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Natural Awakenings

Micro-Volunteering: Devoting Idle Moments to Good Deeds

Nov 01, 2009 02:00AM

Online “crowdsourcing,” so useful to in gathering information for its free encyclopedia, is set to benefit other types of nonprofits as well, thanks to an iPhone app piloted by The Extraordinaries, out of San Francisco. The idea is to get people to volunteer whenever it is convenient. Currently, on-demand volunteers simply tap in to participate in a nonprofit project such as tagging photos for museums or photographing neighborhood play areas to help create a nationwide map of playgrounds.

As the program expands, people who want to do more can find out when and where to show up to support a local community program. The Extraordinaries envision smart-phone volunteers nationwide eventually translating documents, tutoring students, collecting citizen-scientist data and even reporting potholes and other municipal problems. Down the road, volunteers might even read through congressional bills to uncover hidden “pork,” or help fact-check news reports.

“If you can imagine the possibilities of what 100,000 people with a few minutes can do,” says CEO Jacob Colker, “it’s really incredible.”

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

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