Lifestyle

How to be a Digital Volunteer

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Thanksgiving is coming—the time to be grateful and to give back to others.   If you want to volunteer, but don’t want  the hassle of leaving home, or are worried about being exposed to  Covid or other winter viruses,  the perfect way to get involved is digital volunteering. Digital volunteering became  popular during the pandemic and since then opportunities  have  expanded.

Virtual volunteering means you can work for multiple causes or organizations anywhere in the world, not just your own neighborhood, which opens up a wealth of opportunities.  It can also benefit you personally.   Instead of volunteering at the local soup kitchen  you can find opportunities that match your unique skills and passions.  You might even fulfill education goals or find a way to advance your career.

Here are some online sites for the eager digital volunteer.

Volunteer Match

 This huge site matches volunteers to organizations that need them, both locally and in the digital space.  Opportunities are listed in thirty different areas including Advocacy and Human Rights, Animals,  Arts and Culture, Community, Children and Youth, Employment, Environment and many more.

Just put in your zip code and it will find virtual opportunities in your area.     In New York City there are requests for Social Media Producer to help the Macedonian Arts Council maximize their presence on the web, an Events Intern at Rescuing Leftover Cuisine where you help redistribute food to the food insecure, and member of the non-profit Board of Directors for National Queer Theater, Inc.

 Points of Light

This site is easy to navigate and has interesting categories, like Archives and Geneaology.  There you can volunteer for Ancestry.com’s World Archives Program, which uses volunteers to index historical records so they can be searched or Entrepreneurs around the World which offers opportunities like Bpeace. This U.S. nonprofit recruits business professionals to help entrepreneurs in countries emerging from war to create and expand businesses and employment.   There are hundreds of offbeat and unexpected ways to volunteer on this site.

Smithsonian Digital Volunteers.

The Smithsonian has all kinds of fascinating opportunities including Smithsonian Transcription Center which  make their collections more accessible. You get to transcribe historic documents including diaries and working papers of prominent Americans,  Do you love gardens and the thrill of the hunt?  The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens has images of numerous gardens across the United States that need a bit of sleuthing to be positively identified. Some images belonged to slide lectures that were dismantled over time or simply never were labelled.  Regardless of how it happened, they are a mystery!

Links with more great opportunities:

  • Do Something.org features sites that make a difference
  • Make Use Of has the ten best sites to find volunteer opportunities
  • AARP has opportunities ranging from digital fraud fighter, to reading tutor to tax counselor

In case you’re still on the fence here is an article about the pros and cons of digital volunteering.  Why not give it a try and see if it works for you?

Erica Manfred’s articles and humorous essays have appeared in print and online publications including the Washington Post, Atlantic, Salon, Village Voice, and the New York Times.   A self proclaimed Geezer Geek, now in her seventies, she specializes in writing about aging.  She’s the author of four books, including her memoir,  I’m Old So Why Aren’t I Wise; Snarky Senior in the Sunshine State.   You can subscribe to her newsletter at SnarkySenior.com or visit her website at EricaManfred.com

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