Expanding the reach of online volunteers
01 December 2008
Online Volunteering service website on International Volunteer Day 2008. The newly multilingual site enables organizations to connect with volunteers better than ever.
Online volunteering allows anyone with internet access to contribute to development. Development organizations can thus find volunteers across the globe who provide technical expertise and freely share their skills over the internet.
The UNV Online Volunteering service website has been upgraded to increase its reach and ease its use by people with special access needs. The site is now available in Spanish and French as well as in English and complies with international accessibility standards.
The clear design and intuitive navigation of the site, as well as the knowledge and resources it offers, will further help development organizations find suitable online volunteers. The new website was financially supported by Irish Aid.
Organizations simply register with the Online Volunteering service, and after initial checks by UNV they are free to post assignments for which they seek volunteer support. Online volunteers then apply directly, allowing development organizations to select the most qualified candidates themselves.
UNV Executive Coordinator Ms. Flavia Pansieri believes that the UNV Online Volunteering service is an innovative way of making volunteerism even more inclusive. "It expands options for people to volunteer towards peace and development, as it abolishes physical and time barriers,” she explained. “Online volunteers are an important source of knowledge and capacity who support development and enhance the capacity of partner organizations to reach their goals.”
Organizations that have used the original UNV Online Volunteering service site testify to the impact of online volunteers. In Afghanistan, the Bureau for Reconstruction and Development asked online volunteers to develop their website, newsletter, annual report and other communications materials. "We are receiving many offers from other organizations for partnership and collaboration, when they visit our website," said Programme Director Khan Agha Dawoodzai. "Online volunteers have helped us to be linked to the world."
“We are a small team," said Armelle Armou, a Programme Officer with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). "Online volunteers took part in our team and contributed to the success of the Open Training Platform."
Online volunteers helped Lawyers Without Borders, a US-based NGO, during its formation. Founder Director Christina Storm remarked: "It would be hard to truly estimate where Lawyers Without Borders might be, were it not for online volunteers."
There are more than 1,000 organizations currently registered with the UNV Online Volunteering service, and 2,800 online volunteers complete about 3,800 assignments every year. Online volunteers come from 184 different countries (46 percent from developing countries): more than 60 percent are women.