We’ve all heard of the benefits of volunteering—to help those less fortunate, give back to the community, feel fulfilled, etc. It’s a great thing to do, but life gets in the way and we don’t have time. But there is still a way to volunteer in a way that cuts down the time commitment significantly—that way is virtual volunteering.
Virtual volunteering is when your tasks as a volunteer are “completed in whole or in part, via the internet and a home or work computer.”
I volunteer virtually for 3 organizations, and I can’t tell people enough how beneficial (and not all that time consuming) it is.
Here are 6 reasons to consider virtual volunteering:
1. An easy, time-efficient way to give back
Virtual volunteering gets you the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made a difference, while hanging out in your pajamas and relaxing at home. Since most of the work you do is through the computer, the hours are flexible and match to your schedule. All you have is a weekly or monthly requirement. If you set aside time each week to work on virtual volunteering tasks, you can easily fulfill the necessary requirement. Best part is, no commuting needed! Virtual volunteering is especially appealing for people whose schedule, health, or capabilities don’t lend themselves to their attending orientations and visiting volunteer sites on a regular basis. Even if that’s the case, they still have the opportunity to experience the fulfillment of giving back.
2. Adds to your resume
Getting involved in virtual volunteering is a time-saving way to show your philanthropic side. I work with college students on an almost daily basis, and one of their main concerns is having enough relevant internships on their resumes. As students, they already have a million things on their plate, so a virtual volunteering position with a low time commitment is a great thing to add. If you’re not a college student but still interested in gaining experience, virtual volunteering can help.
3. Allows you to learn new skills in a low-risk environment
If you want to learn something new but don’t have the time/money to take an actual class, you can do so through virtual volunteering. You can explore completely new sectors that you’re unfamiliar with yet interested in, without the pressure of getting interviews and impressing potential employers. By volunteering, you can test skills you’d like to work on and get feedback in a low-risk environment.
Some examples of sectors you can virtually volunteer in (just from my searches):
- Blogging (which is what I do!)
- Media relations
- Grant writing
- Social media management
- Human Resources
There’s a limitless number of other fields you can gain experience in by volunteering if you start searching!
4. Introduces you to new, passionate people
Volunteering is a great way to network and meet new people who have similar interests to you. The great thing about other volunteers and people who work for nonprofits is that they’re almost always nice people. Connect with them; get to know them! After all, you never know what the future will hold. Maybe:
- you’ll be in their area one day and get to meet them in person
- they can serve as a reference if you volunteer for years and establish a relationship
- there will be a job opening in the nonprofit, and they’ll think of you
5. Time well spent
Instead of sitting in front of the television and watching Netflix for a few hours (which you can still have on in the background!) you can be using your time more beneficially. Like I said before, virtual volunteering doesn’t take up that much time. I know there have been nights that I’ve spent an hour on Instagram by accident and thought of the better ways I could have structured my time.
6. Connects you to something larger than yourself
Just like regular volunteering, it’s good to know you’re part of something larger than yourself, and helping people that won’t ever be able to repay you.
If you’re even a little bit interested in Virtual Volunteering, a perfect place to start is www.VolunteerMatch.org. Type in whatever topic you’re interested in, and click “virtual”. I guarantee that after a few hours of exploring everything the site has to offer, you’ll find an opportunity that fits your goal. Everyone of us has unique skills and abilities inside us—why not offer them to others and make the world a better place?
If helping women and girls is your passion, a great place to explore virtual volunteering is www.LiveYourDream.org. They provide flexible action opportunities that let you choose your cause, how much time you commit and how you want to help.
Erin Ford is a public relations account executive and has been blogging for many years. While attending Penn State, she discovered a love for Women’s Studies, which she found empowering and illuminating, and graduated with a minor in the subject. Since then, she finds fulfillment in speaking up about issues impacting women and girls, and believes that through honest conversations everyone can be empowered to do the same.