Microvolunteering: What Is It & How to Do It

Microvolunteering: What Is It & How to Do It

Did you guys know that April 15 is Microvolunteering Day? I didn’t either until recently. If I’m being honest, I didn’t even know that microvolunteering was something that I should know about!

I’ve talked before about ways that you can volunteer, even during a pandemic, but today I’m going to focus a bit more on how we can all microvolunteer (because it’s actually different).

So, let’s talk about microvolunteering.


What IS Microvolunteering, Anyway?

I’m glad you asked! Truthfully, it’s exactly what it sounds like: Microvolunteering means that you volunteer your time in short bursts. Microbursts, if you will.

Microvolunteering means that you volunteer your time in short bursts. Microbursts, if you will.

As it turns out, this isn’t a new phenomenon. In the past, it has been called speed volunteering, virtual volunteering, and micro-actions. The biggest difference now is that it has gained popularity thanks to COVID-19. Now more than ever, people are looking for opportunities to give back in ways that fit their schedules and pandemic-centered lives.

The essence of microvolunteering is being able to break up a large goal, project, or task into a series of bite-sized, easy tasks. You might have heard of “citizen science” projects like Foldit, which allows you to play short sessions of a game that contributes to protein-folding research, or Smoke Sense, which asks citizens to snap photos of smog in their areas. These simple tasks are easy examples of microvolunteering. They take virtually no time, but they contribute important effort towards a common goal.

Reports estimate that about 80 percent of all microvolunteering actions take place online, which makes sense given that people are looking for simple, schedule-friendly ways to volunteer. However, microvolunteering can be done in person, too!


How You Can Get Involved With Microvolunteering

First of all, I think it’s important to mention that microvolunteering isn’t any less important than “regular” volunteering. If you have lots of time and the ability to contribute to longer, more involved volunteer projects, that’s fantastic!

But if your schedule is hectic, you’re a high-risk individual, or you just don’t have the mental energy to devote lots of time to giving back, you shouldn’t feel bad for considering microvolunteering. I think that you should feel great about it because you’re still looking for ways to help others, even though you have limited resources!

With that little soapbox out of the way, let’s talk about how you can get started down the microvolunteering path.

1. Set a time commitment goal

This goal can be flexible, but you should try to be realistic about how much time and energy you’ll have to commit to these tasks before you search for them. Tasks can vary in terms of time and complexity!

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2. Decide on your volunteering interests

When I say there are a ton of opportunities out there, I mean there are thousands. And they span just about every facet of life that you can think of. This can make your good intentions shrivel up in no time because you feel totally overwhelmed.

To save yourself from drowning under the deluge of random volunteer opportunities, it can be helpful to make a quick list of ways that you might like to give back. Examples could be working on citizen science projects, using your admin skills to design a one-off email template for a charity, or flexing your bilingual muscles for simple translation tasks.

3. Take the plunge!

As with anything new, it can be a little anxiety-inducing to actually commit to a volunteer task, even if you know it will be short. If you decide to perform microvolunteering tasks in person, the nervousness can feel even worse.


My best advice is to not spend too much time browsing through tasks and overwhelming yourself. As soon as you find a task that sounds doable for you, commit to it right then! Just do it, Nike-style. You’ll get a hit of endorphins for Doing the Thing, and a double hit for the knowledge that you’re helping the community.

Completing one tiny task is all you need to spur yourself into wanting to do more microvolunteering. Who knows? You might realize that you love what you’re doing so much that you want to commit to long-term volunteering! (Baby steps though.)


Let Me Help You Get Started

There are tons of microvolunteering platforms, but here are a few to get you started on your search:

Do you know of other ways to microvolunteer? Let me know in the comments!


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