What Makes A Good Microvolunteering Action
If you’re a charity / non-profit and you’re thinking of creating a microvolunteering action to attract more professional volunteers, then what should you be considering to make your action stand out from the crowd. Here’s a few pointers to hopefully inspire you.
- one of the main qualities of a micro-action is it’s flexibility. Professional workers have slack periods and lunchbreaks, so consider designing an action that can be picked up on an ad-hoc basis eg. FreeRice
- for maximum mobility, consider an action that can be participated on a smartphone. That’s not an easy or cheap thing to do, but Orange have managed it via their mobile app
- keep the action time down to a minimum. Some micro-actions can be completed in under 10 seconds, eg Care2
- can the action be designed around individual participation rather than a group basis. Individuals avoid the lengthy discussion syndrome trying to arrange a time when it’s convenient for everybody to participate, eg Distributed Proofreading
- avoid red tape issues. Postpals enables people to write cheery letters to very sick children in the hopes it will brighten up their day. There is an obvious issue around a child’s address passing into the wrong hands. The problem was overcome by having mail addressed to a third party and then being screened by friends or family before being passed on to the child
- people like to know what impact they’ve made and if possible how it affects worthy causes ‘on the ground’. Some platforms use a monetary value indicator eg. Barclays SkillsBank which really means very little to lay people as the spending power of money can be so different from country to country. Instead consider a league table like Yahoo Answers – Community Service or an upfront tally of the quantity of actions completed eg. Project Linus which displays a running total of the number of blankets made that are used to comfort sick or traumatized children
- keep the instructions simple as 1…2…3. This is microvolunteering, so people will only be volunteering in bite sized chunks of time. They want a quickie ‘fix’ to know that they’ve done something good, so instructions that are easy and quick to follow are the order of the day eg. GridRepublic
- not every volunteer is comfortable in raising money for charity if they have to ask (beg) or recruit their work colleagues to contribute a donation. Better to have an action that involves utilizing people’s skills or for maximum participation, no skills at all, apart from life skills eg EveryClick
- do you need people to register to participate in an action? Those that are just ‘click and go’ will have the greatest participation rate. Describe Me (picture tagging to assist the visually impaired) covers all bases by enabling participants to either register, so they can record their impact in a league table or just dive in with no registration required and perform the same action as if they were logged in.
- the more unusual the action, the more word of mouth promotion you’re going to get. Here’s a few examples: Field Expedition Mongolia (searching for Genghis Khan’s tomb) and Ancient Lives (transcribing Greek papyri fragments). None of these actions require any special skill or training to participate and all can be completed online, within 10 minutes!!
- promote it as all inclusive for disabled people as well. Microvolunteering has a huge advantage over traditional volunteering opportunities like a river or woodland cleanup in that it can be participated in by people from, for example, their armchair, wheelchair or hospital bed, at a pace that suits the participant, eg AccessAdvisr
- use the angle of what personal development and work based skills can be gained. You’d be surprised by what you can develop via a series of 5 minute actions. Refer to Help From Home’s Personal Development benefits page.
- microvolunteering can be dipped in and out on demand, so promote it as an activity that can be participated during workers’ lunch breaks, on the bus / train ride home or even in bed after a hard days work.
- from an employers point of view, microvolunteering by employees could earn them valuable CSR ‘brownie points’, even outside of work hours. Even in work, microvolunteering has the edge on promotion, as it enables an employee to stay at their desk, thus minimizing disruption to their workflow. All useful points in angling a promotion strategy. Consider Help From Home’s list of benefits of employee microvolunteering from an employer’s point of view
Article commissioned by Ecclesiastical Insurance for a Guide on Volunteering to be published in 2013