Have you considered volunteering at a nonprofit organization to share your expertise or gain new skills? You may have already engaged in volunteer opportunities in your area. However, did you know that there are many virtual volunteering opportunities where you can work on projects from a distance? Websites such as Volunteer Match and UN Volunteers-Online, provide U.S. based and global virtual volunteering opportunities. Another way to start a virtual volunteering project is to identify an organization you are interested in, contact the organization directly, and let them know how you would like to contribute to their efforts. Several months ago, the Walden Career Services team decided to engage in virtual volunteering by reaching out to two nonprofit organizations, Jeremiah Program and Project for Pride in Living (PPL).
Locating Virtual Volunteering Sites
How did we connect with our volunteer sites? We contacted HandsOn Twin Cities, a local organization in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area that works with nonprofits. We provided HandsOn Twin Cities a list of skills we had to offer, which included developing career-related content, editing, researching, and many others. HandsOn Twin Cities sent an announcement on our behalf and, a few days later, several nonprofits expressed interest. We selected two nonprofits from the list and contacted their staff directly. We scheduled Skype meetings to plan the projects, received our assignments, and began working on our tasks.
Below are the two organizations we served and the virtual volunteering projects we completed:
Jeremiah Program helps single mothers prepare for college, enter the workplace, and achieve financial independence. We learned that Jeremiah’s residents were interested in exploring a variety of career fields. We agreed to research careers in Early Childhood, Nursing, Education, Business Management, Information Technology and other fields. Through the course of several months, we created 10 Career Guides that will be used to assist Life Skills Facilitators during a Career Development night.
Project for Pride in Living (PPL):
Project for Pride provides career training and housing services for low-income individuals and families. Our virtual volunteering project for PPL involved creating three handouts and one flyer on several career-related topics, including developing a professional presence, addressing challenging interview questions, and preparing for job fairs. Our content will be used during weekly Job Readiness workshops.
If you are interested in virtual volunteering, we would like to leave you with the following advice:
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to nonprofit organizations, offer your skills, and ask how you can best meet their needs.
- Use Skype or another communication tool to meet with staff from the volunteer site. Dress professionally and turn on your webcam so their staff can “meet” you in a virtual environment. This extra step will help build trust, especially if they do not have experience working with volunteers at a distance.
- Gain clarity on your project before you get started and ask for feedback if needed.
- Allow enough time to complete your project and meet the deadline set by the organization.
- Deliver a quality product with no spelling or grammatical errors.
Want to learn more about volunteering? Check out these resources from Walden Career Services:
Written by Associate Director of Career Services, Dina Bergren
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