April 15: Happy Microvolunteering Day!

Microvolunteering Day

How long does it take to volunteer?  Some might say an entire day.  Others might suggest a few hours.  I would argue that many tasks to make the world a slightly better place can be completed in a matter of minutes.  This is the idea behind “microvolunteering.”  Popularized in 2008, microvolunteering is a concept that aims to match people with a few spare minutes of time to short-term volunteer projects many of which can be completed virtually.

The benefits of volunteering are numerous.  Not only can you help a cause about which you are passionate, but you also can add this experience to your resume.  In a study of hiring managers conducted by LinkedIn, 41 percent said they considered volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience.  In fact, a 2013 study by the Corporation for National and Community Service tracked more than 70,000 jobless people between 2002 and 2012.  Those that had volunteered had a 27 percent better chance of finding a job.

Many UMUC students and alumni are balancing many priorities including work, school, and family obligations.  As a result, traditional community service projects that take a significant amount of time may not be feasible in an already busy schedule.  The wonderful thing about microvolunteering is that it does not require a huge time commitment.  As this video demonstrates, it only takes a few minutes to translate something for a blind person or write an encouraging letter to a sick child.

How do you find these opportunities?  Numerous sites have been created including:

  • Help from Home: This site features over 800 causes that you can complete from home or in person in 30 minutes or less. These “Actions” are sorted based on the topics that interest you and the amount of time you have.
  • Skills for Change: Complete a short questionnaire about those causes that are important to you, the skills you possess, and the amount of time you have, and you will be matched with microvolunteering options.
  • Microvolunteering Day: April 15 has been designated as “Microvolunteering Day.” The website for this event features over 200 microvolunteering options that take 1-30 minutes and can be completed virtually. You can also use various social media sites to share how you volunteered on Microvolunteering Day and to learn about others experiences.  You can find a list of ways you can participate and additional microvolunteering sites available here.

So now that you know about Microvolunteering Day, mark April 15 on your calendar and join this larger movement of spending a few spare minutes in your day, and help someone out by microvolunteering.  And if you do, please tell us about your experience by replying to this article.  We’d love to hear about it!

Kristin Schrader is the assistant director of InternPlus at University of Maryland University College.  She has a background in human resources and has worked in career services at four universities.  Most recently, she was the Lead Trainer in Europe for the U.S. Department of Labor Employment Workshop teaching transitioning service members about the civilian job search.  She is passionate about helping others obtain their professional goals.