Association employees are the ultimate multitaskers. With small staffs and big memberships, association professionals do more with less every day, and they're good at it, but that doesn't mean that membership magic happens without help. More often than not, associations receive well-deserved support from their volunteer programs.
Many organizations rely on volunteers for invaluable help running committees or chapters, event planning, legislative advocacy, expert advice, and more. Volunteering also extends the reach of the organization by spreading the organization's messages and building relationships.
Volunteering may be invaluable for your organization, but it's not an easy responsibility for members to take on. Your members have busy lives and may not have the time or energy to volunteer for long periods of time, or even very often.
That doesn't mean they don't want to help, however, so to encourage volunteering, make it easier. Don't make members give up large chunks of time. Give them a way to participate for just a few minutes or hours a day, as often or as little as they like, but still make a big impact.
Shorter, valuable volunteer opportunities are also a great way to get people in the door to your full volunteer programs. They help your members become more invested in the organization and may lead to deeper involvement in the future.
What is Microvolunteering?
The short, bite-size volunteer opportunities that we're talking about are known as microvolunteering opportunities. They take only a few minutes to a few hours to complete, and while the majority of microvolunteering tasks are done online, they can also be done in person.
Microvolunteering opportunities are known for being fast and convenient ways for people to give back, and they're an area of huge potential for associations. They cater directly to your members' desire to get involved without taking up too much of their time.
Home-based, internet microvolunteering opportunities are a great way to engage younger generations like millennials as well. According to Volunteer Weekly, up to 76% of microvolunteers are under 34 years old.
Fast, easy, and popular, microvolunteering is on the rise, and it's time for your association to take full advantage of the benefits it offers. All you need are a few microvolunteering tasks to get your members started.
5 Microvolunteering Opportunities for Your Association
Every association will have different microvolunteering options based on their industry and members. Here are a few ideas that you can adapt to fit your association's needs.
Opportunity #1) Committee and Chapter Management
Microvolunteering is an ideal way to get more members involved in your association's chapters and committees. Start by asking members to vote on committee and chapter meeting agendas, initiatives, and events. What do members want to see committees and chapters do?
You can take this one step farther and involve your members with event planning in the same way. What speakers do members want at your annual conference? Put it to a vote.
This type of opportunity serves a dual purpose. It gets members involved in a short, easy volunteer opportunity, and also gives your association valuable feedback that you can use to make group offers and benefits more effective.
The tools you need to let members vote on group initiatives are readily available in your AMS software and online community. Use surveys for longer, more in-depth questions, polls for quick volunteer opportunities that take only seconds to complete, and crowdsourcing features for more free-form suggestions.
Opportunity #2) Research
Your members are a huge resource when it comes to data collection, so use them. Want information on people's moods? Set up a website or section in your online community where members can check in and tell you how they're feeling. You'll get members involved, and the amount of data you can collect will skyrocket with little to no extra cost for you.
Research isn't limited to scientific organizations. It's a flexible opportunity that can be customized to fit any association's focus. If you're a legal association, you could ask members to report back to you with general information on the types of judicial cases they're working on and where the case is being heard. Are there more civil lawsuits in one area of the country versus another? Any idea why that is?
Ask your members to volunteer short pieces of information that are relevant to your industry and use that information to identify trends that members might be interested in. The resulting research, built on volunteers, could be turned into a valuable piece of content or an educational member benefit.
Opportunity #3) Transcription
If your association or any of its chapters or committees have recorded webinars, educational programs, meetings, or events, then you have another volunteer opportunity. Let your members help you transcribe your programs and events at home, giving them short recordings to turn into easy-to-read documents.
By listening to the events, members will get caught up on recent association news, or learn valuable skills for the careers. They'll also create important content for you. Your transcribed programs can be placed in your online community's file library for member use, or put up for sale in your online store. Some associations have even turned transcribed documents into benefits for hearing-impaired members.
Opportunity #4) Writing and Content Creation
Turn your online community's blogs, forums, and Q&A's into a microvolunteering option by asking members to write a blog post or answer a question about a topic they're an expert on. Being asked to share their knowledge will make your members feel important, and it will also create valuable content for your association.
You can easily do this by looping them into your community's content calendar.
An added bonus? As members log in and explore your online community or membership management system to volunteer, they'll likely also run into content and benefits that interest them. This is a great way to drive community adoption, and an example of how microvolunteering can get members in the door and participating even after their volunteer tasks are finished.
Opportunity #5) Legislative Advocacy
The internet is powerful, especially when it comes to politics and legislation. Your association can take full advantage of that power by using microvolunteering opportunities for advocacy.
Help From Home, a microvolunteering resource site, has a great example of how organizations are successfully using microvolunteering for advocacy. They highlight how one group dedicated to helping the visually impaired asked people to take photos of cars parked on the curb. Those improperly parked cars could cause a problem for blind pedestrians, and volunteers send in photo after photo. The result? An image-based map of parking violations and proof of a problem that drove legislative change.
If your association has a cause that your members could help you document, then that's a prime microvolunteering opportunity. Ask members to take photos, videos, or even just log times that they run into the issue in their daily lives, then post that information on your website or in your online community. You'll get valuable evidence for your cause, and help raise awareness.
Microvolunteering is an ideal way to get more of your members involved because it's fast, convenient, and can be done almost anytime, anywhere. It provides valuable help and content for your association, and makes members feel like they're giving back to a cause or an industry that's important to them.
For more information on microvolunteering and help thinking of ideas for your association, consider visiting Help From Home, which has a collection of examples grouped by industry. Just remember that you should customize the ideas you find for your association and its members' needs and interests.
Tailored opportunities will be the most appealing to your members. Use your membership management software or online community to collect activity data about your members, paying specific attention to what content they consume, topics, and benefits they're interested in. Build your microvolunteering opportunities around those benefits and topics, and you'll get the help your association needs while giving your members a fast, easy way to engage and give back.