A Question of Time

We had a short conversation at Volunteer Victoria the other day. One might even say it was a micro moment. The discussion was inspired by two youth focused events scheduled just a couple of weeks apart. Both offer tremendous value and engagement potential but with significant program design differences.

The first included 150 residents from the University of Victoria who participated in a day of caring at local non-profit organizations on March 16th. The youth reviewed the list of causes, picked their favourite cause and activity, and donated several hours of time in supervised and mentored environments.

The second event is scheduled for Friday April 5th. United Now’s Volunteering with Benefits Gala has blossomed into a ‘must-do’ event for 20-30 something year olds who are emerging as working professionals and new philanthropists. (Visit www.uwgv.ca for more information or to buy tickets.) Attendees trade volunteer time in lieu of money for wonderful items donated by local businesses. Volunteer opportunities include one-time and long-term activities (you might say traditional volunteering positions) and micro-volunteering options (those that last from a minute to under an hour.)

Micro volunteering emerged in 2006 and has grown quickly as a viable option for busy volunteers – especially individuals who are comfortable working independently and in a virtual environment.

Now, the results of study of more than 13,000 micro-volunteer in England may help organizations better understand the differences between micro and traditional volunteering opportunities, and how they can build and enhance micro-volunteering programs. Here are a few highlights:

Micro volunteering differs in relation to wider forms of volunteering, both in terms of its function and people’s motivations. Rather than being motivated by altruism or self-gain, it could be said that the central factors driving participation are the opportunity to fill some spare time and the convenience of the activity
83% would recommend micro-volunteering to friends and family
94% plan to use a micro-volunteering App in the future
8% indicated that they completed an action to give back to my community/help the environment
0% stated that they completed an action to learn or improve a skill
the most common reason for completing the action was the ease and speed of volunteering (30%), followed by the range of activities to do (24%) and having a little spare time (21%).
Most participants perceived wider volunteering as providing a valuable role which micro volunteering is unable to fulfill. It could be said that micro volunteering will complement other forms of engagement, constituting a mix of styles that can be selected depending on their function and the context.


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