Virtual or On-line Volunteering
Excerpted from chapter 5, "Current Issues Influencing Volunteering" in Volunteer Program Management: An Essential Guide 3rd Edition by Joy Nobel, Louise Rogers, Andy Fryar, published by Volunteering SA and NT, Adelaide, Australia.
The growth of opportunities for volunteers to be involved in volunteering "remotely" via the internet has been another trend that has increased in prominence.
The internet has had a threefold effect on volunteer agencies:
First - it has allowed Volunteer Program Managers the opportunity to better network with colleagues around the world - and to stay in contact with current trends.
Secondly - many volunteer organisations now use the internet as a tool for recruitment - specially designated web pages such as Volunteering Australia's "GoVolunteer" site or via application forms on volunteer organisations' home pages. Organisations not using the internet as a recruitment tool are at a great disadvantage.
Thirdly - many volunteers are exploring ways to get involved in volunteering through the medium of technology. Examples of this may include:
- developing policies and providing advice
- creating and maintaining databases for not-for-profit organisations
- befriending a client via email or chat rooms
- offering support to a project by way of information exchange
- researching the available information on a particular topic on behalf of a volunteer agency.
"Virtual" volunteers in your volunteer team no longer need to live in your local suburb or even call into the office in order to do their volunteer work. However, while virtual volunteering offers the opportunity to volunteer on the other side of the world, most virtual volunteering occurs locally.
Another implication is that people with disabilities have been able to become involved in a whole range of volunteering activities that were not previously available to them. This particularly true of individuals with speech or mobility disabilities.
The internet has also had similar implications for those people living in remote rural communities to get involved in volunteering.
The challenges are:
how to monitor the work of virtual volunteers and effectively relay the needs of the organisation.
- Volunteer Program Managers need to consider how to give adequate support to volunteers they never meet in person
- how to effectively recruit and screen virtual volunteers
Permission is granted for organizations to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must provide full acknowledgment of the source, as cited here:
Excerpted from chapter 5, "Current Issues Influencing Volunteering" in Volunteer Program Management: An Essential Guide 3rd Edition by Joy Nobel, Louise Rogers, Andy Fryar, published by Volunteering SA and NT, Adelaide, Australia. Found in the Energize, Inc. Online Bookstore athttp://www.energizeinc.com/store/5-210-E-2.