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Emerging Trends in the Microvolunteering Arena

The United Nations Volunteers issued a report on 5th December, 2011, ‘State of the World’s Volunteerism’, which described microvolunteering as 1 of 3 fast growing trends in the global volunteering arena. To support this statement, a November 2013 study by UK based Institute of Volunteering Research concluded that the demand for microvolunteering actions from individuals was increasing.

Since 2008, when the modern era of microvolunteering first began to gain popularity, the relationship between individuals and nonprofits has taken on a form similar to the traditional volunteering sector, ie nonprofits would create microvolunteering actions where individuals would participate in them. Nothing new then!

But these days, emerging trends are exploiting some of the innovative aspects of the microvolunteering concept, where businesses and volunteering involved organisations are managing a collection of these nonprofit microvolunteering actions and using them in settings to springboard projects that traditional volunteering actions are unable to be moulded into. Some of the innovative aspects of microvolunteering which are being exploited include those actions:

  • that can go to a person rather than a person going to a volunteering event / place
  • that can be participated on-the-spot, and on-demand with no commitment

So, what are these emerging trends:

Since 2014, students seem to be latching on to the concept and using microvolunteering actions at Freshers Fairs, Student Volunteering Week. Previously, students might have handed out leaflets at their stalls, but now they’re setting up laptops to encourage instant engagement in the possible hopes this will attract more buy-in to the volunteering concept, as a whole. See this document for examples

Employee volunteering schemes mostly rely on participating in traditional volunteering opportunities at a defined place and time. However, businesses with very mobile non-office based workforces who want to earn CSR kudos points are very restricted in terms of what they can offer their employees due to the flexible / mobile nature of their work. Cue microvolunteering, where firms like State Street Bank and Sapiens are offering or looking into the concept to engage their employees in a bit of bite-sized benevolence from wherever and whatever time zone they may be in the world

Many studies have shown a connection between volunteering and improved well-being. Interest has been increasing from the health sector about how microvolunteering actions, which can be taken to a person’s bed could benefit convalescing patients and even improve their recovery time. See this article which was featured as part of the ‘100 Stories in 100 Days’ project by the UK National Health Service (NHS)

And lastly, microvolunteering now has it’s own International Awareness Day: held on April 15th, every year and designed for volunteer involved organisations and individuals to join together in a synchronised effort to promote their contributions and demonstrate the potential of the microvolunteering concept.

So now you know what’s going on in the microvolunteering world. Are you tapping into its potential?

First published in March, 2015