Digital volunteering: Helping others from the comfort of your bed

Volunteering regularly is a great way to contribute to your community and is something that will look good on any résumé. 

However, if you're a college student, you're either a) too busy to go drive half an hour every weekend to work at your state's volunteer center or b) too lazy to wake up at a regular hour on Saturday to be a valuable member of society. 

Whatever the reason, virtual volunteering is a great way to offer your time and effort to organizations that serve the public and you don't even need to get out of your pajamas to do it! 

1. Catchafire.org 

Catchafire.org is a great tool if you are looking for a volunteer experience specifically tailored to your professional skill set. The online volunteer database connects professionals with organizations looking for someone to fulfill a certain role within one of their volunteer projects.

You simply create a profile, list your skill set, share your previous work and perhaps include a picture of yourself. Then you can scroll around for organizations on the site, apply for positions within organizations that interest you, and wait to see if you get a match. It’s like Tinder for volunteer organizations (without the "Catfishing," because catchafire.org curates the organizations).

Even though this site is more for college students who have interned somewhere or already work in a professional organization, anyone can create a profile and see what volunteer opportunities are recommended for their skill set. And — like Tinder — the worst that could happen if you are not experienced enough for a position as that you get virtually right swiped.

2. Volunteermatch.org

Volunteermatch.org does not filter volunteer options by your skill set, but it does allow you to narrow your volunteer search by cause and search for either local or virtual volunteer options online. You can use the online tool to find available volunteer opportunities in your area, or you can take it a step further and find organizations that are looking for volunteers that can do work for them over the Internet.

Virtual volunteer opportunities can be done from a computer or any device that can connect to the internet, and that way you can contribute to your community from the comfort of your own home. No shoes, no shirt? No problem.

The other great thing about this website is that the University’s Changemaker Central also has their own Volunteermatch website where organizations looking for student volunteers can have their volunteer opportunities reviewed and posted by the student-run organization.

3. Greatnonprofits.org

Greatnonprofits.org posts stories and information about nonprofits that are making an impact in their communities. Kind of like a Yelp for nonprofit organizations, the website allows users to find out about nonprofits and then review them on their website. And the great thing is that no organization on the site has three dollar signs (or any for that matter) because it only costs your time and service in order to contribute to the organizations.

If you are looking to volunteer for a nonprofit listed through Greatnonprofits.org, you can use the site’s search engine to find nonprofits in your area, find the address, read the nonprofit’s bio, and contact the organization through the contact info listed. And the reviews work on a star system, so you can quickly make sure other users had a good experience with the organization before volunteering for it.

4. Serviceleader.org

Virtual volunteering is still pretty new, so if you are looking for general information about what it is and what it might entail, Serviceleader.org has a host of information about this type of volunteering that you can scroll through and use to find out how to get involved in this new field of public service.

The site offers examples of virtual volunteering, safety tips for volunteering online, and the benefits of virtual volunteering if you still are not sold on the idea of giving back to the community in just your underwear. You can also find other websites that promote volunteerism and/or community service from clicking on the link conveniently titled “Websites Promoting Volunteerism and/or Community Service.”

5. Onlinevolunteering.org

Organizations from countries all around the world are in need of people to volunteer, and if you’re like most people and can’t afford to fly to a different country every weekend, the United Nations Volunteers’ online volunteering website is the place for you.

The site displays more than 100 online volunteer opportunities right now that only require you to have a device that connects to the Internet and a specified skill set. Each volunteer opportunity is reviewed by the United Nations Volunteers program and is color-coded by which skill set the opportunity needs and displays the weekly time commitment it requires.

6. Createthegood.org

Createthegood.org is another great online search tool for looking up volunteer options in your area. The nice thing about its search engine is that you can filter opportunities by virtual opportunities, volunteer opportunities in your state, or volunteer options within 10, 25, 50 or 100 miles of your zip code.

The site totes over 7,000 available volunteer opportunities and more than 200,000 people that have joined their efforts. It also allows you to post service projects for which you are looking for more volunteers. So cleaning out the bathrooms of your elementary school does not have to be something you do alone.

7. Goodwill.org

You have probably heard of Goodwill because its ubiquitous thrift stores that offer low-priced clothing as well as a place to drop off your old, 8th grade wardrobe (fingerless gloves and Jesse McCartney T-shirts, I’m looking at you). However, the charitable company has also been keeping up with the times and developed its own online volunteer opportunities for those who want to contribute to Goodwill’s efforts from home.

The company connects you with two sites who are both looking for mentors: Goodprospects.org and Goodguides. Goodprospects.org puts you in the shoes of a career mentor helping an online community of job seekers who want to advance in their careers. If you choose to work with Goodguides, you will give encouragement and guidance for at least one hour a week to young adults ages 12-17 years old who are at risk of making harmful choices.

8. Idealist.org

Like other volunteer databases, Idealist.org allows you to filter your search options by keyword and area. However, it also includes a bunch of other search filters that make it easier to find an organization who needs your specific experience level and time commitment.

You can narrow your search by how much time a week you are willing to commit, your willingness to volunteer less or more than three months, the time of the day you can volunteer, your ability to work either weekdays or weekends, how flexible or rigid the schedule can be, and your need for provided training. It also lists a host of international volunteer options, for which you can find out if they provide the resources you need to volunteer there.


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