How to Get Involved with Virtual Volunteering was originally published on Idealist Careers.
Want to make a difference from the comfort of your own couch? Whether you’re passionate about environmental conservation, reproductive rights, or alleviating worldwide hunger, there’s probably a virtual volunteer opportunity out there for you.
Many of us are a year into working from home—and we’ve had to put many of our in-person volunteering activities on hold. But plenty of nonprofit organizations are utilizing the help of virtual volunteers. And in today’s society, where many of us are working full-time jobs, raising families, and trying to spend some time on self-care, this evolution of the volunteer space makes it easier than ever for you to fit volunteer work into your already-busy schedule. If you have even a couple of hours to spare, you can support a cause you’re passionate about.
First things first! Take some time to review the latest remote opportunities available on Idealist.org. If you want to expand your search a bit, here are a few more places to look.
Established virtual volunteer programs
Many large organizations now offer formal online volunteer programs and opportunities. Here are a few:
- United Nations: The UN runs a virtual program connecting volunteers to organizations worldwide. About 12,000 volunteers are connected with public-impact opportunities in 187 countries. You can help with writing and editing, translation, technology services, research, and advocacy, to name a few, and there is a variety of short and longer-term opportunities.
- Red Cross: During times of disaster, the Red Cross utilizes digital volunteers to monitor online discussions to find people who need help, and to share important updates on social media. If you are active on Facebook and Twitter, this could be a great opportunity for you.
- Smithsonian Institute: If you’re passionate about education and interested in history, science, or anthropology, the Smithsonian Institute has some great opportunities. Virtual volunteers help with two main projects: transcribing historical documents and updating relevant Wikipedia pages.
Share your story
Another way to volunteer without leaving your house is by sharing your personal story with nonprofits or advocacy campaigns.
Think about what you are passionate about, and what you may have overcome in your life. Your story may convince someone to make a donation or help somebody dealing with similar struggles. And once you share your story you may even find that it helps you, too.
Are you a cancer survivor? Have you dealt with mental health issues? Do you own rescue animals? If you’re passionate about a cause, chances are you have a story to tell about how that particular cause has impacted your life.
Reach out to organizations and ask if you can help by sharing your story. If you’re not sure who to contact, trying connecting with someone in development or communications.
Take online action
If you have just a few minutes and you want to make an impact, it is easy to take an action online. Many nonprofit advocacy groups have links to email legislators right on their websites. But you can do this on your own, too.
Follow all of your legislators (think county, city, school district, and state as well as your federal representatives) on social media. If there’s an issue you are passionate about, tag them in Tweets or on Facebook when you are advocating.
Facebook makes this really easy. Check out the relatively new Town Hall function, and you can find your local, state, and federal representatives and contact them.
You can also get apps for your phone or tablet that allow you to track votes and contact your legislator with one press of a button. Check out Vote Spotter, for example. Or go straight to the web and visit Democracy.io, a site powered by nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation that will connect you with your representative.
The smaller nonprofits in your area may not have formal virtual volunteer projects, but that doesn’t mean they can’t use the help.
Again, check on Idealist.org for volunteer listings first. If nothing catches your eye, reach out directly to the organization you are interested in and ask about virtual volunteer opportunities. If you have a special skill, such as coding, graphic design, or writing, let them know. Many organizations are happy to have the help and will gladly work with you to find a project that fits your interests and skills.
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About the Author | Samantha Fredrickson has worked in communications and nonprofit advocacy for more than a decade. She has spent much of her career advocating for the rights of vulnerable populations. She has degrees from the University of Nevada, Reno and New York Law School.