Volunteering is a great first step towards accepting responsibility for the future we leave behind. Committing your time, and energy, to help others is extremely rewarding, while it’s also highly commended. What’s more, it can be beneficial if you’re struggling professionally since it offers valuable work experience and it can also help boost your skill set.
The problem that many professionals face is that they don’t have time to commit to volunteer work, and this is where online volunteering comes in. This type of voluntary work can be carried out from home and it’s ideal if you have specialised skills you’d like to put to good work and a busy schedule.
Online Volunteering Benefits
Volunteering abroad is definitely more fun than volunteering from home because you get to see the world, experience different cultures and actively participate in pain relief and/or life improvement. Unfortunately, however, volunteering abroad can be costly and it’s also extremely time-demanding. Therefore, while it’s great for young people, it can be impossible for older professionals who have a job to put everything on hold in order to go volunteering across the world. The same goes for most volunteering opportunities closer to home as they usually have their own time restrictions which will most likely interfere with your work schedule and other responsibilities.
This is where virtual volunteering comes in, as it allows people to do good but in their own spare time. So, if you have kids or care for elderly people, for example, there’s a good chance you’ll only have a few spare hours at night and by then your options are pretty limited.
Another benefit of online volunteering is that it allows people with restricted mobility and/or special needs the opportunity to help others.
So, online volunteering is ideal if you’re someone who:
- Can’t fully commit
- Has a very busy schedule
- Has restricted mobility or other special needs
- Experiences social anxiety when outside
Online volunteering can be very empowering, as it allows you to use your skills to do good. Online volunteers often feel more self-confident, while they also get to boost their skills.
Online Volunteering Opportunities
1. UN Volunteers (UNV)
The UNV programme is the United Nations’ online volunteering platform and offers dozens of online opportunities across the world. Like the rest of the UN’s efforts, this programme strives to boost sustainable human development, and finding a project through this platform means that you’ll be able to do truly meaningful work.
The best part about the UNV website, however, is that it’s very easy to use, and finding an opportunity that fits your needs is literally child’s play. You can start by choosing the sector you’d like to work in – translation or teaching, for example – and you can then navigate through the various opportunities generated to find something that fits your needs.
2. Help from Home
Help from Home is a UK-based organisation which aims to bring together volunteers and micro-volunteering projects. The goal here is to encourage more and more people to participate in projects that do not require long-term commitment and which can help make their spare time more impactful.
This platform is very user-friendly and will help you navigate through their many virtual volunteering opportunities. The best feature, however, has to be the ‘pyjama rating’ that is listed with every opportunity so that you’ll know if you can do them in your pyjamas.
VolunteerMatch is an extremely popular organisation for volunteering opportunities. Although they don’t offer online opportunities exclusively, they have a pretty broad section for people who want to volunteer from home. This organisation is driven by the belief that everyone wants to make a difference in the world and that all people need is a platform from which to make it happen.
Their opportunities range from writing emails, newsletters, etc for non-profits to teaching musical instruments and designing websites. You can start by selecting a cause that interests you and then filter the results generated by ‘Virtual’ to get results that match your needs.
4. Create the Good
Create the Good is an organisation that aims to help those who are interested in helping others and want to give back but can’t do so by being physically present. The idea is to get those with extremely busy schedules or those caring for others (children, seniors, etc) to have a platform from where they can offer their services.
There are many opportunities available and, depending on your skill set, you are sure to find something that not only fits your skills but also makes you passionate for the cause. There are myriads of options available for people who can write or who can offer free legal advice, while there’s also a crisis hotline which you can staff if you want to help in a more hands-on manner.
Do-It is the national volunteering database with over a million opportunities available. It’s also a platform which thousands of people trust, although you should note that the majority of the opportunities available in this database are for local work. However, it also offers many online volunteering opportunities, as well.
All you need to do to find a virtual volunteering opportunity is to filter search by ‘do-it from home’. You can then filter by ‘most recently updated’ to make sure that you are focusing on opportunities that are still in need of help.
Catchafire identifies itself as a community that strives to promote the social good sector. Their goal is to make volunteering as efficient and effective as possible by matching talented individuals with organisations that are in need of their specific skill set. They value results and, as such, only work with non-profits that have what they call a ‘demonstrable impact’.
You can search their database in a fairly straightforward way. Start by choosing ‘what you’re good at’ and then filter the results by ‘online’ or ‘virtual’. If your time is really limited, you may want to check out their ‘1h phone calls’.
7. School in the Cloud
The School in the Cloud is driven by the belief that knowledge can be acquired so long as there are enough resources to encourage the self-learning process. As such, they’re dedicated to providing a space for children from all around the world where they have internet access to search for specific information, aka the big questions.
The big questions are asked by volunteers (aka the Grannies) who interact with students via Skype and ask the children to find answers and solutions to problems that will help them gain valuable knowledge. The children are encouraged to work in groups and move about freely, while Grannies provide any kind of support the children require, remotely.
8. Missing Maps
Missing Maps is an initiative to map areas which are, up until now, unchartered. Volunteers are asked to map some of the most vulnerable areas on Earth so that crisis teams can respond whenever there’s a crisis in a more efficient way. Helping this organisation and its partners (which includes the Red Cross) is as simple as looking at satellite images on your computer and then adding buildings and roads to maps. There’s information on the organisation’s website on how to edit maps and you’ll have lots of support throughout the process.
Volunteering online is not just a way to test your skills but also the responsible thing to do with your spare time. As privileged and educated people, it’s our responsibility to help those in need and it can also be extremely rewarding to know that you’re doing good. These projects will not interfere with your work hours or other responsibilities, so they can definitely be accommodated into your life.
Let me know which project would suit your personality and skills in the comments section below.