Travels from New York, USA
Rachael Chong's speaking fee falls within range: $10,000 to $15,000
Named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders, Rachael Chong is an exceptional young woman who has truly committed herself to making the world a better place through her personal life and the founding of her company Catchafire, an online platform that matches professionals wishing to volunteer with nonprofit organizations that need their skills.
Educated in Columbia and Duke, Rachael was a successful investment banker looking to give back to her community. Her firm connected her with a volunteer position building a house; however while struggling to lift wooden beams, the petite Rachael became discouraged that she was not using her time in the most efficient way. Failing to find a volunteer opportunity that took advantage of her talents, Rachael left financial services to work in the nonprofit sector.
A few years later Rachael took charge of starting up BRAC USA, an affiliate of BRAC, the world’s largest non-governmental development organization. Using a network of friends and acquaintances to volunteer their skills in the process, she was able to raise 40 million dollars in less than nine months. Rachael channeled her experiences into the foundation of Catchafire, which under her leadership has become the world’s largest online skills based platform, producing millions of dollars of value in donated time each year.
As the founder and CEO of Catchafire, an innovative technology platform that connects nonprofits with professionals looking to volunteer their skills, Rachael’s paving the way for the creation of a more efficient and effective social good sector.
Under her leadership, Catchafire has become the world’s largest online skills-based volunteer platform, transforming the nonprofit workforce by mobilizing pro bono and skills-based service volunteers to produce millions of dollars in value of donated time each year.
Catchafire was founded based on the belief that a powerful volunteer experience can change someone’s life and that the experience of giving your best self and witnessing the impact it has on others can awaken the changemaker in each of us.
Her cross-sector experience provides a refreshing perspective on giving back that inspires others to realize their ability to act upon generous intentions.
Rachael’s commitment to innovation in the giving space earned her recognition as one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2012. Her entrepreneurial spirit inspires audiences to challenge their current thinking, take risks and make a difference in their communities.
Rachael advocates the power of giving, sharing a personal anecdote that made her realize that in order to be a generous person, one must have perspective and empathy. She explains that when she used to live in Bangladesh she’d hand out individually wrapped biscuits to beggar children in the street each day on her way to work when one day something unexpected occurred. “As I turned away to leave I felt a tugging on my pant leg. I looked down to see [a little boy] handing back the packet of biscuits. It’s really hard to admit, but in that moment I felt angry and appalled,” she remembers. Rachael assumed that the boy was rejecting her gift, until he turned to show her that he was missing his other arm. “Without two hands he couldn’t open the packet of biscuits and he needed my help...The moment still makes me tear up, less for the boy and more for myself. What was wrong with me? Why did I judge this little boy so harshly?”
Rachael found the answer to her question over the course of five years working at Catchafire. She observed that the most generous volunteers shared one specific trait; they attribute whom they are to luck. “Just reflect on all of the factors that were out of your control that helped set you up for a successful career, a happy marriage, a good family,” she lists. “When you realize that much of who you are came from luck, you also realize that others, the homeless person on the street, the drug addict, the incarcerated, they too were dealt a hand that they could not help. And when you see that, it’s that moment where empathy comes from.”
A leader of the millennial generation, a demographic that will soon make up the majority the work force, Rachael understands that her peers have a drive to make the world a better place. She shows businesses how they can harness that drive and incorporate service programs into the workplace to better engage employees at a time in history where employee disengagement is at 70%. Using her multiyear exploration of generosity, she challenges all listeners to give their talents and spare time to transform the world while in turn transforming themselves.
Employee Engagement 2.0
Rachael Chong believes that every company has the opportunity to infuse meaning into the workplace. With employee disengagement rates reaching 70%, she knows that companies must think of new, creative ways to engage their employees, while also tapping into the needs of the millennial generation who will make up 75% of the workforce by 2020.
The millennial generation is highly motivated by the opportunity to make a difference in the world and companies must address these unique values through quality volunteer service programs. Capitalizing on an understanding of her own generation, Rachael shares insights on how to think about making the business case for service and also how to think about investments for these types of programs. Her work provides proof that holistic and well-tailored engagement programs have the potential to enhance the company’s bottom line while increasing employee morale, productivity and return on investment.
Rachael’s goal is to inspire leaders to rethink the way companies interact with their stakeholders, ultimately inspiring a new wave of employee engagement programs. Empowering the millennial generation—which prioritizes giving back—to become leaders and changemakers in the workforce will undoubtedly make our world a better place.
Rethinking Giving + Scaling Social Impact
Presented with the realities of poverty as well as luck of circumstance at a young age, Rachael Chong committed her life to empowering others to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. She calls on an array of experiences that have shaped her belief in generosity.
Whether it be utilizing pro bono relationships to raise millions of dollars to scale an affiliate of one of the largest nonprofits in the world (BRAC USA) or devising creative tricks to supply beggars in Bangladesh with aid that wouldn’t end up in the hands of the corrupt, or developing a solution to reinvent the way we give, Rachael’s multiyear exploration of generosity challenges listeners to get in touch with their empathetic side.
She believes that all people should have the opportunity to be transformed by a positive volunteer experience and that all social good organizations should have access to top talent. She asks nonprofit leaders to think strategically about the human capital available to them and encourages individuals to volunteer the best of themselves—their skills and talents—to amplify their power to change the world.
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