Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Micro-volunteering, a Big Idea for Small Businesses

Small businesses that find it hard to take time a full day off to volunteer can take advantage of the innovative idea of micro-volunteering. The idea of leveraging "every little bit" of time has been applied to using a computer or cell phone to do something good for the world, through a crowdsourcing technology developed by the company, the Extraordinairies.

The Extraordinaries partners with nonprofit organizations and cause-oriented groups and creates a set of micro-actions on their platform that links to the non-profit's needs. This allows individuals to sign up for on-the-spot volunteering using the software application on their computer or cell phone.

As an entrepreneur or small business owner you are often working around the clock fulfilling all the roles in the company. By capturing those seemingly wasted moments of time like waiting in line at the post office, bank, or for a doctor's appointment you can still use your time, energy and skills towards some social good.

Micro-volunteers can participate in all kinds of worthwhile projects: exotic projects like transcribing ancient texts, or tagging images for the Smithsonian; fun projects like mapping playspaces for Kaboom or taking photographs for police investigations; community projects like mapping waste-water use or local potholes. Tying these causes to the values, core strengths and the purpose of the company will give you the satisfaction of contributing to the benefit of society in a way that is meaningful to you and your business.

How does micro-volunteering help? An example of one of the volunteer jobs, translating documents or websites could save a non-profit about $.14 a word for Spanish, or as much as $1.50 a word for Swahili in translating services.

If your business has employees that are interested in becoming involved, they too can micro-volunteer during some of their down time, using the computer or their smart phones at the office. This gives employees the opportunity to be engaged in the values and the greater purpose of the business which helps build employee morale and commitment.

But be careful, they might have so much fun they won't get back to work!

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