There are a variety of ways to volunteer for worthy local causes or local community organisations, or indeed for global charities far extending beyond the boundaries of Cambridgeshire. The choice is yours.

In addition to the traditional methods of volunteering, there are a few alternative ways that you can give your time and expertise, often from the comfort of your own home.

Micro-volunteering:

Micro – volunteering and the internet are together offering a powerful platform to support worthy causes at home and around the world. The concept is quickly gaining momentum and has opened up a communication channel between volunteers and charities which could potentially  shape the future of volunteering in years to come.

So, what is it about volunteering through the internet that makes it so popular?

  • It’s quick – a micro – action can take less than 10 minutes.
  • it’s free.
  • It can fit around your busy schedule.

Equally, charities are finding micro – volunteering an attractive option as they look for more innovative ways to recruit volunteers.

What types of activity can a volunteer get involved in?

The list is almost endless.

Examples include:

  • Being a ‘pen pal’ with a hospitalised child.
  • Sign an online petition for a cause you believe in.
  • Knit an item of clothing for someone who is need of it.
  • Helping a charity run their e-bay account.
  • Offering translation services.
  • Editing articles on Wikipedia.
  • Supporting a charities web-presence.
  • Helping a charity with their social media strategy.

There are several websites that offer such opportunities. These include:

As we always recommend, do your own research on the opportunity and the organisation and make sure that it is suitable for you and your circumstances.

Rosie Hall explains her experience with Micro-volunteering:

Q: How did you first find out about Micro-volunteering?

A: I was interested in volunteering, but working 9-5 didn’t really leave me with much spare time to dedicate myself to a long term commitment with a charity.

I wondered whether there were any charities looking for online help – I could use the skills I use in my day job as a Marketing Executive. So, I did a quick search and found platforms such as Help from Home and Skills for Change and signed up straight away.

Q: What types of activities have you completed as part of your Micro-volunteering?

A: As I work in Marketing, the things I have done for charities have all stemmed from that. I have done quite a few different things including helping out with website management, creating content, and advising on how to grow a social media presence.

Q: What is it you enjoy most about Micro-volunteering?

A: It’s great to be able to give something back to charities and really help them with the things they need without even having to leave your house!

The charities I’ve worked with have been quite small, so I’m always filled with a sense of achievement knowing I have done something that may have not been possible without my input, due to lack of in-house resources.

Q: Have you seen any other benefits from Micro-volunteering?

A: Absolutely. It’s great to build relationships with the people at these charities and I’ve also managed to build my CV up quite a lot since volunteering.

My Micro-volunteering  has been the topic of conversation at quite a few interviews now! It looks really impressive to employers that you’re willing to do something for nothing.

Q: Why should other people get involved?  How should they go about doing this?

A: Other people should get involved because there are charities out there who need your skills. Everyone has a few minutes to spare to complete a quick action for someone who needs it.

Volun-tourism:

Volun-tourism is a new form of international travel which allows individuals to contribute to sustainable development whilst exploring a new country or culture.

How does volun-tourism benefit the community?

There are a number of ways that volun-tourism can benefit local people:

  • When you contribute to a well-run and sustainable volunteer project, you are helping to implement long-term development. Use your skills, time, and energy to make a difference that will last long after you have returned home. By helping a local teacher improve their English and classroom skills through a teaching project for example, you will indirectly impact the children they teach. When you help a struggling entrepreneur with their business, you are helping to support an entire family for years to come.
  • By participating in volun-tourism, you are contributing to the local economy. In their free time, most volunteers take advantage of the opportunity to go sightseeing. Many developing countries rely heavily on the income from tourism and volun-tourism.
  • Most volun-tourism companies employ local staff. This provides jobs for local people and thus boosts the local economy.

Volun-tourism is growing increasingly popular but it is extremely important to carefully research the organization you are considering traveling with. Experience, sustainability, and financial responsibility are essential to running programs that truly benefit the local population.

There are many websites that offer opportunities abroad. These include:

Timebanking:

Timebanking is a way of bringing local communities together.

  • People list the skills and experience which they can offer and those that they may need.
  • Everyone’s skills are valued equally – one hour always equals one time credit.
  • Everyone agrees to both give and to receive help, to earn and to spend their time credits.
  • A record is kept of all the time credits earned and spent, ideally on computer using the ‘Time Online’ system.
  • Everyone is encouraged to spend their time credits to allow others the chance to make a difference and feel needed.

Cambridgeshire has a number of Time-banks. For more details visit our dedicated Timebank page https://www.supportcambridgeshire.org.uk/timebanking/

Timecredits:

Timecredits is similar to Timebanking, only every hour earned enables an individual to gain Timecredits which can be used in a variety of places and locations. In the East of England, over 90 community partners and 80 spend venues are involved wirth 2,500 volunteers giving over 78,000 hours to their local community. Visit Spice.org to find out more.

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