Micro Volunteering - What is it and how to implement it?

It’s no surprise that during a period with three national lockdowns, people across the UK not only had more free time to spare, but a much greater sense of community and enthusiasm to help those in need.

It’s been a remarkable year for the volunteering sector. 21% of people formally volunteered across England at the beginning of the Pandemic, and a whopping 47% of people volunteered informally. 52% of which were helping people affected by Covid-19. With such an immense amount of support and kindness, the big question is as to whether or not this level of volunteer productivity will continue after the easing of Covid restrictions?

We have recently been speaking to a number of our most active volunteers to find out their motivations behind volunteering and a majority expressed that the Pandemic played a big part in their journey. Steph, who has been working with Age UK Northampton since the beginning of the very first lockdown told how she hopes to continue with her weekly befriending:

“ I like keeping my volunteering regular so that the people I befriend know that in the future I'll be calling and will be there for them. With things opening again, it could become a bit overwhelming”.

As we are sure many other volunteers have the same concerns, we delve into the concept of micro-volunteering. Could this be the solution for those who are keen to help out within their local communities but are short on time?

What Is It?

In short, Micro-Volunteering is the idea that people are much more likely to volunteer in short, convenient blocks of time and meet a combination of eight characteristics:

  • small amounts of time
  • easy to access
  • Immediate
  • convenient
  • task rather than role orientated
  • informal agreement
  • can take place online or offline
  • can be a one-off or more regular

The most important element being that volunteers hold more control over their volunteering activities and tasks.

The Future Of Micro-Volunteering

As the volunteer sector adapts to new processes such as the rise of virtual volunteering and digital transformation in a post Pandemic society, Micro-Volunteering is likely to become an important factor in volunteer retention and engagement. Research from the NVCO shows that Micro-Volunteering is likely to be a big part of future practice as those organisations who have already implemented it have “largely benefitted from doing so”. Although there can be risks involved. The NVCO also concluded that it can be riskier for those organisations who have a longer term volunteer focus as they may hold less control.

How to implement Micro-Volunteering

To be able to make micro volunteering a reality, we believe that some degree of digitalisation is needed. If you have one small task and spend an hour finding the right volunteer to complete that task, Micro volunteering simply is not sustainable. We believe a proactive volunteer model like the one we foster at Volunteero is necessary. We allow these micro volunteering tasks, or what we call missions, to be created in seconds. These can then be published only to the relevant groups of volunteers and then volunteers can use our app to find and claim missions that best suit them. Here is how Josie who is a volunteer coordinator at VODA North Tyneside explains “I put a mission on and while normally I would be contacting loads of volunteers, now I move on to the next mission and check every now and then if a volunteer has requested to join the mission”

Digitalisation will also aid in risk management. Charities need to have a clearer picture or what volunteers are doing and procedures and processes around allowing only qualified volunteers to conduct certain tasks. This is another area where Volunteero can help. We are able to track all volunteering activity in realtime and using our groups feature among others, charities can present tasks to only certain groups of volunteers.

If you would like to learn more about Volunteero, please book a demo.

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