October 21, 2020
The way volunteering looks today has changed dramatically over the past few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. From serving in food pantries and signing up for school functions, to building houses, usually volunteering meant going somewhere to do something. However, today’s volunteering includes donating your virtual time and skills. Instead of being present to volunteer in the “real world,” many people have found their place in the world of virtual volunteering. Here we will discuss what virtual volunteering is, when and where you can do it, and why you should participate.
What is virtual volunteering?
“When I hear the phrase virtual volunteering, I think of something I can do remotely—either a way to contribute time, funds, or talent”, says Jody L., Senior Manager Organizational Development. Researchers confirm that virtual volunteering allows you to commit your time and services away from the physical site of an organization, project, or campaign. Virtual volunteers work over the internet via computer, tablet, or phone to provide their skilled services to support a cause that is important to them (Fritz, 2020).
Can anyone virtually volunteer? Yes! Everybody who’s anybody can participate. Many people are unaware of the many opportunities that are available in which they can help. Brienna T., Call Center Representative 1 noted, “I have never virtually volunteered but I am open to it if there was an opportunity that sparked my interest”. There are plenty of people that probably feel the same way. The good thing about virtual volunteering is, whatever you like to do, you can find an opportunity available in which you can help. If you like to teach, if you like to sew, if you like data entry, if you are creative and know how to make masks—there is an opportunity available for you. For a general idea of some of the available virtual volunteer opportunities, please visit https://www.pointsoflight.org/virtual-volunteering-opportunities/.
When and where can you Virtually Volunteer?
Individuals can volunteer virtually anytime and anywhere. This makes participating really easy, especially in instances where a person may not have a car or ride to get to the volunteering site or if someone can’t find a babysitter for children at home. Every day, volunteers across the country lend a hand virtually, from computers, tablets, phones and other mobile devices. All you need is Internet access—and sometimes, just a phone and you can participate and make a difference.
Why should you virtually volunteer?
Because there is a NEED! These days, plenty of nonprofit organizations are utilizing the help of virtual volunteers. And in today’s society, where many of us are working full-time jobs, raising families, and trying to spend some time on self-care, this evolution of the volunteer space makes it easier than ever for you to fit volunteer work into your already-busy schedule. If you have even a couple of hours to spare, you can support a cause you’re passionate about. When asked about preferences of in person volunteer opportunities versus virtual ones, Donna B., Research & Analytics Specialist agreed by stating, “Currently, I prefer virtual! It is safer, and easier to schedule in my busy schedule. I also love in-person events, but definitely not during COVID”. In addition, new research in the Journal of Happiness Studies suggests that volunteers not only help their communities, they also experience a positive bump in mental health. At a time when some 33% of Americans are experiencing symptoms of pandemic-related anxiety or depression, that intrinsic reward or “warm glow” feeling provides both a buffer and a sense of control. Also, volunteering is likely to help boost one’s sense of social connection, particularly for older adults who may be feeling isolated, (Reeve-Parker, 2020).
And that’s not all. In study after study, researchers have found that people who volunteer lead longer, healthier, happier lives. Volunteerism correlates positively to stronger self-confidence, better quality of friendships and improved job prospects. Volunteering builds more robust social networks and, because volunteering often helps people discover their passions, the ability to tell one’s own story.
Want to make a difference from the comfort of your own couch? Whether you’re passionate about environmental conservation, reproductive rights, or alleviating worldwide hunger, remember more than likely there is a virtual volunteering opportunity out there for you.
Fritz, Joanne. "How Virtual Volunteering Works for Individuals and Nonprofits." The Balance Small Business. 2020, pp. 1-7, www.thebalancesmb.com/becoming-a-virtual-volunteer-4138357. Points of Light. "Virtual Volunteer Opportunities." Points of Light, 2020, pp. 1-5, www.pointsoflight.org/virtual-volunteering-opportunities/. Reeve-Parker, Nicole. "Benefits of Giving Back." The Whole U-University of Washington. University of Washington, 2020, pp. 1-2, thewholeu.uw.edu/2020/08/16/reaping-the-benefits-of-volunteering-even-virtually