Microvolunteering takes off at WLU

(Graphic by Carley McGlynn)

Imagine being able to make a difference without moving from your seat.

Microvolunteering, an online volunteering system created by KoodoNation last October, allows students to do just that. While it is not a complete substitute for physical volunteering, the two volunteer concepts parallel one another since they both aim to achieve the same thing — giving back.

“The microvolunteering concept is really something that we thought was amazing because it really caters to everyone, you can do it on your own time, it is flexible and it is online,” expressed Jennifer Robertson, director of marketing communications for Koodo Mobile.

She added that Koodo’s public relations agency came to them with this concept and they have been working with microvolunteers since 2008. Spark.com now partners with them and helped launch the microvolunteer program in Canada.

“It’s the twenty-first century way of getting involved,” added Sean Cameron, a second year business student at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Cameron is leading a team in a competition presented by KoodoNation that allows students from 25 different schools to compete against one another to try and complete as many online tasks as possible for non-profit organizations.

Cameron, along with over 160 volunteers from Laurier, was consistently volunteering his time and skills online in challenges until the end of the competition, which was Nov. 18.

At press time, the results hadn’t come in, but Cameron explained that towards the end of the competition, Laurier led by 17,000 points.

“[The] challenges are really simple,” said Cameron.

He continued to explain that non-profit charities across Canada post challenges to students that will assist the charities in some way.

Some examples of online challenges include: reviewing websites, helping the charities out with their Facebook pages and creating logos.

“These [non-profit charity organizations] may not have all the experience in social media but they know university students are good at it,” explained Cameron.

Points are awarded to volunteers for every challenge they complete which add to the overall total for the Laurier team in the competition.

If Laurier succeeds in this competition, the school will be awarded $35,000 that can be donated to the charity of their choosing.

Cameron explained if the Laurier team wins the money will go to the Colin B. Glassco Foundation for Children; a charity in Africa that helps with water, food, education and housing.

“Laurier is in the top [position], if they keep up the good work, I definitely think they have a chance,” Robertson said, prior to the end of the competition. “Before the competition, after the competition, our ultimate goal is that this microvolunteering community is up and going and rolls on its own.”

While this specific competition is good for both microvolunteering and Laurier, both Robertson and Cameron expressed that the overall goal is to continue pushing microvolunteering because it is so easy to do.

“It doesn’t replace traditional volunteering, for me that’s the greatest thing about it. Microvolunteering actually compliments traditional volunteering, it’s a new tool for the non-profits, to be able to get some help,” Robertson said.

“There is no need to travel and its really flexible to your schedule, it really caters to volunteers.”

Students can easily sign up to become a volunteer while still maintaining schoolwork and extra-curricular activities since microvolunteering doesn’t require a lot of time.

Sarah Taylor, a fourth year student at Laurier, who wasn’t part of microvolunteering, believes it is good cause.

“It’s easier and makes volunteering more convenient,” Taylor stated.  “More people would be open to it.”

Regardless of the outcome, Cameron stated that he is satisfied with the hard work and dedication of the team.

“It was a great experience,” he said.

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