Examples of Virtual Volunteering Activities


People engaged in virtual volunteering undertake a variety of activities, long and short (micro volunteering) and everything in between, from locations remote to the organization or people they are assisting, via a computer or other Internet-connected device. And they're having a big impact. Tasks include:
  • translating documents (and proofreading the translations by others)
  • researching subjects
  • designing web pages (designing the pages)
  • editing or writing proposals, press releases, newsletter articles, video scripts, web pages, etc.
  • designing any publication
  • developing material for a curriculum
  • transcribing scanned documents
  • designing a database
  • designing graphics
  • providing legal, business, medical, agricultural, financial or any other expertise (answering questions, creating a strategy, commenting on a strategy, reviewing or evaluating data, etc.)
  • serving on a committee or advisory board. An example is the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee, a panel of online volunteer editors responsible for conducting the Wikipedia arbitration process. It has the authority to impose binding solutions to disputes between editors, primarily for serious conduct disputes the community has been unable to resolve.
  • counseling people
  • tutoring or mentoring students regarding homework, writing assignments, online safety, professional development
  • moderating or facilitating online discussion groups or live online events
  • writing songs
  • finding or creating recipes to share (for instance, sharing healthy recipes that utilize specific ingredients for a food pantry that serves low-income individuals affected by HIV and AIDS; the recipes are distributed at the pantry with those items. Online volunteers' efforts provide ideas for healthy and diverse ways to use the groceries clients receive)
  • populating a database with information, such as recipes for people with diabetes, or recycling ideas, or information about access points into a mass transit system accessible for people with mobility issues, and on and on
  • interviewing new candidates for a program, class, volunteering, employment...
  • creating a podcast (writing the script, editing the audio, adding in intro and exit music, reading text, etc.)
  • editing a video (or creating one video out of many video clips)
  • captioning a video
  • transcribing a podcast
  • monitoring the news to look for specific subjects
  • answering questions
  • tagging photos and files with keywords (so that they can be more easily found by internal staff, search engines, the press, etc.)
  • managing other online volunteers

Note that online assignments come in a variety of forms: some require a particular expertise, some don't; some require screening and a long-term commitment, while others could be done just once, in a few minutes or hours, by a volunteer who may or may not ever help again (micro volunteering). The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook (available for purchase as a paperback and an ebook from Energize, Inc). offers detailed information on how to identify and create various virtual volunteering opportunities, including micro volunteering.

It's worth noting that online micro-volunteering was originally called "byte-sized volunteering" by the Virtual Volunteering Project, and has always been a part of the more than 30-year-old practice of online volunteering. An early example of both micro-volunteering and crowdsourcing is ClickWorkers, a small NASA project begun in 2001 that engaged online volunteers in scientific-related tasks that required just a person's perception and common sense, but not scientific training, such as identifying craters on Mars in photos the project posted online; volunteers were not trained or screened before participating. The phrase micro-volunteering is usually credited to a San Francisco-based nonprofit called The Extraordinaries.

If you an online volunteer, you are encouraged to submit a photo of yourself to this Flickr group for online volunteers.

The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook has even more examples, in much greater detail, about what virtual volunteering can (and does) look like. The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook is available for purchase as a paperback and an ebook from Energize, Inc.

This wiki is a collaborative space for sharing resources regarding virtual volunteering. Jayne and Susan would like to maintain this wiki in partnership with a nonprofit or university.

For press reps & bloggers

We are happy to offer assistance for press reps and bloggers that want to write/produce an article, story, broadcast, webcast, podcast, etc., about virtual volunteering.

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