There are profits to be made, as well as savings, that could be used for social impact – all thanks to the internet, says Adil Abrar.

A website in America, which has become an “ebay for errands,” could provide much needed inspiration for UK charities, housing associations and social enterprises looking to beat the cuts to public spending.

The service is simple. People post the jobs they need doing but don't have time to do – from laundry to pet care – and others bid to do the tasks for a fee. The service has been a real success. Since 1998, it has created earnings of $10.4m (£6.7m) for its community of “taskrabbits”, of whom 70% are unemployed or under-employed. As the organisation takes a cut of every deal, at an average 15%, it's likely the company revenues will be in the millions. Which probably explains why it has expanded into six cities and raised $5m in investment capital.

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