How Many Ways Are There To Encourage People To Microvolunteer?
… Help from Home takes Microvolunteering to places hard to imagine for volunteering and with tasks that take as little as two minutes!
Microvolunteering can be described as easy, no commitment actions that benefit worthy causes, and which can be completed within 30 minutes, on the go, on demand and on a person’s own terms.
Help From Home has been encouraging people to microvolunteer since December, 2008 – almost virtually when the modern era of microvolunteering started. At that time, we came up with a tagline of ‘Change the world in just your pyjamas’, because we thought microvolunteering was more likely to be participated in from a person’s own home.
Six years on, and microvolunteering from home is most definitely not the norm these days. A year after we started, we began to think as to whether it could help senior citizens within care homes build up their self worth and esteem. So we set up our Help From Seniors project. This departure from home based microvolunteering led us on to investigating whether we could get people to microvolunteer within their work environment, perhaps during their lunch break. As actions could be completed within 30 minutes, where most of them actually only lasted about 10 minutes, it was a not an unreasonable assumption that people could do some good whilst tucking into their sandwich. Our Help From Work scheme was as a direct result of our findings.
But why stop there, we thought. How about schools and teaching students responsible citizenship via microvolunteering actions that could actually be conducted in real time, without them leaving their classroom. Thus sprung our Help From School initiative. From there, we moved swiftly on to taking advantage of the fact that people were increasingly taking their smartphones and tablets on holiday. So we developed a project to encourage people to microvolunteer on the beach, or in their hotel rooms whilst on holiday, a scheme we unsurprisingly called Help From Holiday.
Then we went through a bit of a lull, as we searched for other ways to encourage people to microvolunteer. It took us a long time, but we eventually came up with a project to enable people to microvolunteer with friends in a party environment, complete with pulsating music (if they so wished). Check out our Micro Parties, if want to have fun and do-good at the same time!
Further down the line, we were inspired by a volunteer on our books who was looking for work at the time, but spending quite a bit of time at home and not being able to develop any skills that employers would value. So, putting our collective heads together we hit upon the idea of using microvolunteering actions to enable people to develop work based skills from home via our Skills 4 You project, where participants could create ePortfolios of their involvement, for inclusion within a CV.
Two of our more ‘off the wall’ schemes have been very recent ones, probably because at the time we were running out of avenues to inspire people. They involved encouraging people to microvolunteer at weddings (I kid you not) and on planes. Firstly, the wedding idea taps into the growing trend of people forfeiting presents in lieu of donations of gifts or money to charitable causes. Our scheme, called Weddings 4 Good Causes, encourages wedding guests to donate two minutes of their time at the actual wedding, instead of giving presents.
Microvolunteering on a plane is just that! Impossible you’d think. Not so. You can participate with or without a laptop, whilst seated in your oh so spacious comfy plane seat, and as most planes don’t provide internet access at the moment, our project In-Flight Microvolunteering, caters for that scenario as well.
But what of the future? Areas that we’re considering to explore at the moment are prisons, hospitals, community service schemes, and encouraging cities to become the first Microvolunteer Capital of the world. Watch this space!