If you want to help others and improve the world, you still can, without leaving the house. Many volunteer opportunities require only a computer or a phone. Some need just an hour a week, others more. Some are short-term, others long-term. Many are flexible, willing to work with your schedule.
We’ve rounded up four websites offering a staggering variety of choices, from mentoring, fundraising, writing, to social justice, with a few samples from each.
With so many options to choose from, how to choose? Consider these factors:
- What causes appeal to you?
- What skills can you offer
- How much time can you give?
- It’s real volunteering with real people; it’s “virtual” only by name
Seniors are the volunteering type
“Seniors are among the most dedicated volunteers within our society, with time and experience to share in ways that keep them engaged and active. One in three volunteers is age 55 or older, says the US Bureau of Labor statistics,” says Tyler Butler, who has created and led global giving programs for Fortune 500 companies as CEO of 11Eleven Consulting. “Virtual volunteering means these efforts can take place from home or anywhere, yet safeguard against needless exposure to COVID-19.”
Founded by President George H.W. Bush, this is the world’s biggest organization devoted to volunteer service, with affiliates in 200 cities in 37 countries. Search over 40 categories, from mental health, immigration/refugees to marketing, and by your zip code. Here are a few ideas:
- History and garden lovers can help the Smithsonian Institution make its collections more accessible by transcribing historic documents or tagging images of American gardens by plant type in its database.
- Help research human rights violations for Amnesty International by reviewing information and photographs.
- Help research cold cases of missing and unidentified people for the Doe Network.
This boasts a huge database of more than one million virtual volunteer listings from over 117,000 nonprofits. Search 29 categories, from the biggest (community, children/youth and education/literacy) to disaster relief, arts and animals.
- You can make funny dog and cat videos on YouTube for https://bestfriends.orgBest Friends Animal Society.
- Got a legal background? Lawyers can review online content for Illinois Legal Aid.
- Retired business owner? There are many opportunities to mentor small business owners in sales and marketing, business planning and product development.
AARP, the advocacy and membership group for people 50+, operates this volunteer opportunities database for the 50+ age group. (Some are for different AARP branches.) Some of the opportunities:
- Offer career advice to high school students in low-income families in fields from accounting, crafts to handyman by email for CareerVillage.
- Raise awareness about scams, especially those targeting older people, identified by AARP’s National Fraud Team.
- Create audio books for students who are blind or have learning disabilities (you can read or be a “listener” who gives feedback on readers’ voice quality and pronunciation).
This group lists organizations for peace and development all over the world – they need skills from writing, editing, research, or project management to design for at least one hour a week. You can:
- Research grant and funding sources for young social entrepreneurs in Asia and the Pacific.
- Brainstorm ideas to collect plastic waste in Cameroon.
- Do grant-writing for women’s and children’s welfare in India.
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