If You Can’t Help in Person, Be an Online Volunteer

Suppose you are homebound because you have a sick relative to care for or are unable to get out of your house yourself. Maybe you just spend too much time at work and with family commitments to get out and support a cause you believe in. There’s good news: you can be an online volunteer and support causes you believe in from the comfort of your own home. You just have to find email address of the official website of your favorite NGO and you can connect with them in order to learn more about the possibilities of being an Online volunteer. 

There are too many examples of online volunteers to list them all in one article. Some examples are: conducting online research for an organization, such as gathering information for a grant proposal; providing professional consulting expertise; posting information to various online communities; translating a document into another language; designing a newsletter; researching and writing articles for newsletters, newsletters, and websites; proofreading for online publications; preparing information for a company’s website; sending e-mails to someone who is homebound; providing online mentoring; providing English instruction; and many others.

You may know you want to be an online volunteer because you can’t help in person. You wonder how to find where the opportunities are and what opportunities are available. According to Jason Willett, the director of communications for VolunteerMatch, an online database of volunteer jobs, the number of online volunteer opportunities is increasing dramatically. In 1998, the year the organization’s website, www.Volunteermatch.org, debuted; a total of 3,000 people became online volunteers through the site, compared to 40,000 in 2005.

According to Willett, organizations are realizing they can save space in-house by using online volunteers, and they can take advantage of people who skills who may not be available in their own communities. In addition, using online volunteers allows the space that is saved to be used by an in-person volunteer or additional staff member.

Some volunteer online mentors who had previously mentored young people in person realized that the time saved from traveling to schools to be mentors could be used to provide additional time with the young people online-allowing for additional mentoring.

The VolunteerMatch website provides a link to online and in-person volunteering opportunities. For in-person opportunities, you can provide the distance level you are interested in helping people from at home, your zip code, and the type of online volunteering you are interested in. You also could put that you are interested in any type of opportunity. Some of the many areas of opportunity include advocacy and human rights; religion; children and youth; computers and technology; the disabled; education and literacy; employment; media and broadcasting; politics; and seniors.

If you can’t help a cause in person, the site also has a link to online opportunities. Some of the many online opportunities include advocacy and human rights; children and youth; computers and technology; crisis support; the disabled; education and literacy; employment; the homeless and housing; media and broadcasting; politics; race and ethnicity; religion; seniors; and women.

The type of volunteering you can do depends on your talents, the time you have to spend on the cause you believe in, and what you are interested in doing. For example, if you are interested in volunteering for a political cause, you can help design logos, do data entry; facilitate group discussions, be a writer, photographer, or artist; be a cartoonist, or a grant writer, and help in many other ways. If you are interested in volunteering for a religious cause you can be a prayer volunteer for Guideposts, be a grant writer, make lap blankets, slippers, or scarves for Hospice patients, design websites, or be a researcher. If you want to help seniors, you can design websites, be a writer, contact our troops in Iraq, be an Excel expert, or be a phone buddy.

The Internet is full of examples of people who have devoted much of their time being an online volunteer, helping with causes they believe in from home, instead of in person. Some have had online discussions with those from other countries, helping with tax donations or getting libraries established. Others have helped find homes for animals by using the Internet. Some have made Afghans at home and shipped them to online organizations to send to the homeless.

The website, www.serviceleader.org also contains a great deal about what online volunteering is, how to establish an online volunteering program, and where to find virtual volunteering opportunities.

Whatever your skills or interests are, if you are interested in helping a cause you believe in from the comfort of your home, because you are not able to in person, there are countless opportunities.