What Is Micro Volunteering - Examples, Opportunities & How To Do It Well

What Is micro volunteering? A guide to micro-volunteering, examples, opportunities and how your charity benefit from microvolunteering

What Is Micro Volunteering - Charity Examples And Opportunities

Micro volunteering is short tasks that don't necessarily require any ongoing commitment.  Micro-volunteering offers volunteers the opportunity to under-take bite size activities, in a way that also works for the cause they support. Using microvolunteering can be an excellent opportunity to recruit new volunteers, including for fundraising and digital.

What is Micro Volunteering?

Micro volunteering is short tasks that don't necessarily require any ongoing commitment.   Sometimes called home or virtual volunteering, micro volunteering is any activity that can be undertaken for short periods and, if it's online, from anywhere, often from home.

What are the Benefits of Microvolunteering?

Microvolunteering has numerous benefits.  It enables charities to create volunteering opportunities that engage people in your cause, who may otherwise not have the time.  It can get lots done quickly and efficiently, and can save charities time and money.

With jobs and family commitments, lack of time can be a real barrier to volunteering and this is a simple way to encourage more to volunteer.  Micro volunteering can be used by any charity and it:

  • Enables you to increase volunteering capacity and access skills and experience that you might otherwise have been unable to.
  • Allows you to recruit volunteers from anywhere in the country, not just locally.
  • Can be used to reach groups who may otherwise be excluded, such as older people or the disabled, if housebound.
  • Often doesn’t require an application process or training.
  • Can be a good way to bring people initially on board and then grow their engagement and commitment to play a greater role in your work.

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Micro Volunteering Examples

Here are some examples of micro volunteering opportunities:

  • Growing your social media follow by having 'Digital Champions' who follow your social media platforms, like, share and engage with people to help you create an active online community.  It takes almost no time at all and anyone can do it.
  • Draft funding bids, case studies, web content, social media posts or newsletter articles.
  • E-mentoring – our people are our greatest asset, but we don’t invest in them enough and this is a really easy way to do so.

But these don't have to be online, or on an ongoing basis:

  • Help run events or man a stall.
  • Give talks to local organisations, to promote your work.
  • Undertake a personal fundraiser, rattle a collection tin, sell raffle tickets or distribute collection tins to local shops.

Professionals, particularly those with young families, may really like you, but simply be too busy to give you the time, so micro-volunteering can be perfect for them. Opportunities might range from:

  • Providing expert input/review for plans, strategies, policies, proposals, or pitches.
  • For those who are professionally qualified, ad hoc advice on a range of issues, such as fundraising, legal, HR and digital.
  • Or perhaps using their networks and contacts to direct you to people who can help you with a particular issue, or;
  • Opening doors that might otherwise remain closed.

For lots more examples of micro volunteering ideas read this and for ideas on keeping volunteers engaged, read Sarah Swaysland's blog.

Micro Volunteering Management

Micro volunteering is often about offering quick, convenient tasks, but you still have to provide an appropriate level of direction and support.  It's not always possible, but try to avoid the sometimes significant admin that you may require for long-term volunteers.  A good way to do this is to provide simple, clear instructions for each task.

Micro volunteers usually work online for short periods, so it can be difficult for them to see that they're making an impact and that's important to them.  Also, they may have very little interaction with the charity's staff and other volunteers, which can lead to them feeling somewhat isolated form the charity and its work.  Think about how to encourage communication and feedback.  For example, by creating a volunteering Facebook group to keep them up-to-date and engaged, or even have micro volunteering meet ups online.

Micro Volunteering Agreement

Micro volunteers are in many ways no different to your other volunteers, but you may have a lot less contact with them and their task are different.  Obviously, any agreement will depend on the individual role, but here are some ideas below that you can use from ChatGPT.

  1. Task Completion: Engaging in small, time-limited tasks or projects assigned by the charity. These tasks could include data entry, research, social media management, content creation, graphic design, or any other skill-based activities that can be done remotely.
  2. Time Commitment: Allocating a specific amount of time each week or month to work on assigned tasks. Micro volunteering often involves short-term commitments, allowing you to contribute within your available time constraints.
  3. Communication: Maintaining effective communication with the charity's coordinator or supervisor. This includes promptly responding to emails, attending virtual meetings or check-ins, and seeking clarification or guidance when needed.
  4. Quality and Timeliness: Delivering high-quality work and completing assigned tasks within agreed-upon deadlines. Even though micro volunteering may involve small tasks, it's important to ensure that your contributions meet the charity's standards.
  5. Collaboration: Collaborating with other micro volunteers or team members on shared projects or tasks. This may involve sharing insights, ideas, or feedback, as well as coordinating efforts to achieve common goals.
  6. Feedback and Reporting: Providing feedback on your volunteering experience or suggesting improvements to streamline processes. Additionally, reporting your completed tasks or progress to the charity's coordinator or supervisor, ensuring transparency and accountability.
  7. Promotion and Support: Sharing information about the charity's mission, projects, or campaigns on your personal social media channels or within your network. Actively promoting the charity's work and events can help raise awareness and support.
  8. Learning and Development: Taking advantage of opportunities for personal growth and skill development. Engaging in micro volunteering can allow you to enhance existing skills or learn new ones, benefiting both the charity and your own professional development.
  9. Ethical Conduct: Adhering to the charity's code of conduct, maintaining confidentiality when required, and respecting the organization's policies, values, and guidelines.
  10. Flexibility: Being adaptable and open to taking on different tasks or adjusting your workload based on the charity's needs and priorities. Micro volunteering often involves a degree of flexibility as tasks may vary depending on the current projects or campaigns.

Charity Volunteering Guide

free volunteering guide from our friends at Access NFP which shows how you can refine your recruitment practices and attract more volunteers now, and far into the future; including initial strategy, application form recommendations, compliance and more.

With a foreword from Ben Hughes, a specialist in volunteer management for over a decade for charities such as Make-A-Wish UK and Barnardo’s, this guide is full of helpful information to enhance your volunteer experience. 

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Volunteer Policy and Agreement FAQs

  • What is the purpose of a volunteer policy?  A volunteering policy helps to manage their volunteers by detailing how a charity will recruit, retain, motivate and provide recognition for its volunteers, the various roles and administrative issues such as dress, expenses and training.
  • Do we need to have a volunteer policy?  There is no legal or regulatory requirement to have a volunteering policy but it helps to ensure volunteers are managed and supported well and minimises the risk of things going wrong and problems arising.
  • What is the role of a volunteer?  Volunteers are under no obligation to work on behalf of a charity but, if they wish to do so, they must comply with relevant charity policies, undertake any necessary training, turn up for activities they have agreed to support and carry out their work to the best of their abilities.
  • What is a volunteer management strategy?  A volunteer strategy is a longer-term plan for what a charity wishes to achieve through volunteering and how that will contribute to its overall strategic aims, and includes its objectives in doing so, such as how it will find, recruit, motivate, retain and manage its volunteers.
  • Do we need a volunteering agreement?  Volunteer agreements help to make volunteering enjoyable and successful for everyone by helping charities and volunteers know what to expect from each other and remind charities to offer a good volunteer experience.
  • How do I create a volunteer agreement? Agreements set out: what a charity will offer its volunteers and should include that the agreement is not a legally binding contract between the charity and the volunteer, and that neither intends any employment or other worker relationship to be created.  It will include other issues, such as responsibilities, confidentiality, expenses, training and policies to be aware of and comply with.
  • What is micro volunteering? Micro volunteering is short tasks that don't necessarily require any ongoing commitment.  It can get lots done quickly and efficiently, and can save charities time and money and offers volunteers the opportunity to under-take bite size activities, in a way that also works for the cause they support.
  • What is a volunteer code of ethics? A volunteering code of ethics, often referred to as a code of conduct, sets out the standards and behaviours for volunteers in working together and with others to enable them to do so effectively and in an ethical and respectful way.  It does not detail responsibilities or legal obligations.
  • Can volunteers be paid expenses?  Volunteers aren’t paid for their time but should be paid for any out-of-pocket expenses. These expenses could include travel, postage and telephone costs if working from home and essential equipment, such as protective clothing.  Volunteers should provide receipts for any expenses they incur.
  • Do volunteers need insurance?  Even if your charity doesn’t employ staff, you may still decide to take out employers’ liability cover for volunteers.  Check whether your insurance policy includes volunteers, covers the activities volunteers will be doing and states any age limits for volunteers.
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