Volunteering is a highly beneficial and rewarding way to employ your time. Not only can you contribute to important causes that could inevitably bring about substantial change, but you can also grow as an individual, attain valuable work experience and develop vital skills that can further your career.
However, for many of us, our hectic schedules, personal responsibilities and glorious chores leave little room to do any volunteering. Luckily, though, there are numerous online platforms that allow you to do meaningful volunteer work from the comfort of your home, even if you can only spare a couple hours a week.
So, if you would like to devote some of your free time to some good causes, check out these 20 online volunteering opportunities.
The United Nations Volunteers programme offers countless of online volunteering opportunities across the world. Like the rest of the UN’s efforts, this programme strives to boost sustainable human development.
Finding an opportunity that fits your interests on the UNV website is simple. Start by selecting a sector you’d like to work in, such as translation or teaching, and then navigate through the various opportunities that come up to find something that suits you.
VolunteerMatch helps non-profits connect with qualified volunteers, offering them recruitment solutions for their projects. Although they don’t exclusively offer online opportunities, they have a pretty broad section for people who want to volunteer from home.
You can find opportunities across a variety of sectors including arts and culture, computers and technology, advocacy and human rights, and health and medicine. Simply select a cause that interests you and then filter the results to find available virtual opportunities.
The idea behind Create the Good is to enable individuals to share their skills and passions within their community.
There are plenty of opportunities available and, depending on your skillset, you’ll find numerous causes that you can contribute to. You can work with veterans and military families, senior citizens, children and youth, and even discover family-friendly projects. There’s also a crisis hotline which you can staff if you want to help in a more hands-on manner.
Be My Eyes first launched in 2015 with a simple aim: create a more accessible world for visually impaired individuals. App users can request assistance in over 180 languages, and volunteers can lend their sight and help with everyday tasks.
All you have to do is download the app and join as a sighted volunteer. Whenever a blind or low-vision person needs help, be it to navigate their surroundings or read an expiration date, you’ll receive a live video call where you can communicate with them directly and help them out.
Do IT is a UK-wide volunteering database with over a million opportunities available. While most available initiatives are for local projects, there are many online volunteering opportunities, as well.
All you need to do is to filter your search by selecting ‘DOIT FROM HOME’ in Types and get started.
If you want to use your professional skills for good, Catchafire helps you connect with non-profits in need of your expertise and contribute to meaningful projects and initiatives.
Even if you’re short on time, you can still volunteer through their one-hour phone call option, where you can consult, offer vital advice and brainstorm with a non-profit.
If you’re passionate about teaching, the School in the Cloud gives volunteers the chance to run their own self-organised learning environments (SOLEs) as e-mediators. This isn’t limited to just educators, though; parents and communities can also use this platform to create SOLEs.
The purpose here is to encourage a self-learning process and provide a space for children from all around the world to work together to answer ‘Big Questions’ using the internet.
Translators without Borders offers language and translation support to non-profit organisations, development agencies and humanitarian groups. If you’re fluent in two or more languages, you can devote your time and make a difference in humanitarian crisis response as a translator or interpreter.
You can join this cause by signing up as a Kató volunteer translator, a rapid response volunteer translator, or both!
If you have a particular affinity for cartography, then Missing Maps – an initiative to map uncharted areas – could be for you. Volunteers help by mapping out areas where crisis teams and humanitarian organisations are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable communities and respond to natural or humanitarian disasters in a more efficient way.
Helping this organisation and its partners (including the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders) is as simple as looking at satellite images on your computer and then adding buildings and roads to maps. You don’t need any previous experience with mapping, either!
TechSoup provides organisations, charities and foundations with technology resources. It also offers help and expertise through its volunteers, who devote time to share tech tips and advice with these organisations.
So, if you’re on the tech-savvy side, this is an awesome way to use your IT expertise for good. As an online volunteer, you can offer your services by writing for TechSoup’s blog or by spending some time answering tech-related questions on TechSoup’s online forums to help NGOs.
Zooniverse is a popular platform for people-powered research. Here, volunteers help researchers by participating in research projects, spanning from arts and history to physics and literature to space and social sciences, and beyond.
There are various roles you could take on as a volunteer for Zooniverse. For example, you could help classify data in order to help science researchers, partake as a beta tester checking for potential bugs and other issues within a project before its launch, or volunteer as a project moderator acting as a point of contact for specific projects!
Grow Movement gives you the opportunity to work with budding entrepreneurs in developing countries. Once you complete 12 mentoring sessions, you’ll be able to mentor and teach an entrepreneur new skills and offer them advice on improving their business’s performance.
However, in order to become a mentor, you first need to meet a few requirements. These include five years of commercial, mentoring or teaching experience, and professional business qualifications such as law, accountancy or an MBA.
Amnesty Decoders is an international community of online volunteers that helps with the investigation of human rights violations. All you need is a trusty computer or smartphone which you can use to examine images, documents and other information.
As a volunteer, you can join several ongoing projects through Amnesty Decoders’ site and help Amnesty International uncover relevant data and further their efforts for fair human rights.
Crisis Text Line is completely dependent on its remote volunteers, so if you have 4 hours to spare every week and you are over 18 years old, you can help keep their free 24/7 service running by answering texts from people in crisis.
Before you can start volunteering, you will first receive a 30-hour training in collaborative problem solving, reflective listening and crisis management that will help you navigate through crisis intervention.
If you’re passionate about education, you can help Learning Ally support students with learning difficulties such as dyslexia and visual impairment. The organisation produces audiobook versions of curriculum-aligned textbooks and literature, helping learners stay engaged and independent.
You can get involved in one of three ways: record new audiobooks as a narrator; offer feedback to narrators regarding fluency, tone and pronunciation as a listener; or work in quality assurance and ensure there are no interferences within the recording.
Skills for Change provides learning and training opportunities to migrants and refugees, helping them actively participate in the workplace and their local communities.
Remote volunteers can offer their time as mentors for an hour a week over the course of four months. Alternatively, you can become a Skills for Change ambassador and help the charity in different ways, be it research, graphic design or web development.
Are you passionate about history? The Smithsonian Transcription Center seeks digital volunteers to help them transcribe historic documents and collection records in order to make material more accessible to the public.
From field notes to diaries and ledgers to logbooks and photo albums to manuscripts, you’ll be able to choose from a myriad of available documents before beginning the transcription process.
As one of the largest youth-led non-profit organisations around, DoSomething pushes for social change through both its online and offline campaigns. You can volunteer online by joining one (or more) of DoSomething’s campaigns and use the platform to act on different issues.
Bookshare is an eBook library dedicated to making reading easier for people with visual or learning difficulties.
If you’re based in the US, you can help Bookshare expand its growing book collection by scanning books using a scanner and OCR software. Alternatively, you can help by proofreading scanned files and formatting them if needed. International volunteers can also contribute but must contact Bookshare about available opportunities.
Distributed Proofreaders converts public domain books into eBooks with the help of volunteers. If you have an eye for detail and you’re passionate about preserving literary history, this could a be great way to volunteer your time.
The process is simple: you’ll compare a scanned image to an OCR text, proofread and send it back to the site once you’re done. There’s no commitment, either: you can volunteer as much or little as you’d like!
Volunteering online is an excellent way to use your free time, professional expertise and individual talents. After all, it’s up to us to use our privilege, education and experience to help those in need and bring about social change.
All you have to do now is pick a project that you can fit around your schedule and get started!
Can you recommend any other online volunteering platforms? Let us know in the comments section below!
This article is an update version of an earlier article originally published on 26 May 2017.