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Other ways to get involved - virtual volunteering 

If you are eager to give your time voluntarily but are unable to turn up in person, then virtual volunteering could be the answer. Virtual volunteering is already well established in America and is now becoming popular here. It is not meant as a substitute for “in-person” volunteering. In fact, one of the most exciting aspects of this innovative use of technology is that it is adding both to the quantity of service contributed and to attracting people who have not necessarily volunteered before. Virtual volunteering offers greater access to community resources and provides more ways for people to support community groups.

Virtual volunteering is a great way to get involved with organisations, helping them to deliver aspects of their services, gather information or develop their administrative systems all from your desk, either at home or in your workplace. The tasks could be for organisations in your local area, overseas or they may only exist only on the Internet.

Giving time online is convenient and flexible and allows people to give time who would otherwise be unable to get involved in social action. Contact can be made over the internet, by telephone or post, and suits people who have little free time or cannot go out.

What sort of tasks could you do?

  • Conduct online research – find information to use in an organisation’s funding proposal, gather information on a particular issues, collect website addresses of other relevant organisations.

  • Tracking relevant legislation - take your interest in politics further to benefit a local voluntary organisation.

  • Giving specialist advice – use your own expertise and skills to give advice or guidance on important issues like strategic planning, accounting or equality policies.

  • Creating databases – help organisations to become more effective by developing or updating databases of contacts, volunteers, funders etc.

  • Design or update website – use your skills and expertise to help an organisation create an up-to-date and accessible website.

  • Supporting other volunteers – provide online orientation and support to all volunteers with internet access or survey volunteers via email about their experiences with the organisation or group.

  • Providing online mentoring or support – keep in touch with people by visiting them electronically, through email or online chat facilities.

  • Keep people safe online - supervise or moderate a chat room, news group or email discussion group (for example AOL).

    Virtual volunteering can be part of an organisation’s volunteering programme – as well as volunteering online, you might combine your virtual volunteering with on-site or in-person volunteering (for example befriending a young person through a youth project then emailing then to give support between face-to-face meetings).

    This is a new area of volunteering, so be prepared to convince the organisation that this could really help them and that you could make an important contribution. If there is a particular organisation that you are eager to work with, then approach them or alternatively contact your local volunteer centre for information about virtual volunteering opportunities.

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