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5. Microvolunteer

April 1, 2012

“Wait a second,” I hear you say. “I don’t have time for volunteering. And didn’t your blog claim that you were finding ways to help that weren’t about donating or volunteering?”

Yes, yes, you’re right. The point of this blog is to find things that anybody and everybody can do, regardless of the restrictions on their time and wallet. Microvolunteering, however, isn’t like normal volunteering. You don’t have to commit to going somewhere every week or month – you just have to commit to doing something that you’re good at, whenever is convenient for you.

In fact, Sparked has a strapline that says: “Online volunteering for busy people (like you).” What they provide is a large number of volunteering opportunities that take a small amount of time (from 5 minutes to 2 hours), so that when you’re free, you can do some work that will benefit a group, organisation or person who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to get this work done.

It’s all very simple. You tell Sparked areas that you’re interested in (environment? justice? arts? youth?) and then indicate which skills you can offer. They’re things that you can do at home , such as social media, research and design. Once you’ve done that, the site crunches some numbers and comes back to tell you how many people share your interests and how many current projects there are.

Here’s what happened when I went through the process…

For my areas of interest, I selected environment, civil rights, education, health, politics, poverty, youth, arts, justice and food (which are nearly all the categories on there!). Then, I told them that I was good at social media, linkedin, research, blogging, brainstorming and copywriting. Crunch, crunch, crunch…ping!

There are 150,782 people who share your interests and 162 current challenges that match you.

162 challenges? Wow, sounds like I could be kept quite busy! But remember, you can choose the challenges you accept, based on the time you have and how much they appeal to you.

Amongst the ones suggested to me were the following:
– Help us write some tweets! Our originality is waning… (from Families for Depression Awareness)
– Can you give us feedback on our website? What can we do to make it better? (from Quincy Art Centre)
– Help us write an awesome thank you note – just like Mom taught you! (from Anjna Patient Education)
– Beta testing a new Fairtrade app (from The Tipping Point)

As you can see, there’s a variety of things to do and none of them take much time. A lot of the time, it seems, these are small charities and what they’re asking isn’t difficult – it’s simply that they need feedback or advice, because they don’t have the people to provide that.

I also noticed that if I went to my settings, there were many, many more categories and skills to choose from, which also gave me more things to potentially do.

Sign up and have a look – maybe there’s something you can do right now to help people in five minutes!

UPDATE
I’ve been informed about another microvolunteering site, which also looks great! Have a look at Help From Home for more microvolunteering projects.

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