Not all volunteer work has to happen outside your home
Volunteering is a way to give back to your community, perform good deeds in a world that needs it desperately, and also gain a sense of fulfillment that not many activities can provide. It’s a win-win, really. But sometimes it is difficult to overcome certain obstacles to get out there: mobility issues, health issues, or even transportation can present a problem. The good news is that there are so many ways you can volunteer your time from home.
First Things First: Get Matched
Charitable organizations are aware that some people would prefer to help from home, so they’ve bent over backward to make that easier for potential helpers. A ton of websites exist to help match volunteers with causes that need their help. Here are a few to consider if you’re not sure where you want to volunteer:
United Nations Volunteers
If you’re looking to make an impact on more international matters, this is a good place to start. Tasks range from writing thank-you notes to analytical essays (clearly, experience matters for some of these), or doing desk research, or even translation work. The perks include the fact that this is a well-recognized organization, so you know that your work is going to get used and appreciated the way that you want. Plus, you can casually drop into conversations that you “volunteer for the UN” in your spare time. Doesn’t that sound impressive?
This is a wonderful resource to get linked to a number of different volunteer opportunities. Catchafire will describe the task they need help with, along with an estimated duration for which it is needed, so you will know ahead of time the exact commitment. Catchafire projects typically are a little less expertise-based than the UN site, so it feels a bit more accessible to those of us who weren’t economic policy brainiacs in our 9-to-5s. A quick glance shows a range of opportunities from helping with web design and letter creation to photo-editing, organizing video calls, and other online-based tasks.
The name for this organization says it all. Simply go to their webpage and peruse the various opportunities at your leisure. Some of their tasks include online mentorships, letter writing, helping smaller organizations design a business logo, scanning documents to enter into online databases, and other tasks that anyone can do from home. They’ve even created a specific hub for COVID-19-related volunteering opportunities, so if the pandemic has left you feeling helpless and frustrated, here’s a chance to make a difference in heavily impacted communities.
Points of Light
We specifically love this organization because the volunteer opportunities include DIY projects that you can do at home. Their volunteer opportunities are categorized by cause, and then broken down into the individual organizations they support, so you can choose to help a cause that means a lot to you. They also link to many of the big online volunteer-based organizations, like Zooniverse (an online encyclopedia), Wikipedia, and the Smithsonian databases that require volunteer input on identifying images and other resources. One of the projects they host (which we love, and requires very little technological know-how) is Be My Eyes, which asks volunteers to download a free mobile app in order to offer support to blind and low-vision individuals over a video call.
Create the Good
Create the Good is the online volunteer matching database organized by the AARP. Opportunities include mentorship, crafting for terminally ill patients, supporting crisis call centers, teaching virtual classes on a subject of your choice, and many other wonderful ways to help. The best part of this database is that the AARP understands that sometimes technology is challenging to people of a certain generation, so the volunteer opportunities don’t always require as much IT know-how.
If you get a chance to peruse a few of these databases, you’ll be sure to find a number of opportunities that call out to you. It’s hard to resist the siren call of great organizations that need help in a way that you can provide, and they make it exceedingly easy to begin. We recommend that you first focus on a cause that is meaningful to you, and then proceed from there. The best part is that you know—no matter how small your contribution seems—you’ll be making a difference.