New Micro-Volunteering Initiatives: From the Newest Modes of Communication to the Oldest Treasures of Antiquity
As social technologies evolve, more and more people use mobile media in new and creative ways in volunteering. This has become most obvious in the recent development of micro-volunteering. Micro-volunteering allows people to contribute to projects remotely, from their computers or their smart phones, in small, but nevertheless significant ways.
British telecommunications company, Orange, has recently launched their Do Some Good app for smartphones, to provide their customers with plenty of micro-volunteering opportunities as well as incentives for participating. The types of opportunities available range from simple tasks you can do when you have five minutes, such as participating in a survey for a nonprofit or submitting blood pressure results for a national survey, to more involved and adventurous tasks such as taking photos at a wildlife reserve or helping to map an area. For more micro-volunteering ideas, browse the Good News blog which reports on actual initiatives under way.
Then the Orange RockCorps Collective allows participants to redeem the time they’ve given micro-volunteering with the app toward music-related gifts, such as concert tickets. The app provides further inspiration to users, by having charities follow up by reporting on the impact of everyone’s collective action.
Another, and one of the more interesting applications of micro-volunteering, is a new initiative called WikiLoot. Started by Jason Feich, co-author of the book Chasing Aphrodite about the smuggling of a $2,300,000 statue of Aphrodite out of Italy, WikiLoot seeks to apply volunteer efforts by the public to help in the fight against the theft of antiquities. The basic idea is to construct a Web-based platform through which individuals – experts and amateurs alike – can contribute to an online database. In a brief interview on the BBC Global News podcast, Feich suggests one way in which non-experts will be able to get involved:
Going to their local museums and inquiring about the ownership history of an ancient object they see on display . . . The museum visitor can then snap a photo on their cell phone, upload that to WikiLoot, and include any information the museum provides.
The project is only in its first phase, but there are already ways to get involved. There is currently a Facebook group which anyone can join to share ideas about the development of the project. Some people have expressed concern that the publicizing of information about antiquity theft may cause perpetrators to go underground, but in a recent article in the UK newspaper, the Guardian, Feich defends his open source attack on crime by saying, “The police tend to want to keep their cards close to their chest and play them one by one, but they have had 20 years now to do that." Looks like it’s time for the volunteers to step up and try!
How could micro-volunteering apply to your organization? Do you know of other innovative ways in which crowdsourcing and micro-volunteering are being used? Possibly by you? Let us know by leaving a comment!
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