By: Nick Callos
For world travelers passionate about responsible, sustainable tourism, volunteering abroad has long offered a way to explore another culture, meet friends, learn new skills, and give back to local communities.
Sadly, the Coronavirus pandemic has made international volunteering risky and even impossible in some countries. Additionally, major volunteer program providers, such as International Volunteer HQ, have had to cut staff, close programs, and even pivot to new types of programs, like remote internships.
Now’s just a hard time for volunteer travel. While that may be disheartening, we do have a great alternative…
Enter online volunteering—your new way to serve communities and people in need (while staying at home).
In this article, we’ll cover the best 10 digital volunteer opportunities. Whether you want to teach English or assist with website development, there is online volunteer work available for you. All you need is WiFi and some remote work apps.
Let’s discuss where you can volunteer online:
Want to put your skills into action around the world? Then look for online volunteer work with the United Nations. Focused on peace, cooperation, and development, the UN has a need for volunteers with a variety of skills, including art and design, teaching and training, and project management.
For example, through the UN’s online volunteering program, you could:
- Design websites for local initiatives in Ghana
- Translate materials from English to French for the UN Cameroon office
- Develop a fundraising strategy for community hospitals in Uganda
When you volunteer online with the UN, your work will go towards making the world a better place. Your service will also benefit you by improving your skills and enhancing your resume.
Digital volunteers at the Smithsonian support the organization’s museums, zoos, and other sites. One of the main goals of the Digital Volunteer program is to make the Smithsonian’s collections more accessible to the public. As a digital volunteer, you can do just that by:
- Transcribing historical documents
- Contributing content to Wikipedia that’s related to the Smithsonian
- Serving in a variety of research roles (some of which may require expertise)
The Digital Volunteers program is great for those passionate about research and the diffusion of knowledge. You can focus on your field or learn something new.
Know more than one language? Put your language skills into action as an online volunteer with Translators Without Borders, a nonprofit that provides translations for humanitarian and development agencies, as well as other nonprofits. One amazing project they did lately was build a COVID-19 glossary in 33 languages.
To date, online volunteers with Translators Without Borders have translated nearly 90 million words. They truly do great work in breaking down language barriers. And you can be a part of that!
4. Crisis Hotline Online Volunteering
Want to help those in trouble before it’s too late? Know you can find a variety of online volunteer opportunities with crisis hotline centers. You can help people having thoughts of suicide and mental health crises. You can provide support to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. And you can help those dealing with substance abuse issues find the help they need.
To look over multiple opportunities at once, do a Google search to see what’s available in your area. You can also search on job boards like Indeed.
5. Virtual Tutoring
If you’re in search of online volunteer opportunities in education, understand you have an abundance of options. For volunteer teaching online, check out some of the following organizations:
- TutorMate: Support literacy in first-grade classrooms.
- Upchieve: Help low-income students in the US with math, science, college counseling, and more.
- Infinite Family: Mentor and teach at-risk, impoverished children in South Africa.
- Vello: a literacy initiative started by United Way, Vello aims to connect elementary students with virtual tutors. The goal of Vello is to give struggling readers one-on-one guidance and support so that they don’t fall behind.
Help generate donations and spread awareness about Red Cross work. Tasks you can do as a digital volunteer with the Red Cross include:
- Sharing Red Cross content on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest
- Commenting and interacting on the Red Cross blog
- Running your own fundraiser for a Red Cross cause you’re passionate about
The Red Cross has been doing tremendous work during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re comfortable volunteering on the ground, look for volunteer opportunities in your local community.
As an online volunteer with Bpeace, you’ll donate your skills and knowledge as a business mentor. You’ll specifically help entrepreneurs in countries emerging from war, natural disasters, and other crises.
The mission of Bpeace, an international nonprofit organization, is to stimulate business development in crisis-affected countries and empower women economically. Ultimately, that’s what will lead to stability and an improved standard of living. Currently, Bpeace has more than 400 virtual volunteers working with entrepreneurs across 14 countries. And they’re ready for more volunteers!
Are you on the Mozilla web browser right now? Well, did you know that Mozilla is a nonprofit organization that depends on the contributions of online volunteers? As a digital volunteer with Mozilla, you can:
- Translate content
- Contribute to the Mozilla codebase
- Answer user questions on support forums
- Join the community, collaborate, and share your skills
Mozilla has a mission of ensuring the internet is a global public resource, one where individuals feel empowered, independent, and safe. Be a part of that as a virtual volunteer!
Change computer science education by providing no-cost coding courses, career support, and mentorship to those who need it most. CodePath supports software engineers from underrepresented backgrounds and is truly doing their part to make the field more inclusive.
As a digital volunteer with CodePath, you can help in a variety of ways. Lead workshops, evaluate job opportunities, help students prep for interviews, and more.
Wish you could do more to stop human rights abuses? You can as an online volunteer with Amnesty Decoders. Work to expose rights violations around the globe by using your computer to analyze and decode photos, information, and documents.
Online volunteer opportunities with Amnesty Decoders offer you flexibility, as they need assistance with gathering data online. Even if you can only give an hour per week, that will help in bringing awareness to human rights abuses.
Making the most of your online volunteering experience
While traveling around the world to volunteer is a bit trickier now, you can do good as a digital volunteer. Online volunteer opportunities are available locally, nationally, and internationally, and you can make a big impact.
From translating vital public health information to mentoring at-risk students to exposing human rights violations, the world needs online volunteers now more than ever. Are you ready to serve?
About the Author
Nick Callos has always had a passion for reading, writing, and discovering the new and unknown. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Nick holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Boston College. He currently splits his time between his hometown, Chengdu, China, and the open road. A full-time travel writer, Nick hopes his work can inspire others to explore the world more deeply and enjoy the digital nomad lifestyle.