

The world has changed a lot in the last 48 years, but his words are more relevant today.

We can all do something to make our country — and our world — a better place.

It’s 2009. The time for service is now. The place for service is here.

It is with that in mind that Renkoo is drafting its new mission. A mission of helping people help other people.

We are inspired by the words of Craig Newmark,

I feel that we’re entering a new time of civic engagement, where people can help others out in small or big ways. Let’s get going.

We are currently working on a brand new application that employs everything we’ve learned for the last four years — and enables a suite of voluntary actions that everyone can do in the United States and around the world.

Together we can make the world a better place, and our application has wonderful ramifications both for volunteers and for careers.

We are very excited about the launch of this new application very soon.

For now, we work around the clock to build it. There’s nothing more energizing than a worthy mission.

Renkoo was founded on March 1, 2005, with the belief that we could build a great application that employs the Internet to bring people together.

Version 1 of Renkoo lasted about two years. We built a website — — that helped people decide when and where together with real-life friends. We learned a lot about building social applications and helped pioneer Dojo Toolkit in the process.

Version 2 of Renkoo also lasted about two years. We decided it was better to take your applications where people are — the social networks — and as a result we learned how to build an entirely different type of social application. We built a half dozen popular applications on Facebook and MySpace that got used by more than 36 million people over a half billion times. These applications were not fulfilling to us because although they were entertaining, they did not help people help other people.

Version 3 of Renkoo is about to begin. We will apply everything we’ve learned — from cutting-edge JavaScript and CSS technology, to our understanding of how applications spread on social networks — to a new domain that we find very fulfilling.

From this point forward, we will serve the mission of helping people help other people.

Renkoo launched Haikoo Zoo last month, a Facebook app for those into furry friends and maybe not so much into booze. Haikoo Zoo lets Facebook users adopt one of six (so far) cute virtual pets and pet, cuddle, feed, or play with them. Petting or playing with other users’ pets earns you virtual cash with which to buy many kinds of delicious-looking food (including blintzes, pho, and fluffer nutters) or items to spruce up your pet’s habitat (such as fireworks, barbecue grills, and baobab trees). Haikoo Zoo also makes it easy for your pet to make friends with other people’s pets. So far, over 100,000 users have installed Haikoo Zoo, of which 25,000 are daily active users.

Periodic Table of Booze

September 28, 2007

A Periodic Table of Booze? Yes.

With 140 drinks (and counting) on Booze-Mail, sometimes choosing the right drink can be a daunting task. We’ve decided to help you learn the drinks by plotting them on a colorful chart grouped by, well, we’ll let you figure that out. Learning your boozes has never been easier or more fun. Don’t worry, we won’t quiz you.

Periodic Table of Booze

Check it and other exciting booze goodies on our Booze-Mail Zazzle store now!