Nine great ways to volunteer online

21 October 2015

From helping find a cure for cancer to combating bullying, you can make a big difference to charities and organisations just using your computer.



1. Mentor children overseas

Become part of the School in the Cloud’s international network of grannies (and granddads) who read stories, sing songs and chat with deprived children in India, Colombia, Mexico and Greenland via Skype.

2. Map a disaster zone

Help make maps to inform the relief efforts of organisations such as the Red Cross. Volunteers use satellite images and a drawing tool to mark up buildings, rivers and roads in remote areas that may not have been mapped before. Recent initiatives include the Nepalese earthquake and the ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Six ways to help charities without donating money

3. Break down stereotypes

Project Implicit is a non-profit network of researchers investigating the subconscious way our minds work. Volunteers take psychological tests online to help scientists better understand society’s hidden prejudices and how we might tackle them.

Do you have skills or knowledge you could share? Find out more about becoming a mentor.

4. Fight climate change

Improve scientists’ understanding of climate change by examining infrared images of tropical cyclones dating back to 1978. A tutorial tells you what to look for. Experts use your classifications to learn how cyclones have changed through time.

5. Create new medicines

Players of the online game Foldit twist virtual chains of chemicals into energy efficient shapes. The most promising solutions are synthesised in the lab and could lead to the creation of new medicines.

6. Improve disabled access

Make your neighbourhood more accessible by ranking shops and restaurants for their disabled-friendly credentials. Enter your postcode on the AXS Map website to bring up a map and list of businesses. You rate these using a star system. A video explains what to check for.

Make a difference to your local area: start a community group

7. Use your phone to beat Parkinson's

100 for Parkinson's tracks the lives of people with and without Parkinson's via an app you can download on to your phone.

This global study needs volunteers without Parkinson's to create a dataset to compare the results of those with the disease. 

Find out more on the 100 for Parkinson's website

8. Micro volunteer

The micro-volunteering website Help From Home lists over 800 easy ways for people to volunteer without leaving the house, and has been used by more 10,000 people.

9. Help cure cancer

Cancer Research UK needs volunteers to play its online games, such as The Impossible Line and Reverse the Odds. 

Participants solve puzzles that help show scientists how cancer cells work, allowing them to improve diagnosis and treatments.

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