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News About Virtual Volunteering
Not every organization engaged in virtual volunteering uses that term; you will note that the volunteers at many of the initiatives talked about in the articles below are never referred to as digital volunteers, online volunteers, etc. - they are called, simply,
. Or counselors. Or mappers. We find some of these articles because we use
to let us know when there is an online article that uses
terms that relate to virtual volunteering
, but we also find many articles just because we happen to be reading a magazine, online or in print, and there's an article about virtual volunteering activities that
uses that term.
this page of RSS feeds
that automatically link to the latest web pages, blogs, and other online materials that use terms that relate to virtual volunteering. This is automatically-generated content; we do not control what shows up on these RSS feeds or what online materials get linked.
If a link is broken, please type it into
to retrieve an archived version of the article.
Note that these are articles, as opposed to
research and academic papers, which can be found here
Help us keep track of news about virtual volunteering!
form to submit an update to this page
. Please submit actual NEWS, not opinion pieces or "how to" blogs.
If you tweet about
Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
please use the tag
Last updated: 27 April 2017
27 April 2017:
This All-Virtual Volunteer Group Is Revolutionizing The Way We Respond To Crisis
. A profile by
Crisis Text Line
, a nationwide text line for people experiencing pain and trauma, that utilizes online volunteers for response.
17 April 2017: We've created
this listing of 300 tweets celebrating & promoting microvolunteering
, from April 10 to April 17, 2017, via
. These tweets used the tag
. Microvolunteering Day is April 15 and was founded by
. Not all microvolunteering is regarding online tasks, but much of it is. Looking through these tweets is a great way to see examples of online microvolunteering (it's how we found out about the Home Front Legacy project, listed below).
17 April 2017:
Using an app, Flickr & tags to map WWI sites across the UK
Home Front Legacy project
, based at the Council for British Archaeology, mobilizes remote volunteers in British communities identify and map the remains of local First World War (WW1) sites across the United Kingdom. Volunteers document and preserve stories and vulnerable remains for future generations using the project's
recording toolkit app
and the project's
. Volunteers use the app to find and document forgotten camps and practice trenches, they search local archives to discover WW1 sites, such as a local factory was turned over to munitions manufacture or local buildings that were used as drill halls, hospitals or prisoner of war camps, etc. The project also identifies sites associated with events, such as air crashes, bombings, naval raids and strikes. In addition to the
recording toolkit app
, there's also online trainings for volunteers. The project posted
this tweet on Microvolunteering Day 2017
, to show a map with all of the various sites across the UK that the project's remote volunteers have mapped.
13 April 2017:
96 Online Volunteers
, recruited through the
UN's Online Volunteering service
, collaborated with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs to process research surveys carried out across UN Member States for the UN E-Government Survey. The project underpinned the role of volunteerism as a valuable solution to sustainable development, and is the second time online volunteers have been mobilized for this effort. The survey, done every two years, assesses the use of information technology to provide public services to citizens. During the four-month long intense collaboration, online volunteers contributed to the data collection of 386 research surveys and the analysis of national-level government portals. Anush Kocharyan, UN Online Volunteer from Armenia says, “Coordinators were always available to answer questions and clarify ambiguous situations. A platform for communication among the online volunteers was created as well, which ensured effective communication and knowledge sharing among the whole team. Volunteers asked and answered each other's questions.”
6 March 2017
How Many Online Volunteers Does It Take to Transcribe Phyllis Diller’s 53,000 Jokes?
When it comes to transcribing historical texts as a Smithsonian Digital Volunteer, some projects can be more entertaining than others. Not that transcribing specimen labels for 44,000 bumblebees or variations of tropical pollen can’t be interesting, in their way. But what about the joke files of Phyllis Diller? The Smithsonian Transcription Center began in 2013, relying on volunteers to help transcribe field notes, diaries, levers, logbooks and specimen labels from eight various Smithsonian museums and archives, some 7,500 volunteers have signed up to transcribe more than 225,000 pages. But when Diller’s jokes came up for transcription last week, “they are going like gangbusters,” says Meghan Ferriter, project coordinator. “I think we actually gained about 115 new volunteers in one day.”
25 February 2017. Online volunteers aren't always remote; hackathons and Wikipedia edit-a-thons bring together people in the same physical space, at the same time, to volunteer online, to code for good, to create content for the arts or under-represented groups or science topics on WIkipedia, and more. From
Why Trump's election scares data scientists
, a story on CNN:
was founded after the election, with a goal of tracking and safeguarding government data. The volunteer group of hackers, writers, scientists and students collects federal data about climate change in order to preserve the information and keep it publicly accessible. In the past three months, Data Refuge has hosted 17 events where hundreds of volunteers figure out how to copy and publish research-quality data. The group, which grew out of the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, also monitors scientific research that depends on government funding because there's concern this could dry up. These fears are stoked by the fact that some content has already been removed from agencies' websites. For instance, ProPublica found that the Trump administration edited an educational website for kids to significantly downplay the negative impacts of coal. The White House also removed all of the data from its portal of searchable federal data. The site previously included data on everything from budgets to climate change to LGBT issues. It now displays a message telling people to: "Check back soon for new data." To gear up for potential data droughts, groups are organizing through traditional social tools like Twitter and Facebook. One platform, data.world, is a social network exclusively for people who want to find and collaborate on building data sets, much like how programming site GitHub lets coders collaborate on building apps. It already has tens of thousands of open government data sets available. See the Feb. 13 story below as well.
20 February 2017
"Cyber volunteer" asked to disseminate msgs of misogyny, Islamophobia and hate
on behalf of the government political party she supports. In her new book,
I am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Digital Army
, broadcast journalist Swati Chaturvedi contends that the ruling party in India is orchestrating online campaigns to intimidate perceived government critics through its social media online volunteers.
13 February 2017
Diehard Coders Just Rescued NASA’s Earth Science Data
. Online volunteers aren't always remote; hackathons and Wikipedia edit-a-thons bring together people in the same physical space, at the same time, to volunteer online, to code for good, to create content for the arts or under-represented groups or science topics on WIkipedia, and more. This
article talks about volunteers coming together across the USA to preserve online scientific information and other info they fear will be permanently removed from government web sites under the Trump administration, and building systems to monitor ongoing changes to government websites. By the end of the day, one group had collectively loaded 8,404 NASA and DOE webpages onto the
, effectively covering the entirety of NASA’s earth science efforts. They’d also built backdoors in to download 25 gigabytes from 101 public datasets, and were expecting even more to come in as scripts on some of the larger dataset finished running. But there is still much work to do. “Climate change data is just the tip of the iceberg,” says Eric Kansa, an anthropologist who manages archaeological data archiving for the non-profit group Open Context. “There are a huge number of other datasets being threatened with cultural, historical, sociological information.” A panicked friend at the National Parks Service had tipped him off to a huge data portal that contains everything from park visitation stats to GIS boundaries to inventories of species.
5 February 2017. WorldHacks, a podcast from the BBC World News service, did a
23-minute piece on Be My Eyes
, an app that allows online volunteers to assist people that are sight-impaired. At about the 8 minute mark, they talk to an online volunteer about why she helps, and discover what's common among all virtual volunteering initiatives, something Jayne and Susan point out frequently: there are far more people that want to volunteer online than there are opportunities for them to undertake. At about 11:25, they start talking about microvolunteering by name. Producers aren't aware of just how well established the practice is,
the research to date
24 January 2017:
, microvolunteering's #1 promoter, has passed away. Mike launched the
Help From Home
, entirely on his own and leveraged the Internet brilliantly to promote this form of episodic virtual volunteering, giving it more attention than it has ever had before. Because of his extensive work, we link to him on this wiki and we have a photo of Mike on page 31 of
The //Last// Virtual Volunteering Guidebook//
, in the section about microvolunteering (of course). Jayne featured Mike prominently in
for the European Commission, the government of the EU, regarding
the prevalence and potential of virtual volunteering in Europe
. From Jayne: "I would say that it’s because of Mike’s efforts to track microvolunteering in the UK that I am able to say the UK is #2, behind Spain and, perhaps, tied with Poland, for having the greatest amount of virtual volunteering in Europe." Mike’s contributions and promotions regarding microvolunteering have been invaluable to nonprofits, NGOs, charities, and other organizations all over the world – and his legacy will be all that he wrote and researched on the subject.
More on Jayne's blog
24 January 2017:
Digital campaigning: Couch potatoes or mouse-armed warriors?
"Several civil society organizations are promoting slacktivism, or clicktivism campaigns if you prefer a more positive term, as a fast way to engage users in supporting social causes exclusively through digital channels.Its supporters highlight its viral properties and the easy way to quantify campaign results. Their detractors criticize poor engagement level from recipients."
24 January 2017: The Internet, and Facebook in particular, were used to organize both participants in the January 21, 2017 Women's Marches, the largest day of protests in USA history, and to recruit and manage the volunteers supporting these events.
This blog looks at lessons learned
, from using Facebook to organize and support March Day volunteers and activists, and shows just how onsite volunteers often start off as online volunteers.
5 December 2016:
The Virtual Volunteering Project officially launched 20 years ago in December
. It provided the first comprehensive study of all forms of virtual volunteering, including identifying microvolunteering, which it called "byte sized volunteering." It was the first attempt by anyone, anywhere, to research online volunteer service and document what works, and what doesn’t. This blog offers an opportunity to reminisce about this pioneering effort.
27 November 2016:
China's largest ride-sharing company, Didi Chuxing
Chuxing, announced that its app will double up as a broadcasting platform to notify riders to look out for missing children, meaning "
Didi's nearly-400 million users in more than 400 Chinese cities will be part of a virtual volunteer network
to help missing children reunite with their families." The Didi app would flash an alert with key information on the case to its users, including the child's name, gender, age, last seen location and the contact for the local police.
15 November 2016:
is a cloud-based platform that
connects K-12 classrooms to space and astronomical industry professionals virtually
. K-12 teachers create requests for virtual sessions with professionals about a topic their class is currently studying, and then Nepris will notify potential presenters about those opportunities. Past teacher-requested sessions about astronomy have included how planets are identified, an overview of the International Space Station, and more. Since Nepris creates matches based on industry and skills, those applying to volunteer should note their American Astronomical Society membership and summarize their astronomy experience (along with any other talents) in their information.
More information from AAS
7 November 2016
Al Gore Campaign Pioneered Virtual Volunteering
. An article from Jayne Cravens, co-author of
Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
. It's about how this campaign, back in 2000, championed virtual volunteering, including microvolunteering, and even had an “app” for people with personal digital assistants (PDAs), the precursor to the smart phone.
25 October 2016: Reference attorney Jessica Pisano Jones co-wrote an article with fellow Law Librarians of New England (LLNE) members Nicole Dyszlewski and Joshua LaPorte that shows how the
LLNE Service Committee assigned volunteers to complete short-term discrete tasks - microvolunteering
- to accommodate the busy schedules of their members and to have more people engaged in the Service Committee’s fall Books Behind Bars book drive.
21 October 2016: In this article on
Motivating employees through volunteerism
, virtual volunteering is mentioned as one of many options for employees at SAP. The article is noted here because it's so nice to see virtual volunteering embraced as normal, rather than something as oh-so-new and somehow radical.
9 October 2016:
CBS Sunday Morning did a story about a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra who used online video conferencing for more than a year to mentor a young Afghan trumpet player
. The Afghan musician, Baset Azizi, contacted the expert trumpeter, David Bilger, via Facebook, telling him he wanted to get better. Bilger would mentor Azizi from his basement, playing for him, listening to Azizi play, giving feedback and offering exercises for Azizi to improve. Baset got accepted into the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts high school near Traverse City, Michigan. Bilger helped raise more than $30,000 to pay for Azizi's schooling. It's virtual volunteering - though CBS never said so.
27 September 2016,
The Himalayan Times
the potential of virtual volunteering in Nepal
: "A large number of young Nepalis live in other countries. Digital volunteerism can be a significant way to retain their expertise in different aspects of the country’s development... The spontaneous engagement of Nepalis on volunteering activities after the devastating earthquake on April 25, 2015 shows how much they are embedded with the essence of volunteerism to help those in need."
10 September 2016:
The Perks of Being a Volunteer: My experience as a virtual volunteer with GreatNonprofits
, a testimonial from an online volunteer. "from anywhere in the world you can work to support and grow organizations you believe in. Virtual volunteering with GreatNonprofits helped me grow as a writer, a future employee, and a person.
As a part of my volunteer position at GreatNonprofits, I get to think a lot about stories and what makes them work. Imagine sipping your first cup of coffee as you read about a mother who got to see the joy on her child’s face thanks to a local Christmas gift drive or a veteran who went deep-sea fishing and found friends who truly understand her."
24 August 2016: In part because of a
blog from the software company Timecounts that assumes virtual volunteering isolates volunteers
, guidebook author Jayne Cravens published
this blog on research needs regarding virtual volunteering
, and strongly discouraging researchers and others from perpetuating
myths about virtual volunteering
, such as that virtual volunteering is isolating for volunteers, while onsite volunteering is not.
23 August 2016:
the American Red Cross in Michigan is recruiting online volunteers
to help disaster relief efforts in Louisiana. opportunities include being a virtual case worker and being a call center representative.
22 August 2016:
Virtual Volunteering: It's oh-so-personal
. A blog by
Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
co-author Jayne Cravens about just how personal it's felt for her to work with online volunteers for more than two decades. "I’ve been researching virtual volunteering for more than 20 years now, and the biggest shock for most people that aren’t familiar with the practice and hear me talk about it at length is just how close I feel to so many of the volunteers and volunteer-involving agencies all over the world. They are my friends and colleagues, just as real as people I work with onsite, face-to-face. These are all real people with hopes and fears and challenging ideas and humor and talents. So many of these online relationships, established through email and Twitter and online communities, are so very, very personal to me."
July - October 2016, Volume XVI, Issue 4,
Discovering How Informal and Micro-volunteering Can Attract Wider Community Engagement
. An article, available by subscription, on how Lutheran Community Care SA/NT (LCC) in South Australia and the Northern Territory is leveraging non-traditional forms of volunteering, including online microvlunteering, to reach new audiences.
20 July 2016: a nonprofit organization in Columbus, Ohio,
, uses technology to recruit Millennials, specifically, for service projects,
as this story in the Nonprofit Quarterly notes
. Users receive badges once they hit milestones such as five hours per year, 40 hours in the last two years, or top-ten volunteer. Advice on how to use online badges for volunteer recognition is talked about in
Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
13 July 2016:
Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
co-author Jayne Cravens
blogs about the importance of risk management in virtual volunteering programs
, per seeing a proliferation of online volunteering initiatives, highlighting how the guidebook addresses this sensitive but important subject. She points out what is emphasized in the book many times: the fundamentals of successful, appropriate engagement of volunteers - volunteer management - apply both offline and
9 July 2016: The website Modern Hiker posted a photo of an image that had been spray painted an image on boulder in a Joshua Tree National Park parking lot, and
ask readers to help track down the culprit who had committed the vandalism
. And the readers did, discovering that the vandal was French national and nightclub impresario Andre Saraiva, who had taken a photo of his "work" and then posted the photo on Instagram. By comparing Saraina’s own social media feeds with Google satellite maps, longitude and latitude coordinates and field notes of concerned citizens, Modern Hiker readers - online volunteers - were able to pinpoint and publish the boulder’s exact location, find the image on Saraina's Instagram account, and pinpoint and publish every site Saraiva visited that day. The information triggered a National Park Service investigation that confirmed Saraiva as the culprit. Saraiva initially took a defensive stance, denying the boulder was in a national park. His lawyers even demanded that Modern Hiker remove its article about him. But Internet sleuths kept digging, finding incriminating statements by the semi-celebrity like a 2013 online interview with a website called “The Talks” where he said: “Everything I do comes from the attitude I learned from graffiti. If I want to do something, I do it. If I want to paint this rooftop, if I want to paint this train, or a place that’s very difficult to access, I’m going to go and paint it. And I’ve kept that attitude with everything I do." He claims that he removed the painting from the rock himself four days after painting it, before he was caught. (see similar story from June 22, 2016 - below)
27 June 2016: The nonprofit organization
Crisis Text Line
reports that it has trained more than 1,500 online volunteer crisis counselors, and exchanged more than 19 million text messages with people in crisis. Available in the U.S., anyone who feels they are in crisis can text 741741. They then receive an automated text asking what their crisis is. Within minutes of responding, a live, trained online volunteer responds to help the texter through the moment of crisis and to help the person develop a plan to continue to feel better, including to seek the help they need. All contact and information is shared anonymously.
Crisis Text Line has recently received $23.8 million from various backers
, including LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and Melinda Gates. Crisis Text Line plans to focus on integrating with tech companies to provide support to users inside things like After School, Kik, YouTube and Facebook Messenger, and providing versions of its service for other organizations and locations, such as the National Eating Disorder Association and cities like Newark and Atlanta. Currently, according to Crisis Text Line real-time surveying: 80% of texters report being under the age of 25, 6% say they are Native American and 14% Hispanic, and 19% of the texting volume comes from the 10% lowest-income zip codes. To become a Crisis Counselor, an online volunteering position, an applicant must: pass a background check (no felonies and no violent or sex-offense misdemeanors), have a US Social Security number, be at least 18 years old, have access to a computer with a secure, reliable internet connection, commit to volunteering 4 hours a week for 1 year, and agree to the organization's
Code of Conduct
25 June 2016:
Digital volunteers out to help town centre businesses
. Businesses in Paisley town centre, in Scotland, could soon have the help of an army of digital volunteers. Renfrewshire Council appointed a new digital volunteer coordinator. “We need to work out how Paisley’s businesses can use the internet and social media as a tool to attract people to our town centre, who can then experience the warm welcome that our town centre community has to offer." These will be volunteers helping for-profit businesses but, ultimately, also the people of their community
22 June 2016:
Via Reddit, online volunteers helped find a graffiti artist who defaced national parks
. After spending a month drawing and painting on the rocks in seven national parks, Casey Nocket, 23, of San Diego, was banned this month from national parks and other federally administered lands, according to the National Park Service. The conviction is owed largely to a band of Reddit users faithful to keeping natural spaces free from what the NPS called vandalism.
20 June 2016, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh (UP), India: To keep an eye on and counter "online rumour-mongering",
police in Bareilly, India are planning to recruit 2,000 digital volunteers
to report on and counter "communally-sensitive messages and polarization propaganda" that "has potential to disturb peace in the region." A deputy inspector general of police, Ashutosh Kumar, said "We need at least 2,000 digital volunteers to tackle rumours and wrong information posted on social media sites... A riot-like situation takes place at many locations due to false rumours spread on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other such sites. As UP is gearing for state assembly elections, scheduled for next year, there are chances that few persons will try to mislead people for their communal agenda, creating law and order problem. To thwart their attempts, we need such initiatives."
15 June 2016, Ontario, Canada:
County launches new digital volunteer team and emergency preparedness website
The of county Lambton is launching its first digital volunteer team to monitor social media posts and to respond to public concerns during community emergencies. About 20 county staff have signed on so far to volunteer their time outside of work to monitor Twitter and Facebook during significant emergencies like severe storms. "They won't be with interacting with the public online, but instead they'll be acting as the digital eyes for county emergency management and communication officials to come up with a response to the situation at hand." County officials tested out the concept of a digital volunteer team at the fourth annual Canada/U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiment held at the end of April.
02 June 2016, San Francisco, California:
Why Do So Few Women Edit Wikipedia?
Those that edit Wikipedia are called Wikipedians, and they are online volunteers. But relatively few of them are women. The most recent survey of users, in 2011, found just 9% of worldwide contributors to the site were women; in the U.S., it was 15%. In 2015, Jimmy Wales, the founder of the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the site, said that the organization failed to meet its goal of increasing women’s participation to 25% by 2015, despite launching several initiatives. Two professors, Julia Bear of Stony Brook University’s College of Business and Benjamin Collier of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, decided to explore the issue from the perspective of women who had been behind the scenes to see whether the experience of editing articles differs for women and men, and whether this influences how much they edit. Women reported feeling less confident about their expertise, less comfortable with editing others’ work (a process which often involves conflict), and reacting more negatively to critical feedback than men. The
results were published in the journal Sex Roles
in January 2016.
26 May 2016 "Crowdsourcing is an integral part of our organization as we believe that strong participatory processes can pave the way for a better future, in which the values of the majority are reflected in major decision making and outcomes. So here's a window into our core principles!" So proclaims this blog by
. Crowdsourcing is form of virtual volunteering.
The blog provides links to examples of OpenMedia's crowdsourced action plans for online
, and our Internet Voice Tools on
EU copyright policy
U.S. net neutrality
. "We even crowdsource what we should say during
with government ministers! Our processes and methods of crowdsourcing are based on our belief that the best ideas come those most impacted by our work, and that the challenges we face are really the result of a democratic deficit in governing institutions."
23 May 2016: “an online community or social media destination is not just another web site. Engaging with members of your community online may result in new product or service lines, or entirely new approaches to conducting current activities.” So quotes this article
How to Create and Leverage Online Communities and Why
about the value of online communities, echoing what is said in
//The// Last //Virtual Volunteering Guidebook//
regarding the importance of setting up an online community for all of your volunteers (and regularly engaging with such). The article is a big jargony, with phrases like "successful and transformative market leaders" and "flexible configurations of sub communities," and it isn't particularly focused on nonprofits and other mission-based organizations, but it's recommendations are all relatable to the nonprofit and public sectors.
23 May 2016, Hawaii: The Hedonisia Hawaii Sustainable Community Rain Forest Retreat, a "feminist eco-tourist community,"
details the diverse tasks undertaken by online volunteers in support of its work
. And an added bonus for its online volunteers: qualified applicants can use their online volunteering hours in exchange for a deep discount on a future stay at the Hedonisia Hawaii site. Online volunteers that qualify pay a $75 registration for their stay and, for example, "if a volunteer has worked 30 hours virtually, then they only have to pay $75 for a two-week stay at our community in Hawaii. The $75 fee is good for stays up to two months." Most of our positions are registered with
11 May 2016: a for-profit company,
, has branded its various community engagement projects under their own name,
Marketo Engaged, and these projects include a virtual volunteering component
. "Employees around the world participate in an array of individual, team, and virtual volunteer opportunities on an ongoing basis to support the education pathways of under-resourced students. These activities include one-on-one mentoring and tutoring, a variety of team volunteer events, and Marketo's annual Global Volunteer Month in July. In 2015, Marketo employees donated nearly 1,700 hours of service to tutoring and training under-served students, revitalizing an elementary school, and more. There is a
video about the Marketo Engaged program from January 2016
30 April 2016:
is a new online platform that connects Palestinian NGOs, social enterprises, initiatives and online volunteers from across the world. Currently Bilbaal (which means 'on your mind') is in beta phase, and has 20 registered NGOs, over 100 volunteers from across the world and 10,000 Facebook followers. Bilbaal employs a ratings system to ensure that both volunteers and organisations are credible. Bilbaal is not affiliated with any religion, government, or political ideology. The most in-demand volunteer service is pro-bono work like translation, PR and communications, fundraising, and legal support. While most of the available volunteering opportunities are for people abroad, a third of the volunteering opportunities are for people on the ground. A Dubai-based NGO serving Palestinians urgently needed a lawyer; a request was put out via the Bilbaal network and within one hour a lawyer offered his services pro bono to the NGO. A founder is
quoted in this article
, saying: "We created a place where anyone could find a sense of personal purpose within the Palestinian cause, a way to give back using their professional skills. We believe there's a lot of talent out there, a lot of people who want to help but don't know how."
11 April 2016
Inside Bernie Sanders' vast, virtual ground game
. According to this article by
, USA Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' organizational success is fueled by free or low-cost, off-the-shelf apps like Hustle and Slack, and the ability to turn online fans into a real volunteers, online and onsite. He is turning "slacktivists" who don't normally engage in grass-roots politics "into an advance team capable of doing everything from managing phone banks to planning high-level campaign events," at a rate even greater than President Obama or Howard Dean did in their campaigns which pioneered the mobilization of online volunteers in presidential campaigns. "Sanders' virtual volunteers do campaign work that has traditionally been handled by paid operatives or fallen through the cracks in a busy election cycle — such as identifying likely voters or turning out people to campaign events." While email has raised millions of dollars, direct email solicitations largely failed to get supporters to donate their labor. "We could email a million people who said they wanted to volunteer, and we would get just dozens actually making calls," said Zack Exley, a Sanders adviser and veteran of Dean’s 2004 White House run. However, email did fill seats at "barnstorms," organizing rallies where Sanders' digital staffers update supporters on the campaign’s strategy in cities across the country. "The virtual water cooler for Sanders volunteers is the group chat app Slack, popular among Silicon Valley start-ups and big media companies, which allows thousands of volunteers to share best practices and organize shifts... The campaign has also turned to the texting app Hustle, which lets the volunteer Text for Bernie team — about 1,200 people — send personalized texts at the rate of a bulk email marketer to get people to phone banks... During an actual phone bank, unpaid live-chat support agents are there to hold hands with volunteers as they cold-call strangers using Web-based software called LiveVox."
25 March 2016:
Social microvolunteering app could support Alzheimer's caregivers
. A team of researchers, including David Wilkerson at the Indiana University School of Social Work at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, will use an innovation grant awarded by the Regenstrief Institute to see whether a social microvolunteering app developed for Facebook could help provide support many caregivers are now lacking. The team will investigate small groups of five to eight caregivers; each group will have a Facebook account. The group will be asked what informational and emotional support questions it would like to get answered in alternating weeks of the research. The social microvolunteering app retrieves their answers, and relevant answers are sent back to the caregiver group for deliberation. The online caregivers' group will discuss online which answers seem the most relevant and then take action.
24 March 2016:
Snapchat’s Potential Power for Social Good – with REAL examples
. This is a blog by Jayne Cravens, co-author of
//The// Last //Virtual Volunteering Guidebook//
, about whether or not SnapChat is an effective tool for nonprofits, charities, NGOs, government agencies and other mission-based organizations regarding volunteer engagement and awareness-building. Unlike most other articles on this subject, this blog has several actual examples of programs using Snapchat.
18 March 2016:
Drones and 'virtual' rescue volunteers unite to bring speedier aid to survivors
, an initiative pairing photo-snapping drones and factions of "virtual volunteers" that support on-the-ground staff in search and rescue missions in expansive wilderness areas. "From up on high, a throng of drones are dispersed in a location of interest, canvassing the area as they photograph in frenzy. It is from this mound of geotagged photography that virtual volunteers will scour for any sign of a person. Upon multiple ‘virtual’ team members tagging the same photo, a rescue team is dispatched to the location tagged in that particular file. Through this expanded outreach, aeroSee ensures that survivors can be reached and assisted more quickly, which greatly improves the rate of survival as time is of the essence in these type of scenarios."
10 March 2016: "
Humanitarian mapping – marking the aid on the world map
" It’s Saturday 10 a.m. and 20 motivated volunteers are gathered together at the Finnish Red Cross headquarters. The task is to map the risk zones of the meningitis epidemic outbreak in Togo, West Africa. They are among the 25,000 people around the world regularly contributing to OpenStreetMap, a project creating a free editable map of the world. Volunteers use the satellite pictures to trace buildings, residential and roads and put them on
the virtual map
. Totally 2,5 million OpenStreetMap members are registered around the world. This is from the
//Henry goes live// blog
, which "brings alive similar topics to those that Henry Dunant did back in his time. Humanity, voluntary aid work, social issues, first aid and many other themes are discussed."
3 March 2016.
The Washington Post
Online activists support uprisings around the world. Here’s what we know about them
. " The authors got 21 "serial activists" to be interviewed about why the devote so much time online to the causes they believe in, and what they do. "Their IT and language skills made it technically feasible for them to assist fellow online activists from different countries. They juggle family life and work, health and illness, in daunting life-patterns that make time for their serious commitment to the cause of peaceful democratic protest... So what exactly are these activists doing?... Most impressive, the activists used translation tools, their own language skills, and peer networks to overcome linguistic and national borders and to widen the exposure of uprisings around the world. They coordinated essential tasks online and offline, provided IT support for protesters on location, and remotely supported the actions of people on the ground. Several of the interviewed activists helped Egyptian protesters circumvent the Internet blockade instituted by the regime of then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in January 2011. "
2 March 2016, online: Well, this is truly virtual volunteering - the tasks
real, but digitally-represented: This year the National Park Service in the USA celebrates its centennial, and as part of its year-long celebrations, in partnership with American Express and Games for Change, an organization that creates games with a social impact,
the NPS has released a game in iTunes called Save the Park
to help inspire more kids and young people to visit and help the national parks. "
lets users play as four characters on a quest to save the parks by accomplishing volunteer tasks. The game takes place in three different national parks and encourages park conservation and gives examples of real volunteer opportunities in the parks system. As users carry out their role as a virtual volunteer, the app offers facts about some of the parks in the system to educate them about the importance of these public spaces."
is free, but with each download in 2016 American Express will donate $1.00 to the National Park Foundation up to $50,000. American Express has also committed $5 million towards helping the Department of the Interior reach its goal of increasing community volunteers in national parks and on public lands to one million annually by 2017.
29 February Portland, Oregon: 84% of
editors - online volunteers - are male, and much of its info is male-centric. This week,
women and men are staging edit-a-thons
(which this article mistakenly calls "hackathons") to help improve entries of female artists, including a meetup here in Oregon at the University of Oregon. Edit-a-thons and hackathons are a great example of ONSITE online volunteering.
19 February: an opinion piece called
Virtual Volunteering. Beneficial? Yes, but for whom?
questions the large number of people from developing countries using the United Nations'
Online Volunteering service
, asking if it's exploitative of people desperate for a job and willing to work for free. Jayne Cravens has responded, but so far, her comment has remained in the moderator's queue and cannot be seen except by her.
18 February 2016.
This Party's Electric: Culture, Cocktails and Remote Co-workers
. All 70 of the employees at FlexJobs, a telecommuting job service, work virtually, and many employees have never met in the same room, in-person. To build team culture, the FlexJobs leadership team uses collaboration technology to come up with fun ways to help employees develop relationships outside of work, including a twice-monthly virtual yoga class over Skype run by an employee with a yoga certification, and a trivia-themed happy hour using Sococo, an online virtual workplace, where employee teams gather in virtual rooms to brainstorm answers to questions posted by the CEO. “You would be surprised by how well it all works,” said Carol Cochran, FlexJob’s director of people and culture. Katie Evans, senior communications manager at Upwork, an online talent marketplace formerly known as Elance-oDesk, created a “get to know you” exercise, and had remote employees submit three facts about themselves. She shared the facts anonymously with the team, then employees met using Google Hangouts video to guess which facts went with which person. “I thought it would last for 30 minutes, but it lasted two hours,” she said. “Everyone had a lot of fun.” The party made her realize that you don’t need to be live and in person to build company morale, and you don’t need to use complicated technology to make virtual celebrations fun. “The value is in the face time and storytelling, not the platform,” she said. Now she hosts quarterly all-company parties and smaller teams have begun using collaboration tools for team coffees and weekly “rocks and roses” meetings where everyone shares their best and worst moment of the week.
This article is about paid remote workers
, and the workers already know each other, through work - but the lessons are quite transferable to online volunteers.
16 February, online: There is an
online group on Flickr for photos of online volunteers
or that represent virtual volunteering, and a
Pinterest pin board for virtual volunteering-related images
. Both groups are managed by Jayne Cravens. Feel free to let her know of new photos for either of these online groups!
5 February 2016, España:
Menos es más: Únete al microvoluntariado virtual
. artículo de
. "Microvoluntariado es un voluntariado por tareas, una colaboración puntual en la que tienes una misión muy concreta gracias a la cual ayudas a una organización y con ello contribuyes a la causa por la que esta trabaja. Las ofertas van desde un par de horas hasta una semana, y tú decides a qué te apuntas en función de tus conocimientos y sobre todo, de tu tiempo disponible. El microvoluntariado es una pequeña acción de voluntariado sin compromiso de repetir y con un mínimo de formalidad, en la que el voluntario se involucra en una tarea rápida de realizar. Para algunas de esas ofertas de microvoluntariado necesitas tener una formación específica, pero para otras no."
19 January 2016:
How museums are involving volunteers in innovative ways, including virtual volunteering
: via the
19 January 2016:
Crowd Dynamics: Exploring Conflicts and Contradictions in Crowdsourcing
, a one-day workshop at CHI 2016, May 8, 2016, San Jose, California, USA. "In this workshop we explore the reasons, processes, power relations, and dynamics of conflicts within crowdsourcing. We invite participants to contribute with insights from different types of crowd-work, and thereby deepen our understanding about the relations in contexts such as crowdsourcing, crowd-funding, peer-production and citizen science. Furthermore, we examine strategies for accommodating differences in crowdsourcing environments." Subthemes and topics could include: Citizen empowerment versus control in open government, Conflict management and conflict resolution in crowdsourcing, Dynamics of inclusion/exclusion in crowd work, reflecting societal issues of race, gender, identity, and geography, Social capital and community engagement in crowd work conflicts, and Research ethics in citizens’ science (or other types of crowd work). While the description may not say so, crowdsourcing, crowd work, etc., when it is unpaid, is virtual volunteering.
15 January 2016:
Wikipedia’s Wealth of Knowledge Is in More than Its Pages
. This article from the
an article from Wired
, and encourages nonprofits to learn more about the triumphs, and challenges, that
it has faced in working with its online constituency. "Descriptions of its ongoing evolution should be hugely valuable to other nonprofits because however phenomenal it may be, it is an effort that knows it is flawed—and is relatively open about its attempts to evolve." Wikipedia is the largest virtual volunteering mobilization in human history; its online volunteers are called
13 January 2016:
Cindy Kliewer volunteers online from home for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
, answering inquiries about volunteering that come in online to the organization."Some prospective volunteers are unsure of where they can serve or what they can do. Kliewer works with sites to understand their volunteer needs and how best to respond. Kliewer is the first Society contact for the prospect and acts as a connector for them to the local Society office. If the would-be volunteer lives too far away from a Society office, Kliewer will refer them to other organizations in their area that help service members and veterans.
7 January 2016: "
Volunteer practices online get a UK charity in trouble with government - could it happen to your nonprofit?
" A thread on TechSoup summarizes a newspaper story about the U.K.'s Information Commission seeking a reprimand against the U.K's Alzheimer’s Society because the charity's volunteers used personal email addresses to receive and share information about the charity's clients, stored unencrypted data on their home computers and failed to keep paper records locked away. The commission found that the volunteers had not been trained in data protection practices. It's a cautionary tale for any nonprofit that communicates with volunteers - and staff - via email and personal devices (their own smartphones included).
4 January 2016: "
Girl Scout Cookie Sales Go Digital, with Help from Visa and Dell
New York Times
article. Girl Scouts of the USA have always allowed girls to sell cookies online, but until now, only directly to a girl's own family, immediate neighbors, etc. The fear of allowing girls to sell online, openly, to anyone, came both from fear of Internet predators and from girls losing cookie sales to neighbors because someone from across the country got to them first. Cookie sales aren't just to raise money for Girl Scouts - they are also to teach girls business skills. This relates to virtual volunteering because some of the policies and practices can be helpful to organizations seeking to encourage young people to engage in online activities, and Girl Scout traditional volunteers will be engaged, to a degree, online in support of cookie sales as well.
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