Mobile + Micro-Volunteering

11 Society, Civil Society, Gift Intelligence, microfinancing, Mobile, Non-Governmental

It seems as though we’ve also entered a phase of “micro”. From micro-phones and micro-processors to micro-loans, micro-giving, micro-blogging, and  micro-volunteering. (How will “nano” fit into this?)

Problem:
73% of Americans do not volunteer (2007 US Dept Labor).
Root Cause:
Most volunteer opportunities require vetting, many hours, and a long-term commitment. It’s akin to a second job. For most people, the process is inconvenient, takes too much time, and doesn’t easily fit into hectic lives.Our Theory of Change: Americans have spare time – billions of hours – but in small windows of idle moments: sitting in an airport, waiting in a doctor’s office, riding the bus to work, and more. If we can reach people during these spare moments we harness a huge pool of untapped human energy.To harness micro spare time we must reach people via mobile, but until recently, mobile phones were limited.

The arrival of smartphones like iPhone (with Internet, graphics, camera, GPS, video, audio, and more) created enormous possibilities. 115 million smartphones were sold in 2007 with projections of 700 million by 2012 (WashPost, Aug 2008).The Extraordinaries is smartphone software that allows millions of volunteers to perform tasks on their smartphones in just a few minutes. We make volunteering feel like a video game to encourage repetition and competition. People login to our system from any place on Earth within cell reception, and constructively use small windows of spare time for science, medicine, nonprofits, government, and more. Nearly anything you do on a regular computer you can do on a smartphone.

You can help:
-Translate micro-finance loan applications (Kiva).
-Transcribe subtitles for human rights videos (Witness).
-Immigrants improve their English (Phone ESL).

(I’m sure you can think of many more possibilities)

Also see this list from Time Magazine