Friday, February 25, 2005

Be a virtual volunteer.

Nowadays it's easier than ever to volunteer with an organization whose cause you believe in. All you need is your computer! Here are two sites to get you started:

* is a project of the United Nations.
* is a US-based volunteer clearinghouse.

"But how can I help my favorite organization by sitting at my computer?" Here's how:

* Grant writing - Many organizations survive because of grants but there are always so many to apply for. You can help by writing the grant proposal for your favorite organization. My friend Nana did this and got a $10,000 grant funded for Aid to Children of Imprisoned Mothers. Great work, Nana!

* Website or graphic design - This can be a great way to get experience in web design. Your favorite organization gets a great new site, and you get design experience and a page to point to showcase to new clients.

* E-mail pen-pal - Some organizations are looking for e-mail pen-pals for senior citizens or servicewomen and men. The Orphan Foundation of America needs virtual mentors forcurrent and former foster youth ages 18-23.

* Raise money on E-bay - Use your existing E-bay account to sell goods and then have the money sent to your favorite organization. Perhaps you'll choose Modest Needs, since that's where I got the idea. Learn more here.

* Transcription/translation - Many organizations need translation or transcription services. If you're multilingual this may be a great way for you to serve.

* Research - Your favorite organization may need research done to write a grant proposal or press release. Maybe you can do that research. For example, is looking for "talented and dedicated people to prepare our initial database of corporations, and to make connections with like-minded groups."

* Database development or management - Since this is usually computer based, why not use your computer to do the work.

* Copy editing - Your favorite organization may need to have reports, grant proposals and other written material copy edited. If they email the draft to you, you can edit it and send it back. Service provided!

So now you can sit at home and still serve. For more tips on volunteering (online and in person), see the December 28th post and the December 3rd post.


Karama said...

During this most recent round of elections, I talked a lot with a poll-worker who happened to be "an ex-con". When I first met him, during the primaries, we talked a bit about the presidential candidates and he told me that he couldn't participate in the process because he was an ex-con and couldn't vote. That, of course, is not true.

I listed several things he could do: donate money, call potential voters, campaign among his friends and family, drive folks to the polls, etc. Even though he's an ex-con, he still lives here and should contribute positively to the community. We talked more during the runoffs, and finally during our last conversation in November, he proudly told me which candidate he supported and why.

We all can serve. We all should serve. No excuses.

Anonymous said...


What a wonderful idea. Thanks for this post. A friend and I were bemoaning the fact that we don't have time for volunteering anymore. I used to be a literacy tutor, but no longer do this due time constraints. Maybe there are other areas in which my friend or I can serve online. THanks again!


Karama said...

I'm glad you like this idea, Beronda. The UN site is great and there are volunteer opportunities all over the world for folks with all kinds of skills. Many of the projects are short term, which can work well for folks with busy schedules. Check out the profiles of the "Online Volunteers of the Year" for some thoughts on how the process works. Good luck to you and your friend. Enjoy!

Karama said...

Also, check out this national list of volunteer opportunities.

Karama said...

Here's another idea: Be a virtual mentor to current and former foster youth ages 18-23. "Mentors receive pre-service and ongoing training and support as they work with their mentees on issues such as goal planning, course selection and career guidance, and strategies for success in school and in the workplace."

For more information on foster care, see the May 25th post.

Karama said...

Learn more about Geekcorps, which offers many ways to travel and serve using your computer skills. See the May 26th post for more information.

ng2000 said...

Valuable resource of volunteer news summaries:

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