March 18, 2010

Tap into the collective power of your community

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Molena, Ga. - KaBOOM!

The Extraordinaries lets your organization create a crowdsourced ‘mission’

By Kim Bale
Socialbrite staff

Recruiting friends and supporters to get real work done virtually on behalf of social-good projects is easy and fun with the help of The Extraordinaries. Based in San Francisco, the company has created a platform allowing anyone to create a micro-task and blast it to their community of friends and supporters to generate real, usable output when they spend a few minutes of their spare time on an iPhone or computer.

You can download the iPhone app at and check out a wide array of simple tasks you can help with. Missions featured today on the Beextra home page include:

  • Build a collection of cute dog photos for
  • Help build a searchable photo archive for the Smithsonian Institution (yes, that Smithsonian).
  • Create a list of job resources for youths on behalf of Goodwill.
  • Rate tweets from the SXSW conference.

banner-180x150The tools The Extraordinaries have created are available to nonprofits, for-profits, politicos, evangelists and passionate people alike. For example, Citizens Market, a company tracking corporate behavior, is using The Extraordinaries to research and rate company behavior. To map children’s recreational spaces, KaBOOM! is asking people to mark the GPS location of a playground, rate it up or down and snap a photo, such as the one at top.

Anyone can create a mission and harness the power of the crowd to achieve results while engaging and interacting with the broader community — the Extraordinaries has 29,000 registered users, more than 250 missions and 240,000 micro-tasks completed. The team vetts all apps submitted to the site.

Ways for nonprofits to use The Extraordinaries

How can you use The Extraordinaries?

1. Identify your needs. Many tasks, particularly administrative duties, are ripe for crowdsourcing. The Extraordinaries breaks these tasks into small bits of work with the potential for a big impact. Where could you use a few hundred extra hands? First identify your needs, then see how The Extraordinaries community can help meet them.

Use the community to organize your photo archive by adding descriptive tags, making it searchable and easy to navigate.

2. Create a mission. The Extraordinaries has created a few standard templates, making it easy to create a micro-task, or “mission,” and the list continues to grow.

• Build a map. Whether your organization is creating a map of playgrounds across the country or you just want to locate community gardens, this mission will allow your friends and supporters to help you build the map.

• Collect photos. Let the general population help you build a photo library with this mission. Users take and upload photos, which can then be rated, creating a ranked stock library for you to use.

• Tag and catalog photos. Organize your photo archive with the help of The Extraordinaries. Friends and supporters can add descriptive tags to your digital library, making it searchable and easy to navigate.

• Research a topic or issue. Need research on grants available to your organization, or information on businesses not engaging in sustainable practices? Let your community help do the research and generate usable data.

KaBOOM!3. Complete your profile. Just like any social site, The Extraordinaries asks that you complete a profile for your organization. Upload a logo that is simple and recognizable, along with a brief description of who you are, what you do and why you’re asking for help. These are largely read on mobile phones, so brevity is key.

4. Engage your community. Let your friends and supporters know they can do real work for you via their iPhone or computer. Encourage them to download the iPhone app or complete your mission via the Web. The Extraordinaries can provide you with direct links to your mission page and embeddable tools for your website. When people complete your mission, they’ll have the opportunity to tweet about it and share it via Facebook or email, increasing your exposure and missions completed.

At South by Southwest Interactive on Friday, a TechSoup representative cited the Extraordinaries’ efforts to bring a new dimension to relief efforts after the earthquake in Haiti. The site collected 8,137 news photos and volunteers submitted 76,584 image tags, resulting in 746 possible matches and 24 matches good enough to contact family members.

Clearly, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the service’s possible uses in the years ahead.

The app is not yet available on other platforms.

How would you use The Extraordinaries? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Kim Bale, a former staffer at the Extraordinaries, is interested in exploring how nonprofits can use technology for social good.

The Extraordinaries: Building the ‘micro-volunteering’ movement (Socialbrite)

New ways to take social actions (Socialbrite)

Harnessing the crowd for social good (Socialbrite)Kim Bale was recently the community outreach specialist for The Extraordinaries. Follow her on Twitter at @balekimb.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 UnportedThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.

2 thoughts on “Tap into the collective power of your community

  1. I just took the beextra app for a spin. It's amazing in its own right, but the window in to future possibilities is what's really extraordinary.