How can virtual volunteering add value?:
As the pandemic struck our planet and the world seemed to come to a standstill, there were many of us who felt, suddenly we had more time. For many of us being stuck at home with limited contact fueled a desire to do something valuable and we began searching for purpose and ways to truly make a difference.
Even though borders were shut and travel was impossible in many ways this made the world open up and where before we might have only considered volunteering in another country if we had the finances and time available to jump on a plane, now we were able to engage with people in other countries who previously seemed out of reach. The barriers of distance were dissolving and rapidly being replaced by a new age of technology, virtual engagement and opportunity.
Many smaller organizations from developing countries benefited from skills and services from professionals around the world by way of virtual volunteering. Social media strategies were developed, websites designed, online accounting systems put into place, media campaigns planned, created and launched. These are just some of the examples of virtual volunteering projects that flourished in a time of great uncertainty and chaos.
Benefits for volunteers:
For those that suddenly had more time on their hands or perhaps had sadly lost their jobs due to the pandemic, they discovered they could still have a positive impact on others around the world by sharing their skills and professional experience in a virtual space. At the same time this improved their own personal resume with additional work experience, increased their international professional network and improved their intercultural and key global competencies. All extremely beneficial when looking for new jobs or perhaps for career progression in what is rapidly becoming a competitive global economy. Instead of sitting idle getting lost in hours of netflix, they were able to contribute, add value and develop professionally.
For communities and small businesses:
The benefits of exposure to skills and engagement from individuals across the globe with a variety of experience was invaluable. Suddenly communities were exposed to new ideas, perspectives and opportunities they never dreamed possible. They also discovered that they had unique ideas and skills to share with the rest of the world and so the exchange of knowledge and ideas flourished along with bigger dreams and possibilities!
So how does it work and how can I get involved?
Many of us have often thought that we would love to give back in some way but simply can’t find the time to get out there and do it. Perhaps you are also still searching for a cause close to your heart that’s within realistic proximity. This is the great benefit of virtual volunteering or internships, which allows you to share your skills without being physically present. Volunteering / interning virtually is usually done via computer or over the phone. There are many online opportunities requiring only communication through the internet, such as website design, social media management, and blogging, online teaching, data entry, research and analysis etc.
If you are interested in getting involved, developing your professional skills or taking a course which includes practical experience in a virtual environment whilst making a difference, there are specialist organizations who will assist you in matching your skills and areas of expertise and interest with the best organization and project. These organizations also provide you with support in the form of onboarding and training to assist you with successfully navigating your way in a virtual workspace which could include interaction with multi cultural team members who may not speak the same language.
For more information on ways to get involved in making a difference, while at the same time developing your own professional skills and improving your global network take a look at some of these opportunities.
Written by COO, Shayle Havemann