Micro-Volunteers: A Quantum of Charity

Volunteers are the lifeblood of charity in your community. They work behind the scenes in food banks, shelters and advocacy offices. Though their efforts are often unsung, they are almost universally respected and admired.

Unfortunately, traditional volunteer work requires a commitment of time and energy that many people simply cannot justify on top of full-time jobs and family life. Volunteer-driven organizations report a very high turnover rate as a result. According to a study conducted by the U.S. government in 2007, charities and non-profits experience a 34 per cent annual churn rate in their volunteer staff. In other words, a new volunteer worker has a better than one in three chance of walking away from service before the end of their first year.

This is understandable. People want to help. Yet they simply do not have the time and energy to do so on top of their daily obligations. But what if you could help your community every day, without committing to a specific cause and specific hours? What if you could make a contribution from the comfort of your own home, or even your own armchair?

Micro-volunteering is a new concept in charity work, one that has been embraced by a number of charities, old and new. It describes a system whereby a volunteer offers a small amount of time to benefit a charity or non-profit. This time can be invested online or offline.

For example:

The essential belief behind micro-volunteering is that, by removing the barrier of an ongoing commitment, charities and non-profits can tap into a vast resource of would-be helpers who have the will to help, but not the time.

Micro-Volunteers and ClubRunner

Your club can make use of the micro-volunteer concept in a number of ways, thanks to the Volunteers module introduced with ClubRunner Version 3.0. The Volunteers module allows you to identify volunteer tasks, create sign-up sheets, and manage the efforts of your volunteers. Your club can easily adapt this system to suit the micro-volunteer model by brainstorming micro-volunteer activities members can undertake in support of the club. Simply create a micro-volunteering event for a given period and use the Volunteer module to assign and track the tasks you’ve come up with.
For example, the club might maintain a calling list of inactive members who can’t make it to meetings due to ill health or age. Every week, club members could volunteer to make a ten minute phone call or visit to these inactive members to pass on club news. The calls and visits would serve the double function of keeping the inactive members connected to the club and help ensure that all their needs are being met.
Your club can also look outward and identify micro-volunteer opportunities in your community or beyond. Ask members to spend a few minutes a day on a given micro-volunteer cause, such as the ones identified above. You can use the Volunteers module to create a micro-volunteer signup sheet and then create micro-volunteer tasks.
If you want a closer local connection, talk to charities and non-profits in your own community. Find out what needs they have that might be filled by a micro-volunteer effort. Offer to set up volunteer sign-up sheets for those tasks and encourage club members to undertake them.
Your club could even serve as a sort of central sorting house for volunteer efforts in your community by making your volunteer sign-up sheets publicly accessible. For example, the club could spearhead a town clean-up day, when volunteers commit ten minutes to pick up trash either across the community or in a specific park or neighborhood. No ongoing commitment or training is needed, and the sign-up sheet can be open to everyone.
As an added benefit, this practice would increase the visibility of your club in the community, reaping benefits in the form of a greater membership and public good will.

Finding Opportunities

Websites have appeared to help connect micro-volunteers with charities in need. If you're looking for a way for your club to connect with micro-volunteers, or looking for a way to volunteer yourself, check them out:
While micro-volunteers won't replace the dedicated full-time volunteers who work behind the scenes at every charity, they can certainly make their lives easier. And, more importantly, they help improve the lives of people around the world.

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