Virtual Volunteering


Guest Blogger: Sharon Gorman

Making a Difference Foundation Vice President

No one expected the coronavirus pandemic to keep us at home for as long as it has, and with all that extra time indoors, it’s easy to feel a little aimless. But, there are online volunteer opportunities to consider if you’re looking to fill your empty calendar with a sense of purpose.

Volunteering online lets you donate your time to a cause in which you are interested even if you can’t physically go somewhere to volunteer. Below are a few examples of the virtual volunteer opportunities available:

  1. United Nations Volunteers

If you’re looking to take your online volunteering worldwide, this is the place to start. UNV connects you with organizations working for peace and development in need of skills like research, writing, art, and design. There are already over 12,000 volunteers from 187 countries lending their talents to organizations around the globe.

  1. Catchafire

This volunteer search tool is exclusively for online volunteer projects. Each one has a timeline that can range anywhere from an hour to a few weeks. So whether you have an afternoon or several, you can help nonprofits with tasks like writing thank you letters or editing photos.

  1. Smithsonian Digital Volunteers

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, but even they could use a little help sometimes. Help make their collections more accessible by volunteering online to transcribe historical documents or edit Wikipedia articles related to their artifacts and research.

  1. Amnesty Decoders

Operated by Amnesty International, this network of digital volunteers helps conduct research into global human rights violations. Volunteers have used their phones and computers to verify the location of oil spills, find evidence of drone strikes, and flag abusive tweets to women politicians in India.

  1. Translators Without Borders

For those fluent in more than one language, check out this nonprofit that combines language skills with humanitarian aid. Volunteers provide translations (10 million words a year!) to international organizations that focus on crisis relief, health, and education.

  1. Crisis Text Line

Here’s a perfect example of technology being used for good. Become a volunteer to help the Crisis Text Line continue to offer free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. If you’re at least 18 and can commit to volunteering four hours each week, you can apply to be trained for free.

  1. Zooniverse

Zooniverse is a platform for people-powered research that literally wouldn’t be possible (or practical) without the help of online volunteers. Spend as much or as little time as you’d like identifying endangered animals, classifying galaxy systems, or transcribing Shakespearean manuscripts.

  1. Project Gutenberg

Founded in 1971, this may just be the virtual volunteering effort that started it all. The goal is to create the largest digital library, and so far, they’ve amassed 59,000 free eBooks. Volunteer by donating eligible materials, transcribing books into a digital form, or proofreading others’ work.


DoSomething empowers young people to enact social change both online or off. Volunteer online through one of their campaigns to help solve real-world problems. DoSomething members have used the internet to successfully urge Apple to diversify their emojischange the dictionary definition of “Black/black”, and create a youth-powered mental health guide for students nationwide.

The above is not meant to be an exhaustive list. Many more virtual opportunities exist that may appeal to different and more specific interests. If you have found a virtual volunteering experience, please let us at the MADF know! We’d love to hear how your experience impacts the organization you choose and yourself personally.

About the author

Margaret Vallejo

I am passionate about helping others make a difference - in their backyards or around the world. When not working for others you can find me spending time in the mountains, with friends, and family.

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