Microvolunteering: Quickies, Quandaries and Questions
A new type of volunteering is starting to attract media attention: microvolunteering. It has gained momentum as a creative way to use mobile phones, but in reality it is much more than that. Mike Bright, the founder of Help from Home, a UK Web site focused entirely on microvolunteering, shares his knowledge and unique perspective on this trend in this e-Volunteerism feature. Bright examines the quick nature of microvolunteering actions, explores the quandaries surrounding the concept of microvolunteering, and poses questions that need to be debated about the microvolunteering arena.
Help From Home, based in the UK, is probably the most comprehensive and extensive database of current, active microvolunteering opportunities on the Web. Our mission is to promote and encourage people to participate in home-based, microvolunteering opportunities by attempting to convey how easy it is to become involved as a volunteer. Thus our pyjama-oriented tagline!
At Help From Home, we primarily promote microvolunteering to people within their own homes, but have now extended this remit to cover office employees, schools, senior citizens and responsible tourism.
Microvolunteering: What’s it all about?
There seems to be a bit of a buzz around “microvolunteering” at the moment. The term is popping up in all sorts of places – America, Canada, United Kingdom and Israel, (*1) to name a few – but what’s it all about? This article will examine the quick nature of a microvolunteering opportunity; explore the quandaries surrounding the concept; and throw open questions that need to be debated for microvolunteering to develop as a creditable branch of volunteering.
Microvolunteering is defined as …well, here’s our first quandary! There are a few definitions doing the rounds at the moment. Microvolunteering is variously explained as:
1) Enabling people to use their cell phones to do a few minutes of service at a time. “It’s on-demand and on-the-spot.” (*2)
2) Small, quick, low-commitment actions that benefit a worthy cause. This is the definition we use at Help From Home. View our video, ‘Micro Volunteer – in just your pyjamas!’, that crystallizes this a bit more.
3) Wikipedia simply adds microvolunteering as an alternate phrase for “virtual volunteering:”
Virtual volunteering, also sometimes called as eVolunteering, online volunteering or micro-volunteering, is a term describing a volunteer who completes tasks, in whole or in part, offsite from the organization being assisted, using the Internet and a home, school, telecenter or work computer or other Internet-connected device, such as a PDAs or smartphone. Virtual volunteering is also known as cyber service, telementoring, and teletutoring, and various other names. (*3)
Definition 1 appears to be more prevalent in the United States, largely through the efforts of Skills For Change, a San Francisco based social enterprise that has been promoting the use of ‘social good’ for the benefit of charities and nonprofits.
Definitions 2 and 3 appear to be more prevalent elsewhere, especially in the UK, largely through our efforts at Help From Home (with our directory for microvolunteer initiatives), i-volunteer (UK’s leading social action network) and, more recently, vinspired (UK organisation promoting volunteering to 14-25 year olds).
Microvolunteering has also been variously described as snack-sized volunteering, small volunteering, casual volunteering, and volunteer-on-demand. It embraces other such forms of volunteering as mobile volunteering (exclusively via smartphones), virtual or online volunteering (exclusively via the Internet) and traditional volunteering (mostly associated with offline volunteering and, in this context, tasks that can be completed in a small amount of time). Other terms in usage, current and historical, are cyber service, telementoring, teletutoring, digital volunteering, byte-size volunteering and e-volunteering.
How micro is micro? What’s the smallest and largest length of time that microvolunteering should embrace?
A few initiatives that promote microvolunteering use slightly different time packets as their bench mark for what is or isn’t microvolunteering. Help From Home, for instance, concentrates on those actions where the main bulk of the task, if not all of it, can be completed within one or more sessions that last between 10 seconds and 30 minutes. The Volunteer On DemandTM initiative of Volunteer Guide focuses on tasks that can be completed within a window of 15 minutes to a few hours, whereas the Spanish directory Microvoluntarios (now defunct) features actions that could take 15 to 120 minutes.
This article will concentrate on those tasks featured at Help From Home. These tasks demonstrate the distinction between what can be achieved in 30 minutes as opposed to what needs a couple of hours, which seems more akin to the time frame of some traditional volunteering tasks.
Brief History of Microvolunteering
Microvolunteering has its roots in online volunteering which has been in existence probably since the start of the Internet, as in USENET, where online users were helping other users. Perhaps the first recognised type of formal online volunteering – inviting people to contribute to a not-for-profit project – was Project Gutenberg, which recruited online volunteers to convert public domain books into electronic versions. In 1995, Impact Online (now Volunteer Match) began promoting the idea of virtual volunteering; by 1999, its Virtual Volunteering Project had identified almost 100 organisations that involved online volunteers and published The Virtual Volunteering Guidebook: Applying the Principles of Real-World Volunteer Management to Online Service. (*4)
The concept of ‘crowdsourcing’ volunteer tasks has been attributed to journalist Jeff Howe, who in a 2006 article in Wired magazine described crowdsourcing as “the process by which the power of the many could be leveraged to accomplish feats that were once the province of the specialised few.” (*5)
The first organisation to register the term microvolunteering, albeit the Spanish equivalent, was Microvoluntarios – a Whois record, dated 23rd November, 2006 can be found here. They went public in May, 2008 by offering volunteering tasks that were uploaded by nonprofits and which would take between 15 minutes to 2 hours to complete – arguably the world’s first microvolunteering network. (*6)
Using crowdsourcing techniques, The Extraordinaries (now known as Sparked) introduced a mobile phone app in early 2009 (first mooted online in April, 2008 by Ben Rigby CTO and co-founder of The Extraordinaries) that allowed small volunteer tasks to be completed in small snatches of time, ‘on demand and on the go,’ under the label of ‘micro-volunteering.’ In Jacob Colker’s (CEO and co-founder of The Extraordinaries) words:
“In August of 2008, Ben (Rigby) and I were trying to find a term that would create a pivot from traditional volunteerism. Inspired by Muhammad Yunus (2006 Nobel Laureate) and the phrase “micro-finance,” we felt that “micro-volunteering” was a great way to describe the field we were trying to create. Was that the first time the term was used? We don’t know. But, we believe that we did coin the term.” (*7)
This phone app idea is catching hold in many ways. Consider this international iPhone app service example called ‘Give Work’ from Samasource and Crowdflower (now defunct – Oct 2011):
Give Work lets you support refugees in Dadaab, Kenya – the world’s largest refugee site – in minutes by completing short, on-screen tasks. The refugees are training to complete these same tasks and, by volunteering to tag a video or trace a road, you will generate money to support their training as valuable data to help focus future training programs. (*8)
When you consider that the number of mobile phone subscriptions worldwide has reached a reported 4.6 billion, (*9) the potential is obvious.
Now add in the power of social media. Here are two examples: Facebook has launched Progress thru Processors (allowing members to “contribute to life-saving research simply by sharing your computer’s processing power”); and Twitter’s Twitcause helps nonprofits get the attention of tweeters by highlighting a different organisation each Thursday.
In December 2008, Help From Home went live with over 450 microvolunteering opportunities available to a microvolunteer. As of October 2011, Help From Home features over 800 current, active opportunities from around the world, with probably another 200 more projected to be added by the end of the year. Susan J. Ellis of Energize, Inc. (and Editor of e-Volunteerism) has called Help From Home, the ‘only Web site at the moment that is pushing the boundaries of microvolunteering’. (*10)
Other microvolunteering initiatives have either tried to reach the market or are now operational:
December 2010 – ChangeMachine: Microvolunteering for students (still in development)
December 2010 – InternCloud: Microvolunteering for interns (still in development)
June 2011 – BrightWorks: UK based microvolunteering network (now defunct – 2013)
June 2011 – Troopp: Indian based microvolunteering network (now defunct – 2013)
October 2011 – Koodonation: Canadian based microvolunteering network (operational)
Causes and Activities
What causes does micro-volunteering embrace? ‘Traditional’ online or virtual volunteering, from which microvolunteering arguably stems from, has included providing multimedia expertise such as preparing PowerPoint or other computer based presentations; designing an agency’s newsletter or brochure; designing a logo or other illustrations; ensuring that a Web site is accessible for people with disabilities; and so on.
Current micro-volunteering includes all of the above. But with reference to the actions featured on Help From Home, mirovolunteering more specifically invites quick actions such as:
- Donating your hair to disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss: 5 minutes – Locks of Love
- Allowing the use of the spare processing power of your computer to predict climate change: initially 5 minutes, then zilch – Climate Prediction
- Completing a survey after which, at no cost to you, a donation will be made to charity: 15 minutes – Opinion World
- Making a micro-loan (roughly £10/$15), change a life and then get paid back to re-loan again: 10 minutes – Deki
- Using free software to reduce the power consumption of your computer and so save the world’s resources: initially 3 minutes, then zilch – WatchOverEnergy (now defunct – 2013)
- Contributing to abolishing slavery by signing an online petition: 2 minutes – Anti Slavery
- Helping astronomers classify galaxies via the Internet: 10 minutes – Galaxy Zoo
- Participating in plant or bird counts in your own backyard for bio-diversity research projects: 20 – 30 minutes – Spring Alive
At Help From Home, we continually discuss whether or not to list different types of actions that may – or may not – reflect the philosophy of microvolunteering. For instance:
- Should Love Bombs be featured? This is an initiative to muster loads of people to provide supportive, kind comments (a “Love Bomb”) on others’ blogs in order to uplift their spirits during a crisis or health problem they are experiencing. It only takes 5-10 minutes to complete, but is uplifting someone’s spirits enough of a service to be considered ‘volunteering’?
- What about asking a person to forage around their home for spare or gently used stationery via Pens of Hope in Davao to donate to a school needing supplies in a developing country? It should take less than 30 minutes to complete, but is recycling/donating such items ‘volunteering’?
- Should click-to-donate websites be featured like Clicks 4 Charity? These are sites where you click a ‘Donate’ button that then takes you to another page that normally features adverts. These advertisers are paying for your eyeballs and a percentage of the generated ad revenue will be donated to whatever cause the Web site is supporting. These actions generally take about 10 seconds to complete, but is giving up your time for 10 seconds too short a time period to be considered volunteering, even though you are helping to raise money for worthy causes?
All these opportunities arguably satisfy at least the minimum recognized definitions of volunteering: helping out an organisation or someone you don’t know; giving up your own time; and participating in unpaid work.
I think it’s fair to say that there are no set rules yet when it comes to deciding what is or isn’t a microvolunteering action. I use a purely subjective review system to decide what is or isn’t included in the Help From Home database and it’s based loosely around what one U.S. Supreme Court justice once famously said when he couldn’t define pornography, but went on to clarify his line of thinking by stating that “I know it when I see it!” (*11)
Impact Already in Evidence
What evidence is there that people can make meaningful contributions in such short bursts of time? How do they make a difference to others?
Listed below are various facts and figures I found on each initiative’s Web site or blog. Although I have made no attempt to verify the figures, they are worth attention:
- Replyforall (adverts in e-mails, now defunct), September 2008 to December 2009: provided a day of protective services for 10,114 animals, provided a year of clean water for 4,541people, and more.
- Kibblekat (online charity donating quiz), up to October 2010: donated 286,876,650 pieces or 280 tons of kibble (cat and dog food to animal shelters).
- Everyclick (charity donating search engine), up to October 2010: UK£1,424,142 (US$1,643,190) raised for charity.
- Hunger Site (click-to-donate), June 1999 to October 2010: 328 million visitors clicked to give 25,000 metric tons of food or 447 million cups of food.
- Folding@Home (volunteer your spare pc power), up to October 2010: 400,000 active machines, received computational results from over 4.51 million devices, 75 peer reviewed scientific research papers published.
- The Extraordinaries (smartphone app, now known as Sparked), up to May 2010: micro-volunteers have completed over 300,000 tasks for more than 200 organisations.
- Project Linus (creating handmade blankets and afghans), up to June 2010: 3,465,151 handmade items delivered to good causes.
- The Petition Site (petition portal), up to October 2010: 70,041 petitions created with 46,538,035 signatures added via 14,354,492 members.
- Distributed Proofreaders (converting public domain books into e-books), up to September 2010: 18,792 books converted.
- CO2Saver (energy saving software), up to October 2010: 1,595,228 pounds of emission/greenhouse gases saved from being released into the atmosphere.
The above is just a very small sample of the number of micro-volunteer initiatives out there. For the purpose of this article, they have been cherry picked to demonstrate the impact that some organisations are achieving. Obviously, there are many, many more that are not having the same impact, but nevertheless are still making a quantifiable difference. Help From Home has provided a more comprehensive article on this subject for microvolunteering initiatives, entitled Evidence of Impact.
I think it’s fair to say that this area needs further research and study to properly evaluate the overall impact the microvolunteer arena is achieving. A cursory glance from my untrained eye of the initiatives not shown in the above statistics, however, would show promising returns.
The Pros and Cons of Micro-Volunteering
Reactions to microvolunteering have been mixed, but there appears to be a recognition that it responds to a need for people to volunteer in that way coupled with the availability of the technology to support it. It also matches the interests of Millennials and everyone immersed in Internet technology, social media and cell phone apps.
Here is a roundup of the pros and cons of microvolunteering, mainly related to home-based microvolunteering actions.
- Micro-actions can be conducted anywhere, at any time. You can do them while watching television, riding on the bus, or even reclined in bed! Volunteering can go wherever you go. People can control the environment in which they volunteer their time, making it potentially safer than traditional volunteer opportunities.
- Most micro-actions do not require commitment, which strips away one of the barriers that inhibits people from performing traditional volunteering. You can dip in and dip out whenever you want.
- Practically all microvolunteering opportunities require the minimal of training: You just read the instructions and go. This really pushes microvolunteering into the ‘easy’ bracket and once again, removes a stumbling block that often prevents people from volunteering in the first place. These attributes might encourage people to explore similar, additional actions and so the overall time spent on philanthropic actions might increase.
- You can now squeeze in more volunteering time, in-between your traditional philanthropic commitments.
- The huge diversity of the type of micro-actions goes beyond traditional volunteering opportunities – so there is more scope to do more good in new ways.
- The range of microvolunteering opportunities makes it all inclusive – no barriers to age, race, creed, culture, gender, etc.
- As with all virtual volunteering, it enlarges the volunteer pool to include people who are house-bound, have disabilities, have free time only at irregular intervals, or are located anywhere in the world.
- It has the potential to engage people in volunteering at a level they are comfortable with now, doing something they want. But at a later date, maybe when their lifestyle changes, they will be more likely to commit more time to that volunteering cause (which they might not have done if they weren’t involved in it by microvolunteering earlier in their life).
- Because most micro-actions are performed by an individual acting alone, it could be perceived as a lonely occupation and will not appeal to everyone
- Micro-actions are small tasks which, when combined with other people’s actions, produce an end result. Each volunteer is therefore divorced from seeing the whole picture and the ultimate outcome, which could be a bit frustrating if you’re the type of person who wants to see instant results
- There is usually no contact with the recipients of your action. You don’t get to see their smiles when you have helped them out. You have to be self-motivated to know that you are doing some good, and not everyone is.
- Even though your actions are combined with others and you are therefore engaged in teamwork, there is rarely any direct interaction with fellow microvolunteers. So, you may not feel part of a team and lose that satisfaction.
- With traditional volunteering opportunities, you can normally see proof for yourself that a result has been achieved with your actions. With microvolunteering there are limited ways to “see” success or prove results reported on a Web site.
- From the organisation’s point of view, there is less control over and interaction with the people they are reliant upon to help them out. It may take more effort to convince, motivate and encourage people to participate in their micro-action.
- Microvolunteering is not exactly well known yet, so people aren’t aware that micro-action can benefit worthy causes and don’t go looking for them. Organisations that want to benefit from people performing micro-actions have an uphill struggle to gather a pool of people to help them out. The time spent encouraging and finding microvolunteers may be better spent on other things with more effective results.
- It is quite possible that we could become frantically busy doing a lot of stuff that does make the doer feel great – which is important – but doesn’t add up to the systemic change needed in communities. Does busy mean the same thing as impact? (*12)
Volunteer Management Issues
Volunteer-involved organisations are only beginning to understand that people want flexible volunteering, which means a whole range of options, from one hour of service to a long-term commitment of many hours over a number of years. There’s a danger that if we now go in and start pitching volunteering that takes less than 10 minutes, we’re going to make it even harder to win over staff round and get their mindsets changed. To go from a programme that is based around long-term volunteers to a more bite-sized approach isn’t easy and we need to support people in this rather than berate them for not embracing new ideas. (*13)
They may also be concerned about how to manage microvolunteering. For example, how do you effectively screen people for their suitability as a volunteer and for the causes they wish to help? What about health and safety issues? Much of this has been dealt with in the last decade by organisations developing virtual volunteering opportunities. But here are some points that focus on micro actions.
Most of the microvolunteering opportunities on Help From Home have been purposefully chosen because they do not need a screening process, in an attempt to make this type of volunteering as accessible as possible. They have been set up as a self contained, do-it-by-the-book system, whereby if you step outside their procedures, your actions will not be counted or be effective, as with online petitions or click-to-donate websites. (*14)
For some microvolunteering opportunities, the lack of screening procedures has been replaced by safeguards to protect minors from unsuitable correspondence. Postpals is an initiative that encourages people to write cheery e-mails or letters to very sick children in the UK to uplift their spirits through a very difficult time. The organization assures that all such correspondence is first screened by friends or family members, before it reaches the child.
Another example of different ways to overcome the screening process is the method adopted by Distributed Proofreaders. This organisation spawned from Project Gutenberg, mentioned earlier, and provides a Web-based method to ease the conversion of public domain books into e-books. By dividing the workload into many pages, many volunteers can work on a book at the same time. There is no screening process, although volunteers do have to register their most basic of details. To ensure that public domain books are accurately converted, the organisation puts all the pages through many layers of increasingly more adept proofreaders. Their philosophy appears to be that many eyes will weed out any mistakes made by volunteers.
Health and Safety Issues
How do you monitor health and safety, risk assessment, equal opportunities and insurance cover for a home based microvolunteer opportunity? Along with screening procedures, these are the questions most often raised by organizations. Of course, there are no universal answers, although the public seems to embrace microvolunteering without getting hung up about red-tape policies.
In general, those who develop and support volunteer engagement have certainly put effort into learning and practicing risk management to protect both volunteers and the people they serve. Yet a cursory spot check of some of the initiatives featured on Help From Home reveals that most organisations do nothing about heath and safety issues, perhaps because it is just not necessary due to the way in which initiatives set up their microvolunteering actions.
Lou Jaap, the founder of Loving Hands, a group of charity knitters who make clothing, toys and teddies for worthy causes, expresses this argument in response to putting safety labels onto the items they make:
“If you are sitting in a slum in India with flies buzzing around your head and malaria-fuelled mosquitoes nipping at your skin, are you really going to be thinking what you could be catching something from a beautifully made toy from the UK????” (*15)
They do, however, look carefully at any item submitted before sending it overseas. This approach is perhaps indicative of microvolunteering sites’ perspectives. And in light of the home environment where these micro-actions are being conducted, is this nonsense or common sense? There is simply not enough room to discuss the issues surrounding red tape policies in this article. But from the very circumstantial evidence I have gleaned from the microvolunteering world, it seems that initiatives are falling on the common sense side of the fence rather than going down an excessive red tape route.
What evidence is there that volunteers once recruited and performing microvolunteering tasks can be retained? The Extraordinaries found that even though they recruited thousands of people to volunteer via their iPhone app, these volunteers trailed off after just four weeks of involvement. In Jacob Colker’s words,
“Like any website, there’s a natural churn of users after a while. In the past, with image tagging for example, there’s only so much image tagging one person is willing to do before they get bored”. (*16)
In the hopes of retaining volunteer loyalty, other initiatives appear to be developing new models to keep their volunteer base well stocked. Organisations like Cofacio (now defunct) and Care2 use incentives in the form of earned points for every task completed, which can then be converted into charity donations paid for by kind sponsors or by ad generated revenue. Charity Champs, encourages philanthropy by making it fun and social to “do good” online at various partner charity sites. Good actions are rewarded with points that can be “cashed in” to develop attributes of an avatar hero character, which can be shared over social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
These are still early days for these types of incentivised opportunity initiatives, so I think it’s fair to say that the jury is still out on this issue.
Jayne Cravens, co-author of The Virtual Volunteering Guidebook, casts a different light on the subject:
“When I was directing the Virtual Volunteering Project, I noticed that organizations that didn’t require online volunteers to fill out an application or to go through an orientation ended up with a huge number of volunteer dropouts – volunteers who never completed the assignment. They had more dropouts than they had completed assignments. By contrast, organizations that stuck to the traditional application and orientation process – even if delivered entirely online, and ultimately taking less than an hour on the new volunteers’ part – had much fewer dropouts, which meant the volunteer manager spent much less time trying to figure out what was happening with volunteers and projects. It also increased the number of volunteers who came back for another assignment, and were happy to take on longer-term assignments. That time spent at the beginning saves huge amounts of time later.
I have always strongly encouraged organizations to reduce online assignments down to their smallest possible components, but never to abandon the tried and true principles of volunteer management in recruiting and supporting volunteers that engage in those byte-sized assignments.” (*17)
More research is needed to determine how much retention of volunteers exists within the microvolunteering arena. Certainly, from the very circumstantial evidence I’ve seen, there doesn’t appear to be a problem. But that could be for many reasons, one of which may be that there are so many fish in the pool, so to speak, that if one swims away, there are plenty more to net!
Further Questions in Brief
In the various blogs and articles discussing microvolunteering, there seems to be a common theme that there are areas within this arena that need refining. To provide a flavour of these concerns I quote directly from Randy Tyler, who has pioneered online volunteering program development since 1998. He posed the following questions in his blog (*18) as a starting point for further dialog and kindly gave permission for me to share them here:
- With limited resources, how will a non-profit manage (e.g., screen, co-ordinate, appropriately assign, supervise, document and evaluate) numerous volunteers involved in microvolunteering (such as, 100 volunteers involved in two minute tasks)?
- What motivates individuals to engage in what types of microvolunteering?
- Are there certain types of non-profit organizations (based on such variables as mission, structure, size, geographic area, resources and/or budget) that are best suited for microvolunteering (meaning microvolunteering efforts will result in the most impact, however that may be defined, for the non-profit)?
- Are there specific types of tasks with certain types of non-profit organizations which attract specific microvolunteers?
- Continuous recruiting is a significant resource drain. What methods and strategies will assist in retaining microvolunteers?
- What specific types of devices, using what type of Internet connections, are best for microvolunteering?
- What motivates non-profits to embrace microvolunteering?
Microvolunteering is growing in popularity. This is evidenced by the number of organisations now openly promoting the concept, both non-profit organisations and for-profit businesses, such as telephone company Orange UK’s Do Some Good mobile app project (now defunct – June, 2014). This growing popularity also represents a challenge to the voluntary sector in how to manage best practices with regard to screening, risk assessments and health and safety issues.
With computers and smartphones becoming all pervasive, I believe that this is only the beginning of the ways initiatives will invent to engage and retain volunteers in micro-tasking. However, if a positive effect isn’t generated, there is a danger that volunteers and volunteer-involving organisations will loose interest.
With all that said and done, there are still many quandaries and questions to be ironed out concerning the ‘quickie’ actions that the microvolunteering arena is delivering. One thing that I hope I have conveyed in this article is that this type of volunteering is a prime candidate for further research and study. A healthy and constructive debate wouldn’t go amiss as well.
Only time will tell if micro-volunteering is here to stay or not. I believe it is.
Article first published in E-volunteerism November, 2010 edition and updated as of November, 2011
*1 See http://jointvolunteering.co.il/blog/?p=321 — you’ll need a Hebrew translator.
*2 Quoted in an Everyone Ready® online volunteer management seminar, Energize, Inc., September 2010, referencing microvolunteering as a new trend. Comments culled from Web research, including an article about the Extraordinaries here
*4 The Virtual Volunteering Guidebook: Applying the Principles of Real-World Volunteer Management to Online Service by Susan J. Ellis and Jayne Cravens is available for free download at http://www.energizeinc.com/download/vvguide.pdf. A revised edition is expected in 2011.
*6 Sparked.com started to claim they were the first, in November 2010. Presumably, they were unaware of Microvoluntarios at the time.
*7 Quote from a private e-mail exchange between author and Jacob Colker, Co-Founder and CEO, The Extraordinaries, October, 2010. Note: They were presumably unaware of Microvoluntarios at the time.
*8 Give Work site, http://samasource.org/company/press/new-iphone-application-provides-microwork-to-refugees/
*9 “Number of Cell Phones Worldwide Hits 4.6B,” CBS News, Business site, February 15, 2010, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/02/15/business/main6209772.shtml
*10 Quote from a private e-mail exchange between author and Susan J. Ellis, September 2010.
*12 Allison Fine, social media blogger, http://www.allisonfine.com/
*13 Rob Jackson, former Director of Development & Innovation at Volunteering England.
*14 Although online petitions and click-to-donate sites could be abused if not set up correctly. For instance, someone could initiate a macro to continually click a ‘Donate’ button without interference from the user. These sites rely on people truly clicking an advert, so that advertisers are potentially receiving genuine customers. A macro would completely defeat the object of the Web site’s purpose, which is why many limit you to clicking on the ‘Donate’ button just once a day.
*15 Quote from a private e-mail exchange between author and Lou Jaap, founder of Loving Hands, September 2010.
*16 Colker e-mail, op. cit.
*17 Private e-mail exchange between author and Jayne Cravens, Coyote Communications. September 2010. Cravens has written several articles on microvolunteering, particularly see: http://www.coyotecommunications.com/volunteer/microvolunteering.shtml.
*18 “Micro Volunteering – Untapped Potential with Some Apparent Wrinkles to Work Out” by Randy Tyler, blog posting, September 24, 2010, via Net Squared http://www.netsquared.org/blog/randy-tyler/micro-volunteering-untapped-potential-so-1#.UkaKWz-1sX4