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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. The development of a smartphone app made microvolunteering accessible to any nonprofit with an internet connection.[2][3][4]

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.[5] Spanish microvolunteering website first registered the phrase "microvoluntarios" as a web domain name on 27 November 2006.[6] Microvoluntarios created the first working publicly accessible online microvolunteering platform in May 2008,[7] somewhat after the first microvolunteering mobile phone application was submitted to a public Google Android competition.[8]

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

  • "Easy quick low-commitment actions that benefit a worthy cause"[9]
  • "Convenient bite-sized crowdsourced and network managed"[10]
  • "The act of voluntarily participating in day-to-day situations that occupy a brief amount of time"[11]

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