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Online volunteering

Giving your love via laptop!

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in employment

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What is it?

Online volunteering is the act of donating your time and skills for a cause through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Working without pay, volunteers typically join an organisation they admire to contribute to its growth, or they join a project because they strongly believe in a cause and want to play a role in helping out.

Why bother?

There are many reasons for online volunteering:

  • Boost your skills and competencies for future job or educational opportunities.
  • Help make services more caring and personal.
  • Encourage innovation and a fresh perspective in the org or charity you work for.
  • Enable a service to be user-led.
  • Donate your time from the comfort of home.
  • Feel included in processes of change that may not be as accessible to you offline.
  • Expand your network of contacts.
  • Boost your confidence and self-esteem.
  • Get a sense of ownership over projects or duties.

Check out our Ditch The Monkey video below on volunteering and contributing to the world around you



Are you ready to take our online volunteer quiz?

1. Do you have regular access to the Internet? YES or NO
Regular access to the Internet is a requirement to becoming an effective online volunteer. Before you sign on to volunteer online with the organisation of choice, make sure to have a clear understanding of the hours you will be expected to contribute. Be upfront (with yourself and the organisation) about your own online accessibility. Do you have a computer at home, and regular access to the Internet? Which additional tools (webcam, specific design programmes, chat functionality, etc.) will you need, and do you have these readily available to you?

2. Can you work with limited supervision? YES or NO
It’s true that online volunteering affords much independence, but it can also demand a lot of concentration and self-discipline. If you have the ability to self-direct, make decisions on your own, and work with little supervision, online volunteering may be the right opportunity for you.

3. Do you possess excellent organisational skills? YES or NO
Working on online assignments, be it research, translating content, building a website, etc. requires a great deal of organisational attention and a keen eye for detail. At all times, make sure you know what is expected of you and keep a list of to do items with clear deadlines. Report your progress and communicate directly with the coordinator.

4. Do you have excellent communication skills? YES or NO
For the most part, online volunteering will require you to communicate via email, chat messaging or by posting in online discussions, depending on the organisation’s processes. Excellent writing and communication skills are required. To be an effective communicator, be clear, prompt in your replies, and always follow up accordingly.

5. Are you comfortable working with deadlines? YES or NO
Online assignments will have defined deadlines. To be an effective online volunteer, you need to adhere to these deadlines and communicate regularly with your project coordinator. You must also pace your work, and be flexible if a deadline’s original date is changed. Keep in mind that your assignment may be the part of a larger whole; if you miss your deadline, it may affect the course of the entire project.

6. Do you have the ability to self-motivate? YES or NO
Motivation is key to any volunteering opportunity, but as an online volunteer it is particularly important that you possess the ability to motivate yourself. As you may not have regular face-to-face contact (or none at all) with peer volunteers, you can’t rely on external motivation. Some volunteers find this a determining test of their ability to volunteer online. If you happen to stray from your task, can you find motivation in your work, and the enthusiasm to see it through?

If you answered YES to all 6 Qs, you're ready to dive into the world of online volunteering. If you had a few NOs, that's okay too. Maybe it's worth chatting to the org or charity you're interested in about how you can learn to do some things better. Content thanks to the amazing people at TakingItGlobal.

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Published February 19th, 2013
Last updated February 21st, 2018
Tags volunteer volunteering
Can this be improved? Contact if you have any suggestions for this article.

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