Social Good Blog Post

Micro-volunteering: Why Your Charity Should Care About this Trend

yellow telephone on yellow background

The world around us is changing at a remarkable pace. Once upon a time we had to actually leave our homes to participate in society and complete necessary tasks such as food-shopping. Now, we have handy little devices through which we can request almost anything we could ever want to be delivered straight to our door (a lifesaver now that we are actually confined to our homes by government order).

We can communicate instantly across the world, send money to friends (or strangers) and maybe even meet the love of our life all through these devices. And with the rising popularity of flexi-hours and remote working, more and more people don’t even have to get out of their pyjamas to go to work.

What does this mean for my charity?

If technology has influenced the private sector so extensively, it must surely be making big waves in the public sector too, right?

Wrong.

In fact, the NCVO Road Ahead 2020 claims that many charities still have not embraced digital practices and are in danger of being left behind.

Don’t let this be your charity.

While it may seem daunting at first, getting ahead of digital trends and embracing new technology will make your life so much easier in the long-term and ensure the survival of your charity into the future.

Recent events have accelerated the third sector’s move to digital in an unprecedented way. Now, more than ever, it is clear that learning how to use technology is a requirement of modern life and a necessity that will get you through the next couple of months.

What is micro-volunteering?

Micro-volunteering is the act of donating small chunks of your time to small tasks, often using a phone or a laptop to complete. It can also be referred to as online volunteering. Micro-volunteering opportunities are quick (lasting under 30 minutes), easy (there is little to no training or vetting involved), and simple (there are no agreements to be signed).

Examples of micro-volunteering opportunities include:

  • Welfare check-in calls
  • Mentoring
  • Copywriting/editing
  • Social media management
  • Marketing support
  • IT advice
  • Editing/proofreading

There are some incredible organisations which make use of micro-volunteering to positively impact the lives of users. The app, Be My Eyes, for example, which connects blind and low-vision users to sighted volunteers who can help them with everyday tasks such as reading food labels in the supermarket or finding lost or dropped items. Or Volunteer Dundee’s Morning Call service where volunteers offer a short, 10-minute morning call to check on a user’s wellbeing and remind them of any appointments or medications.

consider which processes or tasks within your organisation could be completed quickly by a volunteer with the relevant skills - micro-volunteering

How do I get involved?

Think about ways in which your charity could make better use of available technology. Consider which processes or tasks within your organisation could be completed quickly by a volunteer with the relevant skills.

Lali Tudela from Volunteer Dundee recommends checking your volunteer opportunities against a list of requirements for micro-volunteering to see if they’re suitable.

A micro-volunteering opportunity must be:

  • Quick – usually no more than 30 minutes
  • Not location specific – a volunteer should be able to complete their task from wherever they are
  • Simple – clear instructions should be provided so the volunteer understands what is expected of them and feels supported to complete the task
  • Easily accessible – there should be little to no training required and no vetting process for volunteers
  • Flexible – micro-volunteers donate their time as and when they feel like it and will not be able to commit to a strict schedule
  • Rewarding – people are unlikely to donate their time to boring, admin-based jobs with no thanks. Try to make your opportunities as entertaining as possible and make the impact of your volunteers immediately and clearly visible.

Micro-volunteering, or online volunteering, is not right for every type of volunteering opportunity and is by no means a replacement for traditional volunteering roles. The aim of this opportunity is to break down one of the biggest barriers to volunteering: lack of time, and to harness the collective impact of hundreds of tiny good deeds.

How will your organisation embrace digital trends and get involved with micro-volunteering in the future? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by Betty Henderson

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