Why Micro-volunteering Works

December 5th was International Volunteer Day, and in honour Koodonation is entering active micro-volunteers in a raffle to win $10,000 for the charity of their choice all through the month of December.

What's micro-volunteering? It's a new form of charitable engagement designed for a younger, busier, more media literate generation. You sign up as a volunteer from home, list your skills, and are assigned small tasks from non-profit agencies that fit those skills, which you can also do from home. The idea is to introduce a new and active demographic to quicker, more versatile ways to volunteer. Ways that spread their skills, not their actual bodies.

Adam Hummel explained everything from his office at Bay and Adelaide. Adam's a civil litigator from Toronto, a philanthropist from South Africa, and a tribe elder from Kenya. We talked about his micro-volunteering partnership with Koodonation and his charitable organization, Youth Ambassadors for Peace.

Youth Ambassadors For Peace started in Kenya in 2008 as a peace project. At that time much of Kenya was still rocking from recent civil conflicts, and the community Adam was there to help was a hotspot for tribal violence. The charity that he started focuses on youth empowerment through education and the promotion of charitable action. Currently Adam holds it down in Toronto while young Kenyan members of the organization stimulate awareness and run projects like their self-sustained chicken farm. Half of the eggs produced are sold to keep the farm up, while the other half go to those in the area recently diagnosed with HIV. More than nutrients, all involved get a sense of community and care.

Right now YAFP has a brand challenge on Koodonation geared toward designers. Just like the charity that stimulates empowerment and perspective through charity itself, Koodonation's micro-volunteering initiative wants to create a new way for people to help each other in systems of mutual benefit.

“Guaranteed this generation has a shorter attention span” Adam says, speaking on the target demographic, “but they're better with media, and I think they genuinely want to help.”

“If we have the ability, we have the duty” he continues, quoting National Treasure. Young people in the first world are in a position to help, and micro-volunteering provides the means where there was a void before. You can make a banner for a website, write an article, or just talk to people—whatever you want.

Koodonation's format requires less on the ground interaction than a classic charity, but can trigger just as much growth in perspective, which is both the benefit and the backbone of a creation like Youth Ambassadors for Peace. Perspective is about abstraction, a view from above, and that's what Koodonation offers: a vista on a new, globalized network of charitable effect. Ironic that a program that allows aid from abstraction actually works to bring people together. Something comfortable that can push you out of your comfort zone.

The beauty of the program is its limited time constraints and its use of the resources you provide. No longer do you have to focus on one charity, or never help anyone because you can't decide which one to choose.

“I hate the theres-too-much-why-even-try attitude” the civil litigator says, looking down from his office at 'a lot of work.' “Yes, we suffer disaster fatigue, and its difficult to remain positive, but where you see problems you can see potential. I try to think of myself as an idealistic realist.”

It takes little increments of effort to erode larger problems, but these problems can be solved, and the possibility to do so lies within them. Spread yourself out, and be more efficient.

“It's not just the first world that can help” continues the young lawyer, hammering home the idea of a real, engaged, cross-contextual conversation. He explains that people in the third world that he's met are very much aware in how low their quality of life can be, and are working to help themselves. Like the chicken farm that required an initial injection of capitol but then became self-sustained, we can work toward mutual benefit as long as we just start. “It can be as selfish as you want it to be” Adam says. Charity is for us. We can't be in tribes any longer.

Check out Youth Ambassadors for Peace and Adam's Book, Amadi Haki Yetu: Peace is our Right, all of the proceeds to which fund Ambassadors. And go to Koodonation to help yourself.


Tags: Adam Hummel, International Volunteer Day, Koodonation, Micro-volunteering, Self-help

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