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Micro-volunteering: doing some good through smartphones?

New forms of technology have led to a growing interest in developing remote volunteering opportunities that require little on-going commitment and are quick to complete, recently exemplified by Orange’s Do Some Good smartphone App- an initiative that provides five minute volunteering opportunities through smartphones. While such ‘micro-volunteering’ is often presented as a way to enhance levels of civic engagement, very little is known about its impact and value and the motives for participating. To address this gap in knowledge, the Institute for Volunteering Research conducted a short survey to explore who is involved in micro-volunteering, why people micro-volunteer and micro-volunteering's relationship with other forms of volunteering and charitable giving. The survey was hosted on the Do Some Good App and went live at the end of June 2011 and ran until December 2011.

This research bulletin presents findings from the survey. While highlighting the possible benefits of micro-volunteering, it demonstrates the need to be wary of assuming that such initiatives will engage those who are less likely to participate in more ‘traditional’ forms of civic engagement and that they stimulate activity in other forms of participation. The bulletin also shows that the factors and motives that drive people to participate in micro-volunteering can be quite different to those often associated with wider forms of volunteering. The bulletin concludes by discussing the implications for policy and practice and by identifying a number of areas for further research.

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