Exploring micro-volunteering

Anna Barrow, Volunteering Development Officer for VAL, talks about what micro-volunteering is and how it can be beneficial to both volunteers and organisations.

Micro-volunteering opportunities are easy and often low-commitment actions and activities that can be done from home. Most of these can be completed in short time frames (less than 30 minutes) whilst others can harness high-level skills that can be used to support the work of an organisation. Micro-volunteering has been around for a long time and often goes through peaks and troughs with its popularity. VAL has been exploring it again to build on the momentum created from community volunteering during the pandemic and harness the current spotlight on the fantastic work volunteers do.


Micro-volunteering can be an effective tool to boost the profile of an organisation, provide useful information and statistics and help people to do something good with little effort.


Micro-volunteering can be an effective tool to boost the profile of an organisation, provide useful information and statistics and help people to do something good with little effort. One example of this is to get volunteers to “like, share and subscribe” on various social media platforms. This can help get the word out about the work your organisation does and reach much further than other traditional methods of engagement. If social media is an area that you are struggling to utilise, micro-volunteering is another great way to get volunteers involved in small chunks. They can help set up accounts and get systems in place for you to be able to take it forward. You could also get micro-volunteers to create content for websites and newsletters too. These are all things that can be done from the comfort of their homes.

Micro-volunteers are useful to be able to gain information about the local area and the barriers and issues people face. Asking people to complete online surveys or record information can help drive research into a particular area, creating evidence for funding bids and proving the need to start or maintain projects. For example, Cancer Research UK use micro-volunteers to improve their data protection and sharing polices, explore the way Cancer patients could be treated better throughout their journey, and to review content on their website. This allows them to gain a better insight into how their work affects their service users and to ensure it is meeting their needs.


Micro-volunteering does not need to be exclusively online. Nationally, 13% of people do not use the internet in their day to day lives or they do not have regular access to the internet at home.


Micro-volunteering does not need to be exclusively online. Nationally, 13% of people do not use the internet in their day to day lives or they do not have regular access to the internet at home. There are many ways to get people involved away from technology, from doing a 5 minute litter pick in their local community, to creating homes for insects and hedgehogs in their gardens. There are also a number of crafting activities that people can do that can brighten up someone’s day or to create a stream of income for some charities. Loving Hands has a team of volunteers from across the country to make a variety of items for charities across the world. They have also developed local groups where volunteers can meet up to create crafts together, maintaining social contact and forming friendships.

Whether you have existing volunteers that may not be able to fulfil their usual role, or volunteers waiting to start when you reopen, micro-volunteering is a creative way to keep them engaged during this pandemic. By offering individuals small tasks that they can complete at home, you will be reminding them that they are valued as volunteers and their work is vital to the running of your organisation. Micro-volunteering can also lead to more long term volunteering; As volunteers learn more about what your organisation does they may be willing to commit more time and energy to support your cause.


It is important to reiterate that micro-volunteering should not replace traditional volunteering roles. Many people choose to volunteer to reduce loneliness and meet new people.


It is important to reiterate that micro-volunteering should not replace traditional volunteering roles. Many people choose to volunteer to reduce loneliness and meet new people. NCVO’s Time Well Spent report found that 68% of people reported to feel less isolated due to volunteering and this was especially apparent in young people. Traditional volunteering roles also help to build volunteers’ social skills and experience whilst providing an excellent service to those we support in the VCSE sector. Rather than replacing traditional volunteering, micro-volunteering should be viewed as complementary to other volunteering roles. This will appeal to those who do not wish to make a long term commitment and those who may struggle to find the time to volunteer during “normal working hours”.


If you are considering exploring how to incorporate micro-volunteering you need to explore if it the right fit for your organisation.


If you are considering exploring how to incorporate micro-volunteering you need to explore if it the right fit for your organisation. Micro-volunteers still need some level of supervision and oversight and in some instances volunteers will need to be vetted. Look at what services you already provide and see if they can be divided into smaller roles. Alternatively, look at what you are currently missing in your delivery and find out if that is something that micro-volunteers could help with. Talk to your existing or past volunteers to hear what their thoughts are on different options and research similar organisations to see what they are doing. To help you, VAL has created a micro-volunteering page on our volunteering website while NCVO have some great starting points when setting up a micro volunteering project, so take a look at those as a place to start when putting together some ideas.

VAL support

There are lots of ways to support your local community and volunteering is adapting to allow people to continue to offer their time in creative ways, so please follow the updates on the VAL Volunteering website to see how you can help in the future.

If you need any further support to set up micro-volunteering projects or would like to learn more, you get can in touch via:

volunteering@valonline.org.uk
0116 257 5050

Anna Barrow

Anna is a Volunteering Development Officer for VAL and the Work. Live. Leicestershire project, helping people to overcome barriers to work in rural Leicestershire. Contact her via anna.b@valonline.org.uk or on Twitter at @AnnaB_VAL