Micro-volunteering has been a pretty popular topic for the past few years, but that’s not to say it’s entirely understood. A lot of people, association professionals included, still have questions about what micro-volunteering is, as well as how to implement it (successfully) at their company or organization.
Well good news! Today, we’re here to help. We're exploring some of the most common questions associated with micro-volunteering, and more importantly, answers for each:
Q: What exactly is micro-volunteering?
A: Micro-volunteering refers to volunteer opportunities that typically take only a few hours (some would argue 30 minutes or less) to complete. They’re quick, easy ways for people to give back/get involved, and they often contribute to a larger, more robust volunteer project.
Note: Many micro-volunteer opportunities are offered online (for convenience purposes), but that’s not to say ALL micro-volunteer opportunities have to be digital-based. (You could just as easily offer a 1-hour in-person volunteer shift as well.)
Q: Do I really need to offer micro-volunteer opportunities?
A: Well, this all depends on your association, but for the most part, we would say yes. Even if you’ve had a fairly steady supply of volunteers in the past, you could potentially have MORE volunteers if you opened the door to micro-volunteering.
This is particularly important when factoring in generational shifts. Your Baby Boomer members may have been fine with signing up for long-term shifts (committees and board positions, for example), but younger generations - Millennials and Gen Z-ers - are more hesitant to take on such long-term commitments. By offering both - standard and micro-volunteer opportunities - you’re more inclined to attract a larger pool applicants.
Q: What if my long-term volunteers start opting for the micro-volunteer opportunities?
A: That’s a valid question, for sure, and unfortunately, there’s no way to ensure they won’t. But that’s where you kind of have to “sell” each option independently. Standard volunteering and micro-volunteering both have advantages - and you just have to let those advantages be known (as they appeal to different people).
When it comes to micro-volunteering, really sell the fact that these opportunities are quick and designed for those who kind of want to try their hand at everything - writing, researching, transcribing, assisting with events, etc.
Then, with standard volunteering (the more long-term opportunities), really hone in on the fact that these are professional development opportunities and great career builders.
Both opportunities have advantages - and both will appeal to your members. (It all just goes back to what they’re looking for/how much time they have to devote.)
Q: What types of micro-volunteer opportunities should I offer?
A: Again, this all depends on your association, but here are a few micro-volunteer opportunities to consider:
- Hourly shifts at your next meeting or event - Rather than asking your members to volunteer for your entire event, ask them to volunteer in shifts. Have some assist with registration, then others assist with cleanup. Or, if your event spans multiple days, divide the tasks by day. That way, your members can help out while still enjoying the meeting or event.
- Short, individual writing opportunities - Often, writing opportunities are reserved for staff and committee members only. But why not offer one-off opportunities as well? Allow people to submit articles for your newsletter and/or blog, without having to commit to every post or edition.
- Micro-advocacy efforts - Your association probably advocates on behalf of something, and as you know, that’s a pretty big, ongoing effort. So why not offer small opportunities for your members to help out here and there? Ask them to share content and/or petitions online (maybe as a one-month micro-advocacy campaign). Or, ask them to attend a local town or city meeting. Again, these one-off tasks/projects are much less intimidating than a year-long committee position.
Have you experimented with micro-volunteering at your association? If so, let us know what types of opportunities you’ve offered members in the comments below!
And for more tips regarding volunteer recruitment and retention, check out our free guide to volunteer management below!