Sometimes, it comes down to the right task doled out the right way. Here are some ways to make microvolunteering work for your association.
Volunteers can sometimes be difficult to recruit—but asking them the right way helps. A lot.
Microvolunteering, the concept of asking people to do small things for the benefit of the collective whole, isn’t new, but it is a pretty great way of engaging volunteers.
Some thoughts on how to use it and how to maximize its value:
Break up a bigger task. If there’s something that would prove difficult to complete at scale, microvolunteering could help make it something manageable. “It’s essentially the ‘many hands make light work’ approach,” notes Charlotte Muylaert, a marketing leader for Billhighway, in an article on ASAE’s website. “These short assignments can lighten the load and prevent burnout in chapter leaders or others while still building the volunteer habit in members.”
Build engagement with donors. Of the many benefits that microvolunteering can have, one of the biggest is that it can boost engagement with a cause, which improves web traffic, social followings, and even donations. “Because microvolunteers aren’t pressured to fill a specific need at a specific time, they will likely feel more able to meet the demands of your volunteer opportunities,” Latasha Doyle writes on the GuideStar blog. “Allowing volunteers to come and go can also encourage people to return to your organization when their schedules free up again.”
Leverage moments of downtime. People are busy, and at Forbes, contributor Davide Banis says that microvolunteering tactics might prove useful in areas where your members are otherwise stuck or in limbo—say, at an airport or train station. “For busy road warriors, it’d be an opportunity not only to do good but also to reduce their own travel fatigue as evidence shows that helping others is actually beneficial for your own mental health and wellbeing,” Banis says.
Find the perfect task that only a person can do. In a world where seemingly anything can be automated, there’s still plenty of room for helpers who can make those digital tasks more effective—Banis cites the success of Be My Eyes, an app that allows sighted microvolunteers to assist blind and low-vision people in trying to learn what something is. Mechanical Turk, the Amazon-run service, has also found plenty of examples of small tasks people can help with. And there are even examples of tasks that don’t require direct oversight but donated technology can enable, such as [email protected], the long-running astronomy research experiment run by UC Berkeley.
Encourage standout microvolunteers to step up. Certain microvolunteers will stand out from their peers, and it’s important to harness their skills and enthusiasm for future projects. “Helping your leaders learn how to identify qualified volunteers who might enjoy deeper involvement is a great way to keep these valuable players on the volunteer roster, and keep the roster growing,” Billhighway’s Muylaert added.