Virtual volunteering: Using the power of the Internet to help others

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The word “volunteer” has many pleasant connotations. Images of people coming together to hold bake sales, clean the parks, or build homes for the under-privileged come to mind. But what of those who are unable to leave their homes but still want to help others?

Virtual volunteering allows those who cannot physically volunteer to help an organization by completing tasks online. The only requirements are an Internet connection and a computer or other Internet-connected device.

Who can volunteer virtually?

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Anyone can volunteer online, but virtual volunteering will most likely appeal most to those who:

• Live in an area where transportation to the organization’s offices is difficult or impractical
• Work full-time and have limited time to spare for volunteering daily
• Have disabilities that make it difficult or impractical for them to volunteer physically
• Are busy with home and family responsibilities
• Want to help an organization located out of state or abroad

What types of tasks can a virtual volunteer do?

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Virtual volunteers can perform a variety of roles and accomplish many tasks to help further an organization’s goals. Some examples are:

• Designing posters, flyers, and other visual aids
• Writing blogs, press releases, and articles
• Administrative work for the organization’s social media accounts
• Mentoring a young person through chat, e-mail, or webcam

Which organizations accept online volunteers?

Oxfam, the United Nations Online Volunteering Program, and the Red Cross are just a few examples of organizations that offer virtual volunteering opportunities. Database websites, like VolunteerMatch, can help a potential virtual volunteer find a position that best suits his or her experience, skills, and level of commitment.

Volunteers who can be physically present when needed are still very important to the life of charitable and humanitarian organizations, but the skills and experience that online volunteers can offer are also needed and greatly appreciated.

Randy Wooten is a musician and philanthropist. Subscribe to this blog to learn more about volunteering and making a difference.


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