Virtual volunteering

However, the big difference between a virtual volunteer and the traditional volunteering model is that the virtual volunteer operates on their own time schedule, from their own choice of workplace.  The internet has enabled time poor people to give and engage with a host of charities, and giving of their time and skills is particularly suited to this medium.

Virtual volunteers lend themselves well to short term projects, such as a piece of artwork, the collating of information into a document or a piece of website work.  But they could also be effectively leveraged through the online social networks.  Imagine having a volunteer who uses facebook, another who uses MySpace, another who is an avid twitterer.  Now, imagine that each of these people, who enjoy playing with their social network of choice, is actively promoting your brand and your message and spreading awareness of your cause.  This active engagement by enthusiastic volunteers could shift your entire public relations efforts into a different gear.

Tools to enable virtual volunteers

  • email - easy and ubiquitous.  A virtual volunteer's first port of call.
  • skype - free calls and really good instant messaging.
  • logmein - this can enable a remote worker to log into an organisation's desktop PC as if they were in the office
  • social networks - for promotion and engagement
  • google docs - share and collaborate on documents - even edit at the same time, all online
  • online CRM or other tools (SaaS) - the software as a service model allows organisations to put entire parts of their business processes online in a secure and accessible manner, which naturally gives scope to allow virtual volunteers access.