Virtual volunteer

What is Virtual Volunteering?

Virtual volunteerism refers to volunteer activities completed, in whole or in part, using the internet and home, school, work or other internet-connected devices. Moreover, volunteering conducted from a distance, such as mailings, can also be considered virtual volunteering. Virtual volunteering is also known as online volunteering, remote volunteering, or e-volunteering.

How does virtual volunteering work?

Many people find that becoming a virtual volunteer is more convenient, less expensive and time intensive, than compared to traditional physical volunteering. While there will always be physical volunteering, the shift towards online platforms has made virtual volunteering positions increasingly widespread and accessible.

In fact, in times of social disruption, such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic, working and volunteering remotely has become essential to keeping the economy, and especially non-profits, running. Due to the rise in teleworking tools such as Zoom, Skype, WebEx etc., it has never been easier, or more rewarding, to become a virtual volunteer!

What are the benefits of virtual volunteering?

  • Flexible and less time-intensive
  • Develop new skills in low-risk environment
  • Tap into diverse cultures and ideas
  • Connect to a passionate global online community

How can I become a virtual volunteer?

The best place to start is to ask yourself, “What   causes, or issues interest me the most?”. From there, you can begin to identify which causes you would like to support and focus your efforts on the non-profits you would like to promote.

While it’s often tempting to play it safe and do something we have already done, consider working for an non-profit sector you have little experience, but are keen to explore – going out of our comfort zone and exploring new approaches is how we develop creative and interesting perspectives!

What should you look for before signing up?

Once you have a shortlist of ideas, the next thing is to research the non-profit or organization you are keen to support. Here are a few tips when exploring virtual volunteering opportunities:

  • Research each organization thoroughly
  • Eliminate fraudulent or unstable organizations
  • Understand how your hours and work will be recorded
  • Know what kind of training or experience is required
  • Discuss needs and expectations with the non-profit

Before you sign up for an online volunteer position, determine that the organization does the kind of work that you support, and that fits your interests and skills.

Do I need any training?

Non-profits should provide full training for any virtual volunteering project offered. This may require some additional time to complete, however most non-profits are respectful of their volunteer’s time and will often include training as part of the volunteer activity. Moreover, as virtual volunteerism is often skill-based, learning a new skill, or enhancing an existing set will add to your resume.

What additional equipment do I need?

Make sure you have the right equipment and services to do virtual volunteering. At a minimum, most projects require a computer, tablet such as an iPad, or smartphone, as well as a stable internet connection. Always check with the non-profit which software applications are required and if any additional costs are involved. For those volunteers using a computer or laptop, it may be beneficial to use a two-way headset with built-in microphone for call-based projects.

Students are not expected to pay any additional costs for virtual volunteering. MSU Billings will not reimburse students for expenses incurred through virtual volunteering projects.

How can I record my virtual volunteering hours?

The easiest way to evidence your hours is to log them using our online volunteer portal: Service Sting. We now offer leaderboards and prizes for individuals and group-based submissions. There is sweet loot to be had!

Where can find more information on virtual volunteer opportunities?

To find opportunities, use established databases and well-known charities.

To help students, we have compiled a collection of virtual volunteering opportunities – this resource includes non-profits, search engines, news articles, research papers, videos and software links.