Can You Change The World In Your Lunch Break?
Many people know the importance of volunteering as a way to give back to the community, as well as a way to help a worthy cause. Many young people do this as a way to improve their own skill set at the same time. As Noreena Hertz recently documented in an article in The Guardian newspaper, ‘The selfie generation isn’t, it turns out, that selfish after all: 92% believe that helping others in need is important’ but fitting in meaningful volunteering that is respectful of one’s time still remains a challenge alongside studies, work and other responsibilities.
Help From Home appreciates this and have made their website a one-stop-shop for quick and easy ways to get yourself involved in a variety of different volunteering opportunities ranging from from 1 minute activities to more complex and in-depth opportunities that can be completed in under 30 minutes. Here are some pointers for those wishing to dip their toe into the world of microvolunteering in their lunch break.
Would you want to do this in your lunch break?
First of all, for many people, a lunch break is a much needed few moments to relax from the stresses of the work day. So would you really want to give volunteering a go in this short amount of time? If you spend your lunch having some quiet time away from the computer then maybe not. Perhaps 10 minutes or so in the evening would be better suited to you, but if you spend any of your lunch break doing the following; playing games, browsing Facebook, hashtagging, retweeting, playing on smartphone apps and participating in quizzes, then you’re in luck. These are exactly the same kinds of activities that can be found on the Help From Home website, that also benefit worthy causes at the same time. See this article for more details.
Can you really make an impact by volunteering your lunch break?
When thinking of volunteering a few minutes per week, you may wonder if this can have any meaningful positive impact at all. Here are some figures that show just how helpful charities are finding the micro-actions featured on Help From Home:
Describe Me (describing pictures for the blind) Up to April 2016, 20,119 images described for the blind or people with low vision
FreeRice (charity donating game) Up to April 2016, over 97 billion grains of rice donated to the hungry
Mappiness (mobile app tracking impact of people’s well-being for research) Up to May 2016, 65,249 participants contributing data to project that attempts to make the world happier
This should give you an idea of the staggering effect that a lot of people giving a little time can have. If you would like to track your own individual impact there is also an ‘impact tracking’ category on the Help From Home website. This allows you to select the activities that will show you how much effect your volunteering has had.
How to get started lending your lunch
There are lots of ways to get started microvolunteering in your lunch break. Maybe you could begin by becoming involved with a particular awareness day. Head to the Help From Home website, search by cause, pick your activity and get involved.
You could also speak to the person usually in charge of charity or social events at your place of work or study and ask them to set up a lunchbreak volunteering group, where you could give it a name like ‘Munch n Microvolunteer’, ‘Bite-sized Benefit’ or ‘Lend Your Lunchbreak’! Get everyone together, pick an activity from the website and get volunteering, it really is that simple. You could even set up a bronze, silver and gold incentives for the people who have volunteered the most time – you can’t go far wrong with a bit of healthy competition.
Why not suggest this as an alternative to the next bake sale/craft fair/marathon run that is inclusive of most skill sets, time allowances and, depending on the activity, it costs virtually nothing. You could have an all-day ‘sponsored volunteering marathon’ and raise money for charity whilst volunteering!
How to make a big impact outside the office
You could collaborate with a restaurant or café and suggest charity benefitting apps and websites that could be advertised on the menu to encourage lunchtime visitors to microvolunteer with their smartphones. Or perhaps you could run a scheme where customers are invited to play the FreeRice game (a quiz game that donates grains of rice to hungry people at no cost to the player) on tablets or laptops whilst waiting for their food to be served. Offer them an incentive to reach 2000 grains of rice, in exchange for a 5% discount voucher at their next visit. Combine this with a bit of publicity in the local media, and it has the potential to bring in more customers for the restaurant whilst benefitting hungry people around the world.
How you can change your life in your lunch break
As well as looking at it from an awareness day perspective there is also the opportunity to gain new skills or develop and use existing ones by checking out the Skills 4 You section on the Help From Home website. This section gives slightly longer tasks sorted by skill set; so if you have a penchant for paper folding you can make Origami cranes for Peace Day for a therapeutic break from the computer or get yourself in the great outdoors and do some bird tracking or ladybird spotting. There are lots of ways to lend a hand whilst bolstering your own CV in the process.
So, if you’re charitably minded and want to squeeze in some do goodness during your working day, then performing a bit of bite-sized benevolence that doesn’t eat into your lunchbreak may well be the way to go. As the made up saying goes, ‘Make your mealtimes more meaningful by microvolunteering!’
First published, April 2016
Guest author: Laura Cope