Micro-Volunteering: Enough of a Commitment?

micro vol



Today's reading: a very provocative article on micro-volunteering - i.e. the continued rise of mechanisms for people who say they want to give back to society but feel they lack the time, skills and/or resources to volunteer on a larger, more-committed scale.

The main commonality among these micro-volunteering hubs is twofold:


  1. They suggest volunteer tasks that in most cases can be knocked out in a matter of minutes.
  2. They all use Web-based technology - including, of course, the smarter-than-thou phone - to match potential micro-volunteers with opportunities, and even help people track all the micro-actions they take, which, over time,  gives a cumulative (and more gratifying) sense of having volunteered on a macro level.

Examples: One site, sparked.com, matches your skills (e.g. marketing, fundraising, copy writing, web development, etc.) and your interests (animals, environment, education, etc.) to find volunteering opportunities. Some others, like TheDonation  are more focused on a single cause.

Micro volunteering has ignited a debate within the volunteer community. Some say it's great that people can find small ways to contribute, even if those contributions often take about the same time and commitment level as a standard coffee break. Others counter that micro-volunteering gives people a somewhat false sense that they really are making a difference (thus allowing them to take a pass on macro-volunteering), and that a great many of us fritter away enough time on self-indulgence that we very likely do have the bandwidth for a more involved and engaging volunteering effort.

What do you think? Is micro-volunteering good, bad or neutral? Have you tried it? We want to know!

And, just so we don't feel left out of the game, make sure you check Create The Good whenever you're in the market for a volunteer opportunity - micro or macro.

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