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What You Need to Know About Virtual Volunteering

Virtual volunteering takes place online, providing unprecedented access to a wide range of opportunities without the confines of geography. We’ll tell you everything you know to start assisting remotely, including where to find the best opportunities for you. 

Nov 09, 2020

The internet has revolutionized virtually every aspect of modern life, and volunteering is no exception. While some opportunities still require an in-person commitment, this alternative allows people to simply leverage computers to support communities in need.

Virtual volunteering takes place online, providing unprecedented access to a wide range of opportunities without the confines of geography. We’ll tell you everything you know to start assisting remotely, including where to find the best opportunities for you.

Why Volunteer Virtually?

Find Causes You’re Passionate About

Virtual volunteering makes it easier to find a cause you’re passionate about. When you do so in person, you may be limited by which organizations are within commuting distance, but modern technology opens up opportunities all over the world.

Enjoy Flexibility

Since virtual (or remote) volunteers work from their computers, they can theoretically contribute from wherever they want, whether that’s at the office, sitting on the couch, or sipping an espresso in a cafe. Many online opportunities are also flexible with scheduling, allowing you to put in hours when it’s most convenient.

Use Your Most Valuable Skills

With traditional nonprofit work, you may not have much control over which skills you use. Logging on virtually often makes it easier to focus on exercising one particular skill, allowing you to hone your craft.

Build Your Resume

Digital volunteering not only looks good on a resume, but it can also show you have the necessary transferable skills. For instance, you might struggle to break into web design if you don’t have professional experience in the field, but this type of experience could help fill that gap in your resume.

How Virtual Volunteering Helps Nonprofits

Reduced Operating Expenses

If a nonprofit organization can’t find someone local to fill their needs, they may be forced to hire from elsewhere. This gives nonprofits access to a much larger pool of candidates, potentially making it easier to find the right candidate.

Access to More Qualified Volunteers

Many nonprofit organizations rely on people offering their free time to pitch in wherever they can, but some tasks require specialized skills. Accepting online help opens the talent pool to more well-qualified candidates to contact should a need arise.

What to Look For in a Virtual Volunteer Position

Time Commitment

Many of these positions expect a consistent time commitment. Assessing how much of your time you’re able to expend before accepting a position can help ensure it fits your schedule long term.

Expectations

Both you and the nonprofit organization likely have expectations about the nature of the work you’ll do, when you’ll do it, and what you hope to gain from the relationship. To ensure these goals and expectations are aligned, you may need to discuss the position with representatives from the organization.

Required Skills

What skills do you need to perform the task? Understanding the required skills will clarify if you can perform the work effectively using your existing talents.

Reputation

Myriad organizations seek these positions. While many are reputable, others are not. You may even find for-profit companies requesting a “volunteer” to perform work for free. That’s why it’s important to look into the organization’s reputation. If you’re going to commit your time and efforts to such a laudable endeavor, you should be confident your contribution will help make a difference.

Where to Find Virtual Volunteer Opportunities

Be My Eyes

Be My Eyes is one of the easiest ways to assist when and where it’s convenient for you. This app uses a video call to connect those who are blind or have limited vision with sighted individuals. Those who are interested can help with everyday tasks, such as reading expiration dates, digital displays, and product labels.

Amara

Amara is looking for subtitlers to make internet content more accessible by adding subtitles, translations, and/or captions.

Idealist

Idealist is a portal full of opportunities with nonprofit organizations around the world. You can filter by positions, skills, issue areas, and digital status.

VolunteerMatch

VolunteerMatch lists thousands of remote opportunities neatly organized by interest area, including hunger, LGBTQ+, race & ethnicity, arts & culture, and more.

Catchafire

Catchafire can help you find opportunities on a project basis without a long-term commitment. Some projects last for just an hour, while others take several weeks.

Create the Good

Powered by AARP, this search engine filters results for home-based options. Since many of the positions are with local organizations, you can help your community without leaving home.

AllforGood

AllforGood is a platform from Points of Light. This hub pulls listings from other sites to condense a range of opportunities into one easy-to-use database.

UN Volunteers

This program let’s you gain global experience through UN Volunteers. These positions are comparable to actual jobs, with a thorough application process and a weekly workload.

Smithsonian

The Smithsonian seeks online recruits to help in several areas, including transcription, collecting information, and contributing Wikipedia content.

Grow Movement

Grow Movement volunteers mentor African entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses. To be eligible, you must have business qualifications and agree to complete 12 mentoring sessions per entrepreneur.

Written by Meredith Kreisa

Meredith Kreisa is a Senior Inbound Content Developer at Morey Creative Studios.

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