How To Change The World For The Better In 5 Minutes
Do you still have that drive to help change the world for the better, but feel that limited time, job commitments or other circumstances prevent you from volunteering?
Many people wish to help change the world for the better, but are limited in their volunteering abilities because of the time they can allocate to the tasks needed. Job commitments and the demands of daily life all seem to get in the way of actively volunteering and so people end up feeling frustrated and guilty that they cannot do more. In many cases, people with specialist backgrounds know that they have a skill that could be put to good use outside the work environment but have no outlet for their volunteering desire. In other cases, people actually have time on their hands, such as recovering from a bout of illness or mobility constraints, but do not have the means to physically volunteer for projects, especially those located away from home.
For would-be volunteers help is now at hand thanks to the concept of “microvolunteering”, which channels peoples’ efforts towards causes in a time effective and flexible manner. Several definitions of the term microvolunteering currently exist. A straightforward way in which to understand the idea comes from the organization Help from Home, which outlines it as “easy, quick low-commitment actions that benefit a worthy cause”. In effect, microvolunteering is all about “micro effort in order to generate macro impact.” In practice, this can mean spending a spare 5 or 10 minutes devoted to a project, which is well within the means of most people. The rapid development of technologies such as the Internet and the rise of social media mean that those few minutes can have a powerful, positive impact on worthy causes anywhere on the planet!
Microvolunteers are real people!
Microvolunteering is still not on many people’s radars at the moment and so organizations like Help from Home aim to bring this concept to a wider audience. However, microvolunteering is not just something that exists in theory – real people are involved in microvolunteering and are making a genuine impact! What is more is that people love the experience so much that they get involved in other projects and are recommending microvolunteering to their family, friends and work colleagues.
Luke was looking for ways to volunteer but microvolunteering was something he had never heard of before and he needed to fit projects in with his schedule.
“I looked it up and saw the impact it has and how simple it is and easy to get involved in”, he comments. “I have been researching for a couple of hours here and there for HelpFromHome in order to spread the word about volunteering and giving them links and ideas for websites to support their resource pack.”
Most of his microvolunteering has been from home on his laptop. However, since he started he has even managed to contribute ideas while travelling in the car and on the bus.
The ways in which people find out about microvolunteering are as diverse as the projects they become involved with. Marion has been microvolunteering by creating tag-lines for charities and events from the comfort of her home.
“I read about it in the newspaper, and thought it would be a great way to keep my marketing skills sharp while I job hunt” she says. “It’s very easy to do, quick, and makes me feel happy. I do feel like I’ve made an impact. Even if my tag-lines aren’t ultimately used, they may have prompted an idea for someone else”.
Sara found out about microvolunteering through a meeting at work where people were encouraged to support charities using their own personal skills.
“My experience of microvolunteering has been extremely satisfying, it’s been easy to apply the skills I have and support and help others who require it” she explains. “I have already talked about my experience of microvolunteering with my work team and I know that one of my colleagues has since signed up for something similar.”
The all-round benefits of microvolunteering are also real, as the enthusiastic participants will happily tell you.
“I feel as though I absolutely have made an impact and continue to do so,”
believes Ashley, who has participated in over 70 microvolunteering challenges. He thinks that the Internet has helped with his volunteering commitments as it reduces the time needed to travel to the organization and therefore maximizes the time that can be devoted to the projects. He also sees other advantages.
“I’ve been able to connect with people that I wouldn’t have necessarily been able to through these other ways of volunteering.”
Rai was keen to get involved in multiple microvolunteering projects as it magnified the impact of what she could do.
“I wanted to give back to just as many people as possible each year,” he says. “I’ve mostly done design work and offer up my opinion to others. I think it is an awesome tool that helps non-profits and community organizations alike.”
Age is certainly no restriction to microvolunteering. Jack has been participating in projects featuring various types of research, converting documents, and editing web site information.
“I’m retired and still have my skills along with some extra time,” he explains. “I wanted to use them in the service of non-profit organizations to contribute to their work and to feel good about it.”
Get involved and have fun!
In their feedback, microvolunteers are enthusiastic about what they do and are keen for others to join in. The experience is a rewarding one for all involved and changes their perceptions about what they can do to make a difference.
“I felt uplifted knowing I had done some things to make the world a better place and seeing how lots of other people volunteer and want to do good,“ comments Sarah. “If more people get involved, people will start to incorporate volunteering and acts of kindness into their daily lives. I think microvolunteering makes volunteering seem more accessible, and encourages me to think about all the small things I can do like helping family, strangers and spreading happiness.”
In addition, microvolunteers emphasize how much joy their involvement has brought them.
“I would recommend microvolunteering to others because it easy, fun, neat and interesting and it is also not very time consuming, “ says Koren. “I love how it depends on lots of people and it’s a sharing experience,” agrees Deb.
Thanks to the flexibility it offers, the opportunities for microvolunteering are huge! Whatever your personal circumstances, age or global location there are opportunities to suit you and organizations who would be delighted to hear from you.
First published October, 2013
Author: Faiz Kermani, HFH Volunteer, writer of children’s books and involved in various literary initiatives
Testimonials collected from a survey conducted by Help From Home, started in February 2013 and still ongoing at time of writing.