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Liz Abell’s Blog: Flexible Volunteering

7 October 2019

In my latest Western Morning News article for The DR Company, I explored flexible volunteering and the opportunity it presents for community groups to benefit from more engagement.

So what is flexible volunteering? Well, it is a different kind of volunteering that is more suited to busy modern lives, where people need not commit to long term or time consuming responsibilities, but instead give what and when they can. It is about allowing volunteers greater control over how they contribute, for example carrying out tasks from home at times to suit them, or contributing to one off events with no requirement to attend regular committee meetings. It can take the shape of micro-volunteering, which is the name for carrying out very small tasks, such as spending 10 minutes picking up litter on your way past your local community centre, or simply sharing a hashtag to promote a cause.

The key ingredients are minimal formality and commitment, and short term tasks to complete. Traditionally this would be fraught with risk, how can you be sure people will do the work properly and reliably? But as the workplace moves forward, volunteering needs to evolve as well. Technology can help, for example, making use of messaging applications to provide instant communication and minimise the need for formal meetings. Also micro tasks can be advertised simply using social media, which can also be used to monitor participation. Of course if people enjoy themselves and share this with their contacts, that also provides further positive publicity.

It is an exciting time for all organisations that work with volunteers, and flexibility may be all that is needed to secure a strong future.

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