The Coronavirus and the Rise of the Virtual Volunteer

7 way you can make a difference from your couch

Farknot Architect/ Shutterstock
Farknot Architect/ Shutterstock

The coronavirus pandemic is changing the way we are interacting, launching us seemingly overnight from the real world into the virtual world.

Facing public health uncertainties and taking precautions, schools and universities are teaching classes online. Churches are live-streaming Sunday Service. Friends meet for Virtual Happy Hours, where BYOB meets IYOH (In Your Own Home.)

And for the over 62 million Americans who volunteer each year, the coronavirus has them seeking creative ways to address challenges whether they are quarantined, their nonprofit has temporarily closed its physical doors, or they want to serve with a broader reach around the world.

We have now entered the era of the Virtual Volunteer. The virtual world of volunteering offers an easy way to make a difference, from both the safety and comfort of your couch.

“Online volunteering is fast, easy – and most of all, effective. When skilled, passionate individuals join forces online with great organizations, everyone wins.”                                                              

The United Nations Online Volunteer Programme

Here are 7 ways you can become a Virtual Volunteer

1. Crisis Text Line

Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text 741741 from anywhere in the US to text with a trained Crisis Counselor. Crisis Text Line trains volunteers ages 18 and older to support people in crisis.

2. Translators Without Borders

Translators without Borders is a non-profit organization offering language and translation support for humanitarian and development agencies, and other non-profit organizations on a global scale. If you are fluent in at least one language other than your native language, you can volunteering online including  translating medical texts, crisis response, or for other roles such as project manager, graphic or web page designers and fundraising.

3. United Nations Volunteers

The United Nations Volunteers program contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. Online volunteering allows organizations and volunteers to team up to address sustainable development from 187 countries around the globe.

4. Smithsonian Digital Volunteers

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex. Today, digital technology makes it possible for people who believe in the Smithsonian mission to make significant contributions online. Digital Volunteers can now take on important assignments to expand access to the Smithsonian’s massive collections, and can participate in a variety of research programs.

5. Amnesty Decoders

Operated by Amnesty International, a global movement of more than 7 million people who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. Amnesty Decoders is a platform from volunteers around the world to use their computers or phones to help researchers sift through pictures, information and documents to identify human rights violations.

6. National Park Service

Since 1916, the National Park Service has been entrusted with the care of our national parks. With the help of volunteers and partners, they safeguard these special places and share their stories with more than 330 million visitors every year. Online volunteers can test, evaluate or develop elements of the NPS’s online presence.

7. VolunteerMatch

VolunteerMatch makes volunteering easy. They match people with causes, connecting millions of people with a place to volunteer. You can customize your search for your perfect online opportunity in both the USA and Canada in your field of interest.

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