Virtual volunteering is one of the most recent new frontiers of professional and skilled volunteering. Also called online volunteering, cyber service, online mentoring, tele tutoring and various other names, it basically allows volunteers to complete their tasks, in whole or in part, via the Internet and at home using their own computer.
The amazing evolution of digital solutions has helped the development of this interesting new way for volunteers to connect with not-for-profit organizations they would like to help from afar, all without losing the human touch and the personal connection.
A face to face interaction can easily happen via Skype which also allows screen sharing in real time. Documents and materials can be exchanged and shared through secure platforms like Google Drive or Dropbox, and people can also co-write documents remotely. If email sounds like a communication tool that is too old-school, people can chat or send documents and files using instant messaging apps such as Whatsapp, Messenger, or Hangout.
Volunteering from home is suitable for skilled volunteers
Virtual volunteering is specifically suitable for skilled and qualified volunteers, people who have a well-defined skill set that allows them to complete a specific job or task remotely with very little guidance or supervision from the receiving organization.
With Professionals doing good in Cambodia, we had, and still have, a very successful virtual and professional volunteer experience with local organizations in Cambodia. Mickey, a retired IT executive living in the US, has developed a new website from his home. Turgut, a professional graphic designer, has contributed by creating communication materials and posts for social media while in Turkey.
Here are some of the perks of remote volunteering:
- Virtual volunteering is suitable for individuals who would like to help, but find it difficult or impossible due to a disability, home obligation or work schedule.
- Volunteers can make use of their own computer, sophisticated software, equipment or applications that the organization they are assisting may not have access to.
- Virtual volunteering allows volunteers to help organizations that are geographically distant, should they not have the financial capacity or the time to travel or live abroad.
- Virtual volunteers can flexibly work at their own pace from wherever they are, any day of the week, any hour of the day.
Regardless, virtual volunteering should not be looked at as a replacement for face-to-face volunteering. It is simply one of many alternatives for individuals to help and give back to the community.