Snapshot Overview of Microvolunteering Participants
From 1st July, 2011 to 31st December, 2011 Help From Home asked a series of 25 questions to actual microvolunteers themselves to discover their modus operandi / raison d’etre for participating in microvolunteering actions. In all, 42 respondents were obtained, a low figure by anybodys standards, but some very interesting trends were noticed. The full survey document can be downloaded here, whilst a summary of it’s findings are detailed below.
This survey compliments a previous survey that was carried out by Help From Home into actual microvolunteering initiatives themselves. This survey can be downloaded here.
The time span that most people closely associated with microvolunteering, was any action that could be completed in under 15 minutes, whilst those actions that took upto 2 hours to finish were 7 times less likely to be described as a microvolunteering action.
The definition that was picked out as the one most closely resembling a microvolunteering action was the one used by Help From Home, ie. ‘easy, quick low commitment actions that benefit a worthy cause’. Of the 3 definitions in wide use by microvolunteering networks, the one adopted by Sparked.com was considered the least descriptive, ie. ‘convenient, bite sized, crowdsourced and networked’.
Reasons and How Often
The main reasons why people microvolunteered were stated as being easy, quick, no training involved, no special skills required, it could be done anywhere and be fitted within a person’s busy lifestyle.
How often do people microvolunteer? Well, every few days according to the survey, whilst the second most popular time span was once a week.
Future Participation, Impact and How They Volunteered
Microvolunteering has been touted in some quarters as just a phase, but this survey suggests that the vast majority of people (just under 93%) considered themselves either quite likely or very likely to be microvolunteering in a years time.
The most popular type of impact that people felt they had made with microvolunteering was considered to be ‘helping the needy’, closely followed by ‘raising money for worthy causes’ and ‘empowering people’.
Just under 83% of respondents microvolunteered via a computer and just under 67% stated that they performed these actions at home.
Traditional vs Microvolunteering
With regards to the relationship between traditional volunteering and microvolunteering, 57% of respondents stated that they were involved in both types of volunteering, whilst 14% were inspired to become microvolunteers via traditional volunteering.
When it came to deciding whether microvolunteering either complimented traditional volunteering or was a stand-alone form of volunteering, just under 59% felt that it complimented traditional volunteering whilst 22% felt it was a stand-alone type.
Positives and Negatives
So what were the positive aspects that respondents liked about microvolunteering? The top answers were, ‘it was easy to do’, ‘didn’t cost a penny to participate’, ‘the opportunities came to the volunteer, rather than the volunteer going to the opportunity’ and ‘it could be fitted in within a busy schedule’.
On the negative aspects of microvolunteering, 33% of respondents stated that there were none, whilst the next most rated statements at 13% each were, ‘that it didn’t feel like volunteering’ and ‘that there was no human or animal interaction’.
Would respondents recommend microvolunteering to their friends and family? 76% said yes and 21% said maybe.
Demographically speaking, just under 74% of respondents were aged under 29 and the female to male ratio was 4 to 1.
Home based volunteering represents a huge untapped market of potential volunteers and it would seem, albeit from the small sample of returned surveys that people seem to be genuinely interested in this format of volunteering.
There could be a suggestion here that nonprofits need to be looking at this type of volunteering to attract more people to help out with their causes. Microvolunteering, as a label, appears to be an attractive proposition to volunteers, as it conveys ease of participation, no commitment and accommodates people’s lifestyles without impacting into their perceived busy schedules.
Currently, not enough is being done to encourage nonprofits to create microvolunteering opportunities themselves and this perhaps is an area which the voluntary sector may need to consider, if it wishes to recruit the under 30 generation, which from this survey appeared to be the age range that attracted most participants in microvolunteering.
In closing then, the survey did highlight some very interesting trends, practically all of them being positive. It also perhaps demonstrated the urgent need for a larger research organisation with greater access to volunteers and funding, to continue where this survey left off, if only to discover whether the positive trends from this survey are genuine or just a quirk from such a small number of respondents.
The full survey document can be downloaded here