Microvolunteering: Benefits to Individuals | Help from Home

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Microvolunteering: Benefits to Individuals

For the uninitiated, microvolunteering can be described as easy, no (or low) commitment actions that benefit worthy causes, and which can be conducted in under 30 minutes.  Individuals from all over the world are finding this style of volunteering very appealing – hence the buzz that has surrounded it for the past couple of years.  Microvolunteering can encompass different forms of actions: skilled, semi-skilled and non-skilled.  For the purposes of this article, I’ll be concentrating on the skilled / semi-skilled type of actions and demonstrating from an individual’s perspective the numerous benefits of actually microvolunteering.

So, what’s in it for individuals to microvolunteer?  Well, how long have you got?

Variety of Actions

Because microvolunteering can be completed in such a short space of time, you need to have a different mindset as to what can therefore be accomplished.  Take for instance the following examples, which should give you a brief idea of what’s available for you to participate in.

- Computer/IT Skills/Data Entry: Examples include Ancient Tree Hunt (mapping trees) and Herberia@home (document herbarium collections).

- Mobile App Skills: Examples include Do Some Good (various 5 minutes actions), LoveCleanStreets (report social environmental problems) and History Pin (capture moments of history).

- Research / Observation: Examples include Fruit City (locate fruit trees/bushes in public spaces), Snail Search (search for snails in your back garden) and Face Research (discovering attractiveness experiment)

- Miscellaneous skills could include: Photography (Photo Foundation), Writing (Post Pals), Transcription  (Ancient Lives) and Ementoring (Cybermentors).

Gaining Employability Skills

Help From Home will soon be releasing a project that will help an individual gain and develop employability skills via skilled microvolunteering actions, whether you’re in work looking to improve your skills or out of work looking to gain some skills.  So, how could microvolunteering benefit you as an individual in relation to employable skills?

- It keeps you “active” in the eyes of potential employers and gives you something to do whilst looking for paid employment.

- You can utilise your current skill set and improve your transferable skills.

-You are able to fill in any gaps in your CV via the experience you gain through microvolunteering

- You could be demonstrating to potential employers that you are keeping yourself busy whilst using and improving your skills.

- You will be gaining a ‘feel good’ factor, as you’ll be benefiting many worthy causes, whilst also helping yourself out at the same time. Employers could potentially look favourably upon this altruistic attitude.

- You can document your actions via screenshots and thus create a portfolio of your skill based micro-activities

- Actions can be participated on the go, on demand and on your own terms. This allows you to easily build up your work experience whenever and for however long you wish to do so – where else can you do this?

- If you have no work experience at all, microvolunteering will allow you to add more to your CV and potentially increase your chances of finding work.

What Impact Can You Achieve

It might seem odd that you can create impact from an action that might only last 10 minutes, but if you collate your actions with hundreds and thousands of others, what might seem insignificant to you all of a sudden achieves huge impact in the overall scheme of things.  Help From Home has produced a document Microvolunteering: Evidence of Impact that features over 130 initiatives that are creating impact from actions that last no more than 30 minutes.  It’s quite amazing what a 30 minute contribution from you can achieve.  Here’s a small sample below of the impact, initiatives are achieving:

- Galaxy Zoo (armchair astronomy) up to August 2012 over 250,000 people participating and over 60,000 galaxy classification recorded.

- The Work For You (time stamping parliament speeches) up to August 2012, 139,667 video parliament speeches matched with text.

- Photo Foundation (publically sourced photos by Smartphone) up to August 2012, 8160 images displayed online which were taken by Smartphone users for free use by non profits.

- Distributed Proofreaders (proof reading individual pages of books) up to August 2012, 23,364 public domain books proofed and converted to eBooks for future generations to read.

Gaining Personal Development Skills

Personal development takes on many guises and is different for different people at their various stages of life.  It includes activities like improving awareness, developing talents, potential to build human capital, facilitating employability, enhancing the quality of life and has the ability to contribute to the realisation of dreams and aspirations.  Microvolunteering can add to this process and listed below are various actions, categorised under separate personal development skills that can help you to enrich your life skills.

- Writing skills (associated with improving composition style): Example - Post Pals (sending cheery emails or letters to sick children).

- Memory (associated with improving spatial memory and concentration): Example - People’s Collection Wales (recording Welsh heritage)

- Communication (associated with improving interpersonal or people skills): Example - English Out There (improving spoken English)

We’ve expanded on this a lot more in another article, which if you are interested, you can read here.

Location, Location, Location

Most skilled microvolunteering actions take place online.  What with Wi-Fi hotspots springing up all over the place, it means you can potentially microvolunteer on the number 69 bus, the doctors waiting room or the supermarket checkout queue, to name but a few locations.  What does that mean to you as an individual?  No longer are you restricted to having to attend a volunteering event at a certain time and day.  With microvolunteering, the action comes to you, where literally you can microvolunteer on the go, on demand and on your terms.  So using the location examples above, you can microvolunteer.

- On the number 69 bus, where you could be helping to solve the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster via Nessie on the Net

- In the supermarket checkout queue, where you could be answering questions on your daily wellbeing that could contribute to a better understanding of how people’s feeling are affected by features of their current environment via Mappiness

- In the doctor’s waiting room where, you could be answering psychology related questionnaires that contribute to the field of psychology general via Social Psychology Studies

Of course, this is just a small sample of where you can microvolunteer.  Help From Home has a few ongoing projects that promote microvolunteering in schools, work places, senior citizen environments, on holiday, oh ……. and I nearly forgot, within your own home as well.

Are you Disabled?

A lot of traditional volunteering actions are only suitable for able bodies people – a river clean up for instance for a wheelchair bound person would seemingly appear to be out of the question.  Microvolunteering breaks down these barriers and is all inclusive for a huge range of impairments.  Disabled people can now feel empowered to give back to society in ways which are not possible via traditional volunteering.  If you’re disabled and you feel you want to help out fellow disabled people, check out:

- Access Advisr: maps areas of concern about accessibility issues to publicly accessible buildings or transport.

- Fix the Web: Disabled people report web accessibility problems, which then get raised with the relevant website owners.

Clothing

Bet you hadn’t thought of that one?  Microvolunteering actions do not need any special clothing to participate in them.  So, out with the fluorescent over jackets, protective glasses or wellington boots and in with jeans / t-shirts, pyjamas or even your birthday suit!

Microvolunteering Parties

Microvolunteering is normally carried out on an individual basis, but it doesn’t have to be.  You can achieve a lot more impact and a whole lot more fun, if you can gather a few friends together for a Microvolunteering Party.  Of course, that takes a bit of organising to do, but fear not as Help From Home has already done most of the donkey work for you.  Visit our Microvolunteering Party webpage for more details to add even more fun to those spare moments in your life.

Time

If you’ve had the time to read down this far, then bravo!  In fact, in the time that it’s taken you to read down to here you could have made some impact via a microvolunteering action.  And, that’s the beauty of microvolunteering, because you can:

- Squeeze in the odd few moments in between your traditional volunteering activities.

- Participate in actions whilst you’re boiling the kettle.

- Microvolunteer whilst having a sandwich in your lunch break.

…. and that’s just a few examples before I bore you to death.  Have a look at the following fact and tell me it doesn’t make you ponder that you could be doing more with your time.

The average life span of a human being is 35,320,320 minutes, wheras the average microvolunteering action lasts just 10 minutes.  Could you give up 10 of these 35,320,320 minutes to benefit a worthy cause?  Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Conclusion

So, how about it?  Does microvolunteering seem tempting to you?  Give it a go and see if you can change the world in those spare moments of your life that you didn’t even know you could use to make an impact.  Oh, and while you’re at it, why don’t you improve your life as well - I’ve given you enough reasons to use microvolunteering to do just that.

First published October, 2012