3 Steps to Starting a Micro-Volunteering Program

Micro-Volunteering is a way to get people involved with your association without having them commit a lot of time. Associations of all sizes have a long list of ways members can assist and advance the work being done by staff, but often these tasks fall outside of the established committee structure. And although the desire to volunteer remains strong among members, claims on their time continue to grow. Time is a rare commodity, so for members who cannot commit to serving on a committee but still want to contribute, micro-volunteering is a good option. It doesn’t require long-term commitments and it doesn’t take a lot of time to contribute.

1. Build a Volunteer Grid

It starts with the grid. Borrowing an idea from another association, staff started to build a grid where the time needed to complete a task was across the top axis and the number of times the task needed to be done was along the side. For example, the e- newsletter takes about 15 minutes to proof and is a task that need to be done every two weeks. Sharing membership information on your social media accounts takes 15 minutes and could only be done once. Reading an industry publication and reporting relevant content to staff takes 30 minutes but only needs to be done once a month. Reviewing conference abstracts takes one hour but only needs to be done once a year.

2. Streamline the Process

You might be thinking, “How does this save time when it will take me longer to explain it than it takes to do it?” Post the grid online and ask your webmaster to build in as many automations as possible. Clicking the social media task might download a pdf of sample language and links to graphics. Volunteering to read the newsletter generates a templated email to staff so the request can easily be identified among other emails. The goal is to make the micro-volunteering process a micro-effort to create and maintain.

3. Recognize the Effort

Just because the micro-volunteering task falls outside of your normal leadership cycle, don’t forget to recognize and celebrate their contribution to the association. Micro-volunteers might not walk up to the stage to receive a certificate, but what about sending them a gift card and a thank you note. Celebrate successes achieved through micro-volunteering to encourage other members to participate. Be sure to share the grid and its options with new members and student members. They might find this a good stepping stone to future leadership roles.

We’d love to hear examples of how your association has successfully implemented volunteering. Are you using a grid? What types of tasks fall into your matrix?