Micro-volunteering on the rise – new research

More organisations are creating and advertising ‘micro-volunteering’ opportunities, according to new research from NCVO published today.

Demand for such volunteering opportunities, often tasks that can be completed online or on smartphones, is also likely to grow, the research concludes, as it provides a more accessible form of volunteering which is increasingly sought after. Growth will also be driven by technological development.

The research finds that organisations that offered micro-volunteering had largely benefited from doing so, for example by broadening their range of volunteers and improving their organisation’s reach and capacity. However there are challenges in providing micro-volunteering opportunities. For example, micro-volunteering was often felt to be riskier for organisations than longer-term volunteering, as organisations had less ‘control’ over volunteers.

Researchers conducted an analysis of existing micro-volunteering opportunities, as well as workshops with organisations who offered micro-volunteering already, and those who were considering doing so. They also conducted focus groups with people who did not currently volunteer.

Among the organisations currently considering how to implement micro-volunteering programmes profiled in the report are Guide Dogs, St John’s Ambulance, and Thurrock Council. Tenovus and Greater Manchester Youth Network offer examples of current micro-volunteering programmes.

NCVO will publish guidance for charities and other organisations on good practice in micro-volunteering based on the research later this year.

Nick Ockenden, head of the Institute for Volunteering Research at NCVO, said:

‘It’s clear from our research that micro-volunteering is going to be a growing part of the future of volunteering. Organisations that are able to create bite-size opportunities will benefit from the time of those who are not able to commit to longer-term roles, at least to begin with.

‘Micro-volunteering isn’t without challenges though, and as with all sorts of volunteering, it requires careful thought and management in order to get the best results for the organisation and for volunteers.

‘It was also interesting to see that while it’s the most commonly used term, ‘micro-volunteering’ isn’t particularly popular with volunteers or organisations. It would be worth organisations finding ways of describing micro-volunteering opportunities that best suit them and their potential volunteers.’

Notes

This research project was funded by a grant from the Cabinet Office’s Innovation in Giving fund, which is run by Nesta.

NCVO represents the charity and voluntary sector, with over 10,000 members, from the biggest household name charities to the smallest community groups.

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