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Microvolunteering: A Digital Strategy for the Future?

UK Government Digital StrategyBack in January the UK Government invited organisations and individuals alike to share their ideas on how the UK’s digital revolution could be taken to the next stage. As an organisation that is dedicated to promoting the concept of online microvolunteering, we (Help From Home) proposed several ideas focussed around the concept of bite-sized benevolence that we felt could be embraced within the UK Government’s 5 year digital strategy. In the spirit of transparency and hopeful discussion, here’s our suggestions:

1) the government is proposing a 3 day volunteering scheme for firms that employ over 250 staff. A  platform could be set up to tap into the skills of staff at government departments / local councils to work on small microvolunteering tasks that other government departments may not have at their ready disposal, eg graphic design, social media. This idea has already either been mooted in America with Skillville, or is actually operational via Open Opportunities. For an idea of the type of microvolunteering actions that could be created, refer to this extensive list of task suggestions

2) Many research studies have shown there is a connection between volunteering and improved well-being, which in turn could have a positive effect on a person’s health. As microvolunteering actions can go direct to a person, convalescing patients could be prescribed a daily 10 minute microvolunteering ‘well-being workout’. This could have the potential to improve a patients recovery time, and thus save money for the health service in the process. For more information on this idea, refer to this webpage

3) There is a mindset within employee supported volunteering (ESV) schemes that activities have to revolve around traditional volunteering tasks, eg community hall painting. If microvolunteering activities were embraced within an ESV scheme, employees could be earning CSR (corporate social responsibility) points for their employers during their lunchbreak (without leaving the office) or even on their commute to and from work. Many surveys have revealed that employee retention improves if an ESV scheme is in place. As microvolunteering actions can be participated by all employees from the Cleaner to the CEO, the aforementioned survey suggests this could improve productivity, as staff work at a higher performance level when engagement activities are present.

4) Microvolunteering actions can be performed from a person’s own home. This attribute could be promoted to unemployed people as a way to build up their work based skills without having to spend any money travelling to a traditional volunteering activity, which they might not be able to afford. For those people who have an inclination towards using volunteering activities to boost their CV, home based microvolunteering might be a way forward to increase their chances of gaining employment. Microvolunteering could potentially contribute to reducing the number of people out of work, and thus reduce the burden / reliance on benefit pay outs. You can find more information on this subject via a microvolunteering Skills 4 You project.

5) Social isolation amongst seniors is a big issue, and for those with mobility issues even more so. Bearing in mind that home based online microvolunteering tasks can be delivered direct to a person rather than the other way round, empowering the socially isolated with home based altruistic roles could help to increase their self worth, self esteem, and self confidence. This in turn may reduce the burden on social welfare workers who may have less of the effects of social isolation to deal with. For more information on this subject, see here.

With its ability to deliver on-demand opportunities directly to a person wherever they are, microvolunteering could certainly open up new ways to create a more digitally integrated society. The increasing use of technology will certainly change the volunteering landscape in the next 5-10 years. We believe the microvolunteering concept will play a part in this change. Watch this space!

First published March, 2016