The Virtues of Virtual Volunteering and Online Fundraising

By Ryan Scott

The Virtues of Virtual Volunteering and Online Fundraising

Your employees want to perform community service; they really, really do…but amidst their busy schedules they just can’t seem to find the time.

So how about making volunteering easier than ever by offering virtual volunteer opportunities? It’s just one more tool that savvy companies are using to sharpen their employee volunteer programs, and by extension, their overall corporate philanthropy complexion.

Online or “virtual volunteering” allows people to help non-profits in a variety of ways, from web design and social media strategy, to translation, accounting, research, data entry and a host of other needs. This kind of skills-based volunteering allows virtual volunteers to contribute as much or as little time as they can, all from the convenience of their computers or smartphones. When employee volunteerism includes online opportunities and fundraising, your employees can effortlessly donate their time and talents.

Bringing Global Support to Local Nonprofits

Overcoming geographic boundaries and time constraints, virtual volunteering connects volunteers of various backgrounds, skills and cultures that may not be available locally to a charity, thereby enhancing an organization’s resources. The hope is to also mobilize additional support as virtual volunteers learn about a non-profit and the people it serves. In turn, volunteers can share this information with their companies and communities, creating a network of support.

You’ve got would-be volunteers who aren’t web wizards? No problem. If volunteers can read, write or do math, technology can help them tutor a child without even leaving their desks.

For example, Innovations for Learning, Inc. (IFL), an Illinois nonprofit that develops innovative technology to supplement reading and math instructional programs for K-2 classrooms, offers a web-based tutoring program that remotely pairs tutors and students. “Tele-tutors” talk to students over the phone while sharing a mutual screen on their respective computers, where they can read stories, work on word activities and do homework together. All of their work is integrated with the classroom instruction, and the tele-tutors are seen as an extension of the teacher while providing individualized attention to each student. Since no travel is involved, more time is spent working one-on-one with each student, allowing for convenience and flexibility for the tutor. Because of tele-tutoring, teachers have reported improved student performance; students look forward to their weekly virtual appointments and are motivated to work as they anticipate the call from their tutor.

Micro-Volunteering Makes it Even Easier to Contribute

Even if your employees only have ten minutes to volunteer, there’s an app for that. Using a touch of a button on your smartphone, you can “micro-volunteer” by doing simple volunteer projects in small increments of time. While they’re waiting for the bus or sitting in a boring meeting, your employees can be doing volunteer work.

Micro-volunteers are generally not required to undergo a screening process nor do they need to make a specific time commitment. Besides donating money, an example of micro-volunteer work is helping a museum add tag words to the tons of images in its database to help them be searchable for future use. By crowdsourcing the task of tagging the photos to micro-volunteers, the museum can catalog a greater number of photos without the expense of paying staff.

Companies such as cause integration leader Causecast make it easy for businesses to get their employees volunteering online. Causecast’s Community Impact Platform helps companies promote virtual volunteering opportunities within an online volunteer and giving platform, to make volunteering as accessible as possible for busy employees. And if the charities that a business wishes to support don’t offer virtual volunteering, Causecast will help those nonprofits develop online volunteer opportunities or source other nonprofits that can be supported through online volunteering.

So apply some strategic philanthropy to your corporate giving. Let your employees know that they can hop on their computer or phone, get to work, make the planet a better place and feel good about themselves. But carving out the time…now that’s the part only they can do.

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