Virtual Volunteers

I’ve been doing a lot of online searches lately on the topic of volunteerism. The first thing that struck my attention was the fact that many of my searches lead to Canadian sites such as Volunteer.ca and Volunteer Canada. Volunteer.ca has an amazing resource center with hundreds of listings relating to volunteerism. I was so impressed with this site, I almost called this post “Why I Love Canadians”.

Before I could write that post, however, I was directed ServiceLeader.org’s virtual volunteer section. ServiceLeader.org is

a project of the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs of the University of Texas at Austin, [providing] information on all aspects of volunteerism.

While I still love Canadians, my mind began spinning around the concept of Virtual Volunteers.

According to ServiceLeader’s site,

Virtual volunteering means volunteer tasks completed, in whole or in part, via the Internet and a home or work computer. It’s also known as online volunteering, cyber service, online mentoring, teletutoring and various other names. Virtual volunteering allows agencies to expand the benefits of their volunteer programs, by allowing for more volunteers to participate, and by utilizing volunteers in new areas.

Many people actively search for volunteer opportunities they can complete via home or work computers, because of time constraints, personal preference, a disability or a home-based obligation that prevents them from volunteering on-site. Virtual volunteering allows anyone to contribute time and expertise to not-for-profit organizations, schools, government offices and other agencies that utilize volunteer services, from his or her home or office.

Personally, I think that Virtual Volunteerism is the emerging trend in volunteerism and something that all NPO’s should spend time thinking about. I know that I’ll be spending time learning about it and posting on it here.

3 comments

  1. I agree with you, Trish. I think all NPOs should have a system in place to accommodate people who might want to do short-term or spur-of-the-moment volunteering and fundraising. Maybe something modular or steps 1, 2, 3.

    I’m also expecting more online clearinghouses. Why not an eBay for volunteer projects? Or an eBay for projects to fund? I think something like that has already started for public school grants where a teacher can propose a project to do with $500, for instance, and people can donate to fund it.

    I’m also wondering when there will appear a reputation system for NPOs where the public, donors, clients rate NPOs like they rate Amazon’s books.

  2. I just looked at the Canadian “virtual volunteering” site and I am impresssed. The stuff that’s there would be a good basis for brainstorming for any NPO.

    BTW, why is it when you go searching on the web for soical help and service information you find more Canadian and UK stuff than US?

  3. That’s a really good question. One I’ve asked myself every time I’ve searched. I believe that one of the documents on the site discusses Canada’s culture of volunteerism.

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