19 October 2005
If you have access to a computer and the Internet coupled with the right skills then you should consider volunteering online. There are many organizations that are tapping into this method. Your roles as online volunteer can range from giving free legal advice to NGOs in developing countries to building nonprofit websites.
Your skills could be a programming knowledge, good writing ability, experience in project management, knowledge of another language, expertise in law or education or another profession, or simply the time to offer expert advice or answer email for the host organization. Online volunteering is perfect if you have limited time or no transportation, and also opens up exciting opportunities for disabled volunteers.
Online volunteers undertake a variety of assignments for organizations: translations, research, web design, data analysis, database construction, proposal writing, editing articles, online mentoring, publication design, moderating an online discussion group, or any other services that can be done through computer networks.
Online volunteering provides organizations with new volunteers, new and additional talent and skills, and a more diverse volunteer base. It also helps promote organizations and their mission to a much broader audience.
Benefits of online volunteering
For individuals, there are many appeals to online volunteering. You learn about other countries, and learn about issues faced by the developing world. You can exercise skills you are learning in school or for your workplace. Online volunteering allows you to take on roles and responsibilities your professional work may not provide. It may allow an expatriate to reconnect with and provide help to his or her homeland. As online volunteer you can provide service at whatever time of day is convenient, without having to change clothes, drive a car or ride a bus somewhere, look for a parking place or find a place to stay for the evening. Online volunteering offers you a really convenient way to make a difference.
For organizations, online volunteers have skills and expertise that these organizations may not have, or that they need to supplement the work of onsite volunteers. Online volunteers help organizations stretch their onsite resources even further and to serve more clients. These volunteers may have sophisticated hardware or software an organization serving a developing country lacks.
Online volunteering allows for the participation of people who find onsite volunteering difficult or impossible because of a disability, home obligation, transportation difficulties or work schedule; this in turn allows agencies to benefit from the additional talent and resources of more volunteers. Online volunteers don't require physical accommodations, and don't generate car exhausts or other pollutants as a result of their service!
Online volunteering is not meant as a replacement for face-to-face volunteering, and most individuals and organizations don't choose it over onsite service. Online volunteering also is not meant to take away paid positions at an organization. Online volunteering is meant to help build the capacity of staff at an organization, as well as those that the organization serves. Online volunteering is just another way for people from various walks of life, all over the world, to connect with each other and be part of the Global Village.
Are you ready to volunteer online?
This should be the FIRST document you read if you are considering online volunteering.
Keys to success for online volunteers
Basic guidelines for online volunteers. If you are going to try online volunteering, or if you are already engaged in such, this is a must read.
Virtual volunteering resources
This collection of resources on ServiceLeader.org will benefit online volunteers as well as volunteer managers and service leaders who are interested in utilizing technology to benefit their organizations.
WEBSITES OFFERING ONLINE VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES
Online Volunteering service: Online Volunteering, an Internet service provided by United Nations Volunteers, connects development organizations with volunteers from around the world. Since its inception in 2000, Online Volunteers have supported - by completing more than 10,000 online assignments - some 800 organizations in developing countries in their mission to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Interconnection: Recruits volunteers with computer skills to help NGOs and charities.
VolunteerMatch: Search for virtual volunteering opportunities worldwide.