The rise of online volunteering: 5 ways to help out without going out

Published on November 16, 2021 by Andrew
A close-up of a female telesales agent wearing a wireless headset

The Covid-19 pandemic hit charities hard, with demand on their services increasing, even as national lockdowns forced their high street shops to close and left many struggling to donate.

UK Fundraising states that 36% of UK charities saw a decline in volunteer numbers from March 2020 and that 38% of charities found that their volunteers gave less time on average.

The coronavirus pandemic led to a huge increase in the use of technology, as employees began working from home and families used Zoom and other video teleconferencing software to keep in touch with family and friends.

Technology has been able to help the charity sector too. Over 90% of charities have been able to move their services online, leading to an increase in virtual volunteering.

If you’re looking to find new ways to support a cause you care about, here about five ways to volunteer from the comfort of your own home.

1. Mentoring children from all over the world

There are plenty of ways to put your interpersonal or teaching skills to use online. Mentorships exist for just about anything, and you could be helping disadvantaged children from all over the world.

You might be asked to help a child in South America learn English, or perhaps to provide a safe space for a local child to discuss problems they are having at school.

While online teaching has been around for a while, restrictions imposed by the pandemic have led to a rise in its use and there has never been a better opportunity to reach children in need.

2. Help charities and companies to be seen online

If you have a talent for the technological side of our virtual world, consider getting involved with volunteer web or app development and social media management. A strong online presence can make an enormous difference for charities but could be an area that is overlooked.

Coding and web development skills can be valuable for non-profit organisations looking to expand. As the pandemic saw more of us head online to interact, view world news, and make charitable donations, an elegant and functional website could make all the difference.

This is much the same with social media. If you have the skills to help a local charity build its online presence, why not volunteer your services? You could set up social media pages, help the charity to manage them, and provide training.

3. Use your writing skills to give charities an eloquent voice

You might be able to use your writing skills to help a charity fulfil its aims.

Maybe a local charity has an online presence but very little content?

Voluntary writing can take many forms. From copywriting for online blogs to scriptwriting for video content, almost every organisation needs at least one talented wordsmith. You could be the person to bring a clear tone of voice to a charity you care about.

Your writing may also be used to help persuade people to donate, or to raise awareness of certain issues. The written word is a valuable tool, so do some research and find out which charities need help getting their message across.

4. Customer service expertise is always required

Those with experience in the customer services sector can use their communication and people skills to help a charity. A charity might operate a 24-hour phone service, while some offer online live messaging or the option to video chat.

If you have experience dealing with people, you might find volunteering in this sort of role hugely rewarding. Your expertise could be especially useful if you have experience dealing with troubling or traumatic situations.

5. Use your hobbies to provide useful information

It isn’t just your professional skills that can be put to good use. Your hobbies can too.

Those with a keen interest in history, for example, can collaborate with the US-based Smithsonian Institute to transcribe historical documents for accessibility purposes.

Birdwatchers can work with eBird using the charity’s app to help research the movement and population spread of various bird species, which in turn helps with conservation efforts. Scientists can join Zooniverse to help out with countless different research opportunities across the world too.

Or perhaps take to Google and leave reviews on the accessibility of local establishments and help those with disabilities decide where to go. Volunteering doesn’t have to be tied to any one organisation.

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