How To Be a Virtual Volunteer

According to the Stanford Center of Longevity, about 90% of people want to volunteer, but only about a quarter of people do volunteer. Inability to travel, distance from population centers and lack of time contribute to the gap between wanting to volunteer and doing it.

But volunteering is good for you. According to the Mayo Clinic Health System, volunteering can reduce stress and improve mental and physical health, especially with age. Volunteering is a chance to practice old skills or hone new ones. And, of course, it’s a great way to meet new people.

The good news is, getting involved with a cause is easy and convenient with virtual volunteering. With strong home internet service and the use of an internet-connected device, like a computer, mobile phone or tablet, you can help around the world from the comfort of your home.

What kind of virtual volunteering is there?

There are so many ways to get involved. Chat with seniors or tutor math. Consult for a nonprofit or do graphic design for a public health group across the globe.

Depending on the work, the structure will be different. You may video chat with someone at a set time. You might just “log on” and be available for a certain stretch. You might even set your own hours and work on tasks whenever you want.

What do I need to be a virtual volunteer?

Volunteering often requires filling out a simple application, although the process can be more complex. Working with children, for instance, or in specialized fields may require a background check. The details will vary with the service you’re providing.

You’ll also need a good setup for working from home. Make sure you have a supportive chair, and if you’ll be on camera, bright lighting and a nice background. And you’ll want a fast home office internet connection using tech like fiber. This way, you can focus on doing as much good as you can.

Below, find some ideas for virtual volunteering, plus tips for finding placements that suit you best.

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Speaking the language

If you speak more than one language, there are many opportunities for digital volunteering. For instance, Translators without Borders needs language volunteers to help write, translate and revise materials for crisis response, health and education work. Or look for physician practices or clinics that need medical interpreters to communicate with patients. Search the web for “online medical interpreter volunteer opportunities,” then select your language.

Provide business consulting to nonprofits

If you work in consulting, finance, human resources or marketing, nonprofit causes need you! Check out Taproot, which pairs professionals with nonprofits. Help on a long-term basis, or sign up for one-hour virtual sessions to help nonprofits achieve their goals.

Tutor someone who needs it

College prep and academic tutoring aren’t cheap. Because private coaching is so costly, this help often eludes the kids with the most need. You can assist with college essays, standardized tests and a range of subjects. If you loved math, science or reading in school and have skills to share, you can volunteer to tutor online with a group like Learn To Be.

Chat with seniors

Volunteer online to chat with seniors! The organization Front Porch runs a program called Social Call, which pairs volunteers with seniors for weekly video or phone chats. Participants are matched based on their hobbies, cultural backgrounds and more. You can also check out DOROT, which runs a similar program and asks for an eight-week commitment. DOROT also runs GENuine Connections, which pairs teen volunteers with senior citizens.

Find the perfect match

There are countless other ways to remote volunteer. Use a search engine like Google to find a program based on your criteria, or use a special volunteering search engine. These websites let you refine by skills, region, community served and more. Here are two to help you get started:

  • VolunteerMatch – A volunteering search engine for online or in-person opportunities. Make sure to select online volunteering in the filters!
  • UN Volunteers – Here you can find places to help all over the world. Use the filters to select “online” and to sort by your interests. Project lengths range from a couple weeks to a full year.

Stay in and get out there

You know the benefits of volunteering, how easy it is to volunteer online and how to find the right places to do it. Now the fun and rewarding part—helping—is yours.

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