Volunteering--so many people want to do it, but in our busy lives it's safe to say that many of us don't feel like we're doing it enough. Whether you have a tight schedule or are finding it difficult to find your volunteer-niche, virtual volunteering can offer a solution.
As the Associate Director of a nationwide online volunteer-based program, I'm constantly reminded of the benefits of virtual volunteering. My nonprofit's program, BusinessAdvising.org, matches volunteer business advisors with small business owners in need, across the U.S. Our volunteer advisors beam about the flexibility, uniqueness and personal benefits they've reaped from our online opportunity. Read on to discover the three reasons why you might want to give virtual volunteering a try too.
1. Virtual volunteering is flexible and less time-intensive.
We often have the best intentions, meaning, most of us want to volunteer. But after a long day of work or family commitments, mustering up the energy to travel to a specific location and stand on your feet can feel more like a chore and less like a fulfilling experience. Which is why flexibility is one of the main benefits of virtual volunteering.
Virtual volunteering empowers a wider group of participants to give back, regardless of age or abilities. Not only can you more easily volunteer around your own schedule, but you don't need to travel or even change your clothes--you just need to pick up your phone or open a laptop--saving you time and energy to devote to the actual act of volunteering.
Often, in-person volunteering is based solely on what opportunities you can walk or drive to. Thus, another bonus of virtual volunteering is that your skills-sharing is not limited to a certain geography. Virtual volunteering means that a volunteer in California can support someone in need in Kentucky, and vice versa.
2. Virtual volunteering is usually skills-based.
Most virtual volunteering opportunities are skills-based. For example, a retired teacher might volunteer to help an early-stage educator--sharing learned-lessons and earned-expertise.
Or, as another example, an active marketing professional may volunteer to mentor a small business owner who needs help capturing an audience--sharing industry insights and the latest trends in the field. Volunteering can feel effortless when it taps into your unique set of skills.
3. Virtual volunteering plugs you into an online network.
One of the more unique benefits of virtual volunteering is that it's easier to connect and find even more opportunities amongst a network of peers. For example, people who volunteer as business advisors on BusinessAdvising.org are invited to a private LinkedIn group where they can easily connect with hundreds of like-minded people with in-demand skills.
In exchange for promotional buttons and t-shirts, many virtual volunteer programs offer digital badges that you can add to your social media profiles--announcing your commitment to giving back to the entire worldwide web.
Ready to give it a try?
If virtual volunteering sounds like something that you would like to try, I encourage you to start your search on BusinessAdvising.org. Our skills-based volunteers help small businesses nationwide grow and create jobs for working people in their communities. Virtually everyone has something to contribute--we're looking for professionals who have experience in HR, leadership, marketing, sales, IT, finance (and much more) to contribute just 5 hours of mentoring per month over the phone, email or Skype.
Consider the easier and more engaging way to volunteer--because chances are, virtual volunteering will enable you to volunteer more often. And really, what's better than that?
Do you have experience as a virtual volunteer? Share your story in the comments section below!
Eli Raber is Associate Director of Pacific Community Ventures' Small Business Advising program. Eli connects entrepreneurs with volunteer advisors and the valuable resources and they need to run and grow their businesses successfully. You can follow Pacific Community Ventures on Twitter @PCVTweets