And why should it matter to you?

Credit: Author

This article is part of a series highlighting events and holidays from the sustainability calendar, your definitive guide to a year of climate action. Find out more here or read the monthly summary for April here.

What is Microvolunteering Day?

The event’s website¹ describes Microvolunteering as:

bite-sized, on-demand, no commitment actions that benefit a worthy cause

That is quick actionable ways that you can donate your time, money or expertise in the support of others. Microvolunteering Day is a way to bring together individuals, sponsors, charities and non-profit organisations to celebrate the meaningful impact that even the smallest actions can have.

Microvolunteering can take a variety of different forms, either in person or online through a website or app. Examples include donating to food banks, litter picking, using apps or search engines to support charities and non-profit organisations, participating in citizen science, and more. They are ways to make contributions when you are short on time or physically distanced from the beneficiaries.

The day falls on 15 April each year.

My experience

If you’re like me, you probably already volunteer in ways that could be considered micro, without thinking of it as such.

I volunteer in the following tiny ways:

  • Donations to our local food bank when I do my weekly grocery shop
  • Planting of trees through an app (treeapp) and a search engine (ecosia)
  • Litter picking

Why do I like this concept? It gives me a way to live by one of my rules for life: “Hustle While you Wait”. Using your downtime productively, in this case for the benefit of others.

Why should it matter to you?

No matter what your cause is, every little action or gesture helps it get closer towards the goal, whether that be financial, spreading awareness or physical or intellectual labour.

Helping charities and non-profit organisations however you can is important, particularly since the pandemic when many streams of funding were reduced or even cut.

The good thing about volunteering is it can cover at least two of the aspects of sustainability: societal and environmental. Most charities we support will fulfil a societal need, whether that is improving a local amenity, or furthering research to increase health or wellbeing locally, nationally or globally. Sometimes this will also fulfil an environmental need by improving a local habitat or helping scientists to understand the populations or behaviours of threatened species.

Microvolunteering requires a much smaller time commitment than regular volunteering, which can enable those of us with busy schedules to still contribute where we might not be able to spare a half or a whole day at a time.

Microvolunteering can often be free, which can be important for those of us who are struggling financially during this pandemic.

Microvolunteering can often be done remotely, or outdoors, which will be particularly handy for those of us still at risk from coronavirus, or in areas where restrictions have not yet eased.

How you can get involved

Use charity search engines:

  • ecosia: plants trees with ad-revenue generated during searching
  • givewater: donates to water charities with ad-revenue
  • ekoru: donates to beach clean charities with ad-revenue

Use environmental apps:

  • treeapp (plants trees with ad-revenue generated from users viewing ads)
  • Forest: productivity app that plants trees with sponsor money
  • #climate: share causes with social media followers
  • WeDon’tHaveTime: crowd-sourcing climate outreach to companies and governments and providing a source of climate information for users

Use foodshare apps:

Participate in Citizen Science:

As far as I know, there is no single database or reference of citizen science opportunities, so this may require a bit of leg work on your part. Start with your local educational establishments, national ecology/wildlife groups, or scientific associations.

Screenshot: author. Source: Ecosia search for “citizen science Devon”

A search using one of the search engines mentioned above for “citizen science [your area]”. Testing it for my county provided some promising results (as shown left).

Related sustainable development goals

11 Sustainable Cities and Communities


Footnotes

¹ After a lot of thought, I’ve decided not to link to what appears to be the official website. It hasn’t been updated in years, half of the links are broken, and those that do work direct to dodgy torrent sites (I kid you not). I’ve tried to include some related causes and websites which look more respectable above, but you may have to enter the spirit of the day rather than following any specific official channel.

If you want to double up the societal good, find causes or ways to participate by using one of the search engines above.