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Nine great ways to volunteer online

Hannah Jolliffe / 23 March 2020

From lending your eyesight to someone with low vision to mapping out disaster zones, you can make a big difference around the world just by sitting at your computer, phone or tablet.

Heart key on a keyboard to represent helping charity and volunteering online
You can make a big difference just using your computer

There are plenty of great opportunities for virtual volunteering from the comfort of your own home. Whether you're stuck indoors because of long or short-term health reasons and looking for something to do, or your busy lifestyle or social life has been obliterated by the coronavirus pandemic lockdown and you're looking for a way to volunteer during this pandemic without putting yourself at risk, we've found a mix of online volunteering opportunities you can do from home.

1. Mentor children overseas

Become part of School in the Cloud’s international network, Granny Cloud. Contrary to what the name may suggest, you don’t have to be a granny to get involved, but you do need a ‘grandmother approach’ to education. Men and women from all over the globe 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 with Missing Maps. 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. This helps organisations who are first to respond make more informed decisions about disaster relief.

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.

4. 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 can then rate these using a star system and also leave reviews.

5. Micro volunteer

Want to volunteer in bitesize chunks without committing to anything regular? Then ‘micro volunteering’ could be for you. Check out the micro-volunteering website Help From Home, which lists hundreds of quick and easy ways for people to volunteer without leaving the house.

6. Use your professional skills for good

Do you have proven research, training or project management skills? Are you able to help with translation or writing grant proposals? If you’re looking to get your teeth stuck into a bigger project, then the United Nations Volunteering (UNV) programme is packed with worldwide opportunities.

7. Lend someone your vision

Thanks to the brilliant Be My Eyes app, virtual volunteers can help a blind or low-vision person to go about their daily tasks. Through a live video call, you can help to solve problems like checking expiry dates, distinguishing colours, reading instructions or navigating new surroundings.

8. Birdwatching with a purpose

Track your bird sightings via the eBird website and become part of a worldwide network of birdwatchers. Your sightings contribute to hundreds of conservation decisions and peer-reviewed papers and help inform global bird research. And, you can explore birds and hotspots near you with dynamic maps that chart every species in the world.

9. Help expose human rights violations

Amnesty Decoders volunteers around the world use their devices to sift through pictures, information and documents and help expose human rights violations. Projects that volunteers have helped to decode include making oil companies accountable for devastating oil pollution in Nigeria, identifying Darfur’s most remote villages and exposing abuse that silences women on #ToxicTwitter.

How to find more online volunteering opportunities

Alternative volunteering ideas

For those looking for a real change when it comes to volunteering, volunteering abroad through a scheme can be a humble and extremely rewarding experience.

If that sounds like a little too much, don’t be put off; there are plenty of volunteering opportunities available, even if you’re retired.

Alternatively, if you own a pet, you could even look at the many ways both of you can help others, such as volunteering with your dog.

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