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How To: Create Virtual Volunteer Opportunities

May 12, 2010
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In the age of the Internet, there are a a variety of ways that your volunteers can help any organization from the comfort of their own homes. According to the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, virtual volunteering means that volunteer tasks are completed, in whole or in part, via the Internet and a home or work computer. 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. Additionally, virtual volunteering enables people that cannot volunteer outside of their homes with the opportunity to make a difference in your organization.

Many volunteers can accomplish their work without the need to come into your office on a day-to-day basis, especially if you are running out of room! Here are a few virtual volunteer opportunities that can save both you and your volunteer valuable time and money:

  • Grant Writing
  • Website or graphic design
  • Raising money online, e.g., E-bay
  • Translation services
  • Research: grants, potential donors, community partners, content for newsletters and press releases, and much more
  • Copy editing: grant proposals, press releases, newsletters, advertisements, news paper columns, website content, letters, and other documents
  • Professional consulting expertise: accounting, management and legal issues, or developing a strategic plan for a particular department
  • Advocacy: Posting information to appropriate online communities (newsgroups, lists, etc.), preparing legislative alerts to be sent via e-mail, or keeping track of legislation that could affect an agency’s clients
  • Multimedia expertise: Preparing a PowerPoint, Hypercard, QuickTime, or other computer-based presentation
  • Designing: Newsletters, brochures, logos, a marketing strategy, a technology plan, or a database system using an agency’s in-house database software
  • Inputting an agency’s volunteer opportunities into online databases
  • Advanced web site programming
  • Volunteer management assistance: Managing other volunteers in the aforementioned activities, providing an online orientation to all volunteers with Internet access (whether or not they are onsite or online volunteers), surveying volunteers via e-mail about their experiences with an agency or program, keeping track of volunteer hours, and entering volunteer opportunities into online databanks

    In order to figure out what you and your organization need, ask yourself these six simple questions:
    1.)  What is your program’s role in your agency’s mission?
    2.)  What is the paid staff’s responsibility?
    3.)  What could you NOT do or could NOT do as well without the help of volunteers?
    4.)  When do these tasks really need to take place?
    5.)  Where do these tasks really need to take place?

6.)  What skills, personality traits and other qualifications do volunteers need to accomplish these tasks?
And we would like to add one more – What do you NOT have the time or resources for?

For more information on virtual volunteer opportunities or how to develop and implement a virtual volunteering program, please see the following:

Planning at Idealist.org

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