Virtual volunteering has been a popular topic lately. It’s not a new concept, but it wasn’t very common pre-COVID. So, what exactly is it? In reality, it encompasses two different concepts; both of which are considered remote. At Volunteer Houston, we define these concepts in this way:
VIRTUAL | requires some type of internet connectivity with a device such as a smartphone or laptop
REMOTE | performed off-site, not at the organization’s facilities or properties and does not require the use of any internet-ready device
Since March of this year when COVID-19 led to quick shut-down of the City, many nonprofits have struggled to pivot from mostly in-person to almost exclusively virtual volunteer opportunities without much lead time or funds to develop a seamless transition plan. And let’s face it – virtual volunteer opportunities require at least one party (the nonprofit or the volunteer) to have the right technology and skill to get the job done. Many smaller nonprofits operate on small budgets and could not/cannot afford to purchase enough devices or provide the right training to their volunteer force.
So, seven months later here we are – a community that’s not quite ready to begin meeting in person again yet still depends on volunteers. If you’re one of the hundreds of local volunteers who said you still want to volunteer but you’re not yet comfortable with the state of the pandemic to volunteer in-person, here are three reasons why you should consider volunteering virtually.
1. It’s not all digital.
Look for remote volunteer opportunities that don’t require technology of any kind. Browse a list of local virtual and remote opportunities in the Volunteer Houston portal.
2. Nonprofits are still operating.
There are more than 1,800 nonprofits serving the Greater Houston area that still have hundreds of thousands of clients to serve in so many different areas – food insecurity, homeless outreach, literacy, senior care, pets and animals, environmental, advocacy to name a few. And they still need the help of volunteers. Here are a few:
3. Ask and you shall receive.
If you don’t consider yourself tech-savvy or have an internet-ready device – ask! Nonprofit professionals are pretty resourceful. If they know a volunteer is committed to supporting their mission, they are likely to hunt down the resources their volunteers need to help them deliver their mission.