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Microvolunteering: Can you really change the world just in your pyjamas?


While recruiting volunteers for Volunteer Prince George, I regularly hear people say “I’d love to volunteer, but I just don’t have time.”  As someone who often dives into projects without thinking, I admire their ability to prioritize their time.

But, what would those people say if I told them that they could do the following:

“Volunteer your time in bite sized chunks, from your own home, on demand and on your own terms. Benefit worthy causes to suit your lifestyle via non-skilled actions. Dip in and dip out with absolutely no commitment. It’s all FREE! And, oh yeah, you can do them in your pyjamas!” (Help from Home)

According to Help from Home, this type of volunteering is possible and is called “Microvolunteering”.  Apparently, microvolunteering as a term has been around since 2006.  A quick google search will show you that microvolunteering has grown so much that Microvolunteering Day is now celebrated on April 15th every year!

As a Mom with a family, a dog, a house, a garden, a career, and more, I had to wonder: Is microvolunteering too good to be true?  However, I became convinced that microvolunteering has a definite place in the volunteering world after watching Ben Rigby’s TEDxTalk in 2010 on  “Micro-Volunteering – Giving Back for Busy People”.  For example, Ben states that together people could build 55 Empire State Buildings in the same amount of time they spend on Facebook in a single day.

Statistics Canada’s Report Volunteer in Canada, 2004 to 2013, found that the top two reasons for not volunteering were a lack of time and an inability to make a long-term commitmentVolunteer Canada felt volunteer organizations could fight these issues through the following:

“Offering short-term, casual opportunities and micro-volunteering can be a great way to let potential volunteers test the waters of an organization.”

Infographic on Why Canadians don't volunteer - Stats Canada Report Volunteer in Canada 2013

Infographic on “Why don’t Canadians volunteer?” based on information from Statistics Canada’s Report Volunteer in Canada, 2004 to 2013.

Interestingly though, it has been pointed out that microvolunteerism has BOTH PROS and CONS for the individual volunteer and the volunteer organizations.  A great discussion of these benefits and drawbacks can be found on Volunteer Alberta’s blog featuring an interview with Chelsea Sherbut from Volunteer Lethbridge.

Well, I must say that I love giving back and I love wearing pyjamas, so I am definitely going to explore microvolunteering through at least one of these organizations:

What about you?  Have you experienced microvolunteerism?  I’d love to hear your story.  Keep in touch by email at volunteerpg@telus.net or through Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/VolunteerPG.

Happy volunteering,

Sarah Foot

General Manager

Volunteer Prince George

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