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Micro-volunteering describes a task done by a volunteer, or a team of volunteers, without payment, either online via an internet-connected device, including smartphones, or offline in small increments of time, usually to benefit a nonprofit organization, charitable organization, or non-governmental organization. Micro-volunteering is a form of virtual volunteering. It typically does not require an application process, screening or training period, takes only minutes or a few hours to complete, and does not require an ongoing commitment by the volunteer.

Micro-volunteering has been practiced informally and on an ad-hoc basis, with nonprofits involving volunteers in short-term, low-commitment assignments via the Internet for some time.[1] The Extraordinaries, a San Francisco-based social enterprise founded in January 2008 popularised this form of volunteering via their microvolunteering product known as www.sparked. com (since then, the company pivoted to customer satisfaction analytics, and the iOS app abandoned[2]). The development of a smartphone app made microvolunteering accessible to any nonprofit with an internet connection.[3][4][5]

The first known instance of the term "microvolunteering" appeared on 9 May 2006 within a response to a blog post on the U.K. mySociety platform.[6] Spanish microvolunteering website first registered the phrase "microvoluntarios" as a web domain name on 27 November 2006.[7] Microvoluntarios created the first working publicly accessible online microvolunteering platform in May 2008,[8] somewhat after the first microvolunteering mobile phone application was submitted to a public Google Android competition.[9]

There are several definitions of the term "microvolunteering" in use:

  • "Easy quick low-commitment actions that benefit a worthy cause"[10]
  • "Convenient bite-sized crowdsourced and network managed"[11]
  • "The act of voluntarily participating in day-to-day situations that occupy a brief amount of time"[12]

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