Volunteering is a wonderful gesture that enriches your community and the world around you. Unfortunately, many remote workers—even perennial volunteers—aren’t aware of the vast amount of virtual volunteer opportunities available.
But all is not lost. If you’re looking to give something back this holiday season or sometime during the year, you may be surprised at the sheer amount of chances to contribute. Through a variety of nonprofit and charitable organizations, remote workers can provide a desirable service to those that need it most.
Virtual Volunteer Opportunities Through Organizations and Charities
Just like pre-COVID volunteering, virtual volunteer opportunities are rife within local, state, national, and international groups. Unfortunately, many of these organizations are struggling to find volunteers amid the COVID pandemic. But the silver lining is that you can put your skills and expertise to use. Here are a few ideas to get back into volunteering while you work from home.
Reaching Out to Local Organizations
Finding volunteer opportunities with large national or multinational corporations is perhaps the most streamlined way to find a volunteering position. But sometimes, it’s your own community that needs you the most.
Elizabeth Harrin, director of GirlsGuidetoPM, an education and mentoring site for project managers, advocates reaching out to local organizations for volunteer opportunities.
“I’m a project manager, and our professional body used to organize regular networking and learning events, plus annual conferences. All of that has had to move online, and a lot of the events are organized by volunteers. One way to volunteer in an online capacity would be to reach out to the local branch or chapter of your professional body, chamber of commerce, or equivalent and offer to volunteer with supporting the setup and administration of online events.Elizabeth Harrin, Director, GirlsGuidetoPM
Let’s face it: learning how to pivot from in-person evening seminars to a totally online program for members is a different skill set! Whether you love spreading the word on social networks or can do the technical hosting on the day, I’m sure many groups would be happy to have an extra pair of hands.”
Nearly every nonprofit has been affected by COVID. Some have had to cut back on spending while others have nixed volunteer opportunities in an onsite capacity. But organizations like CatchaFire.org are looking to match skilled workers with charities that need them the most.
Thanks to Ajmal Dar, the proprietor of a shoe review website known as Moccasin Guru, you can learn exactly how the process works. Essentially, CatchaFire works as a job board or volunteer opportunity aggregator, putting all the opportunities on one site. Dar has lent his time to CatchaFire in the past and shares his experience about his volunteering:
“You will be presented with hundreds of options to volunteer virtually. It could be by answering emails, fundraising, simple editing, and many more. The project may last for an hour, or it could be week-long. You can choose what you think you are capable of doing. You will gain experience and new friends (fellow volunteers). It’s fulfilling to you know you have done something good for others, even if you are just at home.”Ajmal Dar, Owner, Moccasin Guru
United Nations Charitable Subsidiaries and the Red Cross
As two of the largest charitable companies in the world, both the Red Cross and the UN’s charitable subsidiaries are always on the hunt for volunteering talent. Thanks to a tip from Aaron Simmons, owner of a test prep site called TestPrepGenie.com, becoming a virtual volunteer is easier than you may have thought.
“The United Nations (UN) has an online portal that allows online volunteers to search for specific skills such as writing, teaching, research, advocacy, and many more. You can search for current opportunities and see what sparks your interest. Maybe you can try issues impacting youth and children (the most frequently posted opportunities on their list).Aaron Simmons, Owner, TestPrepGenie.com
You can also virtually volunteer for the Red Cross. Volunteers for the Red Cross help monitor online conversations with those affected by the COVID and then share these resources through social media. It doesn’t require anything to join, just a computer and basic knowledge of social media.
Bottom line: You don’t need to be rich to help. A little effort goes a long way and could mean a lot to those impacted by it. Volunteer virtually and be a hero by saving lives especially during these days with the COVID pandemic.”
Creative Ways to Volunteer Virtually
Rural and even suburban remote workers may not have local chapters or organizations that require their services. Furthermore, even places that used to hire volunteers have put their operations on hold during COVID. Thus, finding virtual volunteer opportunities requires a bit of extra creativity.
Mollie Newton, editor and founder of PetMeTwice, a pet care website, has a unique way to build a better tomorrow, even if you can’t volunteer directly.
“One of our team’s struggles has been that we all work remotely and many of our team members are not even on the same continent. This makes it hard to do any kind of outreach as a group, particularly to enhance our CSR (corporate social responsibility) reputation. One of the ways that we do this is to take pledges.Mollie Newton, Editor and Founder, PetMeTwice
Pledges are a great way to create hype around a movement—not only internally, but within our audience, too. Pledges can take any form, from committing to recycling and tracking progress online or even to go text free while driving. This may not be volunteering to an NPO (nonprofit organization) directly, but to a cause or movement that shows the same level, if not more, commitment from an organization to improve the world around them.”
Using Your Expertise
If you’re striking out on volunteer opportunities, remember that you have a skill set that might be highly coveted by other people. For those that have graduate degrees, law degrees, or medical degrees, this is most often the case. Therefore, you can lend your services to those who can’t afford them.
Featured on Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, HuffPost, Reader’s Digest, and other publications, Anna Barker did just that. Once a lawyer, Barker now runs a website called Logical Dollar, providing individual financial advice for consumers. Although she doesn’t currently practice law, she’s seen numerous opportunities to volunteer:
“I’ve worked as a lawyer for around nine years. During this period of remote working, I have seen messages from several pro bono legal clinics regarding virtual sessions they are holding with clients. These sessions involve lawyers volunteering to meet with people who may not be able to afford paid legal advice to assist them for free.Anna Barker, Founder, Logical Dollar
These are usually done in-person however, given the circumstances, these have now shifted to a virtual setting. It’s proven to be a great way for my legal colleagues and me to continue volunteering, despite not being able to meet face-to-face with the people we can help.”
Virtual Volunteer Opportunities for the Entire Family
If you’re searching for virtual volunteer opportunities for your entire family, you’re in luck. Numerous organizations put the skills of your family to use in a variety of ways. So whether you have a couple of teens or younger children, you can teach your kids the value and satisfaction of volunteer work.
Points of Light
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Points of Light is an organization that provides mentoring to at-risk youth in South Africa. During virtual meetings, you can talk with these youngsters about various topics, all directed toward providing them with a better tomorrow.
Kids can teach a ton of life lessons, and so can seniors. Through StoriiTime, both parties can enjoy each other’s company while also bonding across generations. StoriiTime is a 100% virtual volunteering opportunity that provides kids and adults to read stories to each other. Directed mainly at shut-ins, seniors with debilitating health issues, or seniors without families, this program aims to improve the quality of life of people through social interaction.
Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes is a free app for Android and iOS that pairs blind or low-vision individuals with those who can see. As a volunteer, you’ll receive notices from blind individuals who need help checking out an expiration date, reading instructions, or guiding them through a new environment. Volunteers will get a notice on their phone and then be connected to the individual in need. This allows anyone in your family to lend a hand, even if you need to supervise.
Sewing Masks for Those in Need
COVID has necessitated masks for nearly every jurisdiction throughout the country. But as the demand for masks has increased, so have prices. In Oct. 2020, a pack of 50 masks totaled $35. That’s a huge chunk of change for many people throughout the country. And that’s where your family can help. Put your entire family together sewing masks for those in need. With an assembly line process, you can pump out dozens of masks for those who need them most. Team up with organizations such as Project Sunshine or the United Way to pass along the fruits of your labor.
Volunteering is a way to improve your own community and the lives of others. But it’s also a way benefit your family and career, and also build other skills and qualities. Through volunteering, you can make new friends, expand your social network, build your resume, and ultimately, make the world a better place.
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