How "virtual volunteering" can help you change the world anytime, anywhere
Volunteers are vital to a successful community, but often, volunteering means a good deal of outdoor work or traveling to the volunteer location: reading to children at a library, caring for homeless animals at your local animal shelter, or cooking up a storm at a drop-in center for homeless youth and underemployed folks. If you’re someone who is able to do these things, that’s great!
But if you are experiencing mobility issues, or you don’t have time because of work and/or family obligations, or you simply prefer not venturing out in certain weather (like me), then “virtual volunteering” could be perfect for you.
Technological advancements mean you now have the opportunity to volunteer your time and skills with little effort beyond logging on. And you can do it all from the comfort of your own home or favorite coffee shop (or even poolside!).
Join the growing trend of online volunteers in areas that include communications and language instruction, computer and technical support, curriculum development, research, writing, graphic design, advocacy, and more.
Here are some ways to get started:
1Go on VolunteerMatch.org
VolunteerMatch can help you find the perfect volunteer-from-home opportunity, matching you based on your location and skills.
2Become a grant writer.
Do you have a business background and a way with words? Consider helping charitable or advocacy organizations apply for much-needed grant money. Your writing skills will not only help fund a cause you care deeply about, but you’ll also learn new and exciting things that can help further your career. Lots of organizations need help with grant writing.
3Mentor someone over the phone.
Love business? MicroMentor connects experienced business leaders with entrepreneurs for mentorship. Mentor and mentee chat on the phone to get to know one another and then start setting goals – and reaching them.
4Help immigrants learn English.
Canadian-based English Online connects new immigrants struggling to master English with fluent English speakers for ESL tutoring one-on-one.
5Put your social media and graphic design skills to good use.
Interested in helping establish sustainable livelihoods, and empowering people and their communities? Check out Cuso International for e-volunteering opportunities in Peru (Social Media Advisor), Cameroon (Web Designer), Bolivia (Youth Employability Advisor), and more.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry — HelpFromHome can help you find “bite-sized good deeds” around the globe, some requiring as little at one minute of your time, like signing a petition or sending a child in the hospital a mood-lifting postcard.
As the saying goes, time is money. In 2013, more than 62 million adult volunteers nationwide donated almost 7.7 billion hours of charitable service – a donation worth $173 billion. And with Millennials (75.4 million) surpassing Baby Boomers (74.9 million) as the nation’s largest generation — imagine what the Millennial volunteering force will mean to non-profits.
You can volunteer where and when you want.
Because of the global reach of virtual volunteering, you aren’t limited to a Monday-Friday 9-5 scenario. If you’re a night owl and prefer to volunteer in the wee hours of the morning (when it’s mid-day in Asia), language instruction might be a perfect match.
If you live in a remote area, virtual volunteering can especially help you build a bridge to the world beyond your local neighborhood. And it can be a great way to experience global customs, habits, and if you’re anything like me – a new recipe or two, at your convenience.
At the end of the day, if you want to be involved, chances are there’s an online way for your to do so.
If you can’t find your favorite charity listed on VolunteerMatch, don’t despair. Call them and ask if they have any remote volunteer opportunities. They may not have considered virtual volunteering before – think outside the box and you’ll find new ways to contribute: Can you help them fundraise by calling donors? Is their blog in desperate need of a new post? Could you email your local newspaper and fill them in on an upcoming event?
With a little effort and investigation, you can find the perfect virtual volunteering opportunity for your situation.