Top 5 Roles for Virtual Volunteers

Wondering what virtual volunteers can do for you?
First, you need to put your creative thinking hat on. It’s about breaking the traditional volunteer position into much smaller pieces. For me, Carter McNamara has long been a go-to resource regarding non-profit management. It’s no different for volunteers, where he’s updated his list of info to include some links on virtual volunteering.

That’s where I found this definition of virtual volunteers, from the Virtual Volunteering Project of
Virtual volunteering is a form of volunteering in which the tasks are completed, in whole or in part, via the Internet and a home or work computer. It is also known as online volunteering, cyber service, telementoring, teletutoring, and various other names. Virtual volunteering allows agencies to expand the benefits of their volunteer programs, by allowing for more volunteers to participate, and by utilizing volunteers in new areas.

So what can virtual volunteers do?
In my recent experience in coordinating and managing a cadre of virtual volunteers for Hostelling International, I’ve been able to hone this down to a list of tasks that are ideally matched to virtual volunteers.

• Research
Locate area campus contacts for student interns, study abroad, etc.
Develop list of similar organization and businesses

• Social media
Manage one of your social media sites, or establish one!
Conduct online outreach and promotion for one of your social networks
Metrics–recommend and/or count social media metrics for you at a shared google doc

• Planning
Create a marketing plan
Develop an events marketing timeline

• Program Design (programming or geographic)
Host a Meetup group as a focus group for your interest area
Develop a plan to match families in need with donated household items

• Marketing
A budding social news maven can research and tell you about what social news sites are out there, and which you should use. And, teach your staff about what social news sites even are!
Tag your website and news releases in social bookmarking sites

Excepting skill-specific areas–where, if you’re lucky enough to have captured the attention of a highly qualified professional, you’ll want to invest time in developing a particular objective with that volunteer–these positions are ideally time-limited (even one-time) and can accommodate volunteers with limited expertise but with access to a computer. Be they 20-year technology veterans, digital natives, or someone in-between willing to learn about new technologies, social media roles present an excellent opportunity for a volunteer to help out while learning something new. And that appeals to Boomers and Millennials alike!

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1 Comment

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One response to “Top 5 Roles for Virtual Volunteers

  1. Thanks for this Heidi! I always learn a lot from you.

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