Written by Banu Raghuraman
The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Endeavour.
As part of the microvolunteering theme in our newsletter newsletter, we bring you the perspective of the winner of the Koodonation challenge, which lead to the creation of one of the first microvolunteering sites in Canada.
Sean Cameron is a 3rd year HBBA student at Wilfrid Laurier University, currently on his 2nd coop assignment. Sean is known for “making a difference” in his communities and is passionate about social entrepreneurship. In 2012, Sean won the PepsiCo Pitch competition for the +5 Project, a way to use business tools to help entrepreneurs escape poverty. As well, he led Laurier’s team to win the Koodonation Microvolunteering challenge out of more than twenty-five universities across Canada. On campus, Sean is involved as the President of the Laurier Glassco Charitable Foundation, a BU111 Teaching Assistant, former Director of Philanthropy for the Student Alumni Association, and the Executive Consultant for Enactus Laurier.
1. How did you hear about microvolunteering?
I stumbled across an article about the US version of Koodonation, and saw the impact it was having connecting volunteers online with deserving causes. When I discovered Koodonation I knew that it would be a huge opportunity to do the same in the Canadian market. The concept was really cemented when the Koodonation Microvolunteering challenge was presented to Canadian universities, giving us the opportunity to learn and interact with the platform.
2. Why microvolunteering?
Microvolunteering has 3 main benefits for both volunteers and charities:
- Finding volunteers with specific skills: I have seen smaller charities who don’t have the same level of resources as larger charities, but still have the same challenges. Some of these challenges can be carried out remotely, but many of these smaller charities don’t have an idea how to go about getting volunteers. Microvolunteering not only creates a large base of volunteers, but can target volunteers with specific skills such as design, coding, social media, and project management.
- The ability to volunteer anywhere, 24/7: Microvolunteering is great for university students and those who do not have a lot of time to contribute, but can occasionally help. Why? This platform allows anyone to volunteer anytime, anywhere. If a student has time at 2am they can now help out, the same goes for a commuter on a train, someone on a lunch break etc. Microvolunteering breaks down barriers that previously plagued thousands of potential volunteers. This platform is an amazing 21st century solution for a big problem, going online to reach a broader audience that is increasingly time-strapped.
- A deeper understanding of Donors and Volunteers: Having worked in marketing channels, I know that “knowing your customer” is a huge must. By participating in this online platform, the charity has an opportunity to give the audience what they want; to reach out to donors; to spread awareness, and better provide their services, all in real-time. From the volunteer’s perspective, it provides (almost) instant gratification for their hard work. From a social perspective, we are building a broader community by reaching across the country.
3. What kind of growth do you expect for microvolunteering?
As it becomes better known, we will see a broader community of people coming together to help. Microvolunteering is still at the grassroots level, but with traction people will see it as a way to make a contribution, which in turn will contribute towards building a larger community. People who previously had no idea about microvolunteering will start to get engaged.
Charities will start to understand that this platform will help them solve some of their problems at low or no cost. They will receive help for issues that in the past they had no resources to solve.
4. What are the attractive features of microvolunteering?
From a student perspective, it is like a community with everyone adding their ideas. Every answer builds on the last one, with the overall team supporting the best idea, it is a very democratic approach.
I personally love the way this gives a direct link between the charity and the volunteer encouraging communication and appreciation. Even if you put in a little time, you are appreciated for your efforts.
As I said above my favourite feature is that the work can be done anywhere and anytime. There is no minimum or maximum time you have to commit. You can do the work whenever you have free time, and it can be on any device.
5. What type of volunteer works best with this approach?
In general, I think it could work well for anyone. Narrowing it down, it works best for those people who want to help out, but don’t have a lot of free time.
This platform complements regular volunteering. With Millennials constantly online and connected, Microvolunteering it is a great technological solution for charities.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Sean’s interview on our blog.