A trend in volunteerism over the last ten years has been the rise of microvolunteerism. Definitions vary on the specifics of microvolunteering, but all center around a few key aspects:

  • A short time commitment
  • Quick projects
  • Primarily done on one’s own (contributing pieces to a larger project)

What makes microvolunteering innovative is the time commitment. Community organizations know that people are busy; these opportunities hope to capitalize on the limited free time that someone has. There is no cap on the number of hours in a microvolunteering opportunity, but it is suggested that projects not exceed 1-2 hours a day.

Since microvolunteering centers around the short time commitment of an individual, opportunities tend to require a specific action which can be completed quickly. Many microvolunteering platforms engage prospective volunteers with a questionnaire, where they self identify their skills and receive relevant projects.

Both community organizations and volunteers benefit from microvolunteering.  The process to recruit, train and retain a volunteer is time consuming and if the volunteer is not a good fit with the organization, both sides may feel it was a misuse of time. With microvolunteering there is no screening process or training, activities are easily accessible and there is no ongoing commitment. If a volunteer does not see a project as a good fit, they can select another project with the same organization or different one.  If an organization does not like the completed work from a volunteer, there is often a pool of applicants for them to draw from. 

Many microvolunteers find it rewarding to see the immediate, tangible impact of their work. For other community organizations, once a project is complete, a certificate or thank you note is usually sent to the project participant. Occasionally there is a project thermometer displaying overall completion.