This is an archived version of the Virtual Volunteering Project web site from January 2001.
The materials on the web site were written or compiled by Jayne Cravens.
The Virtual Volunteering Project has been discontinued.
The Virtual Volunteering Project web site IS NO LONGER UPDATED.
Email addresses associated with the Virtual Volunteering Project are no longer valid.
For any URL that no longer works, type the URL into archive.org
.
For new materials regarding online volunteering, see
Jayne Cravens' web site (the section on volunteerism-related resources).
 
 
 
  Virtual Volunteering Project Logo

 
 
 
FAQs

Resources for AGENCIES

Resources for VOLUNTEERS

About the Virtual Volunteering Project

Subscribe to VIRTUAL VERVE

What's new

Site Index

Home Page

 
"how do i know if my
organization is ready for
virtual volunteering?"

This information was last updated on July 31, 2000

Before your organization decides to involve volunteers virtually, do a self-evaluation of both yourself and your organization to determine if you have the resources and experience necessary.

Based on our own experiences and feedback from other organizations, we strongly suggest your organization meet the following criteria before it attempts to engage in virtual volunteering:

  • Your organization should already successfully involve volunteers in traditional, face-to-face settings, either assisting staff and / or working directly with clients. You should have an already established system for volunteer recruitment, screening, matching to assignments, management, feedback and evaluation (measures of success for both volunteer assignments and for your volunteer program in general). Most online volunteering programs that are not successful attribute their problems to lack of volunteer management experience.

  • The entire staff and board should understand how your organization already involves volunteers offline, and be committed to the success of your existing volunteer program. They should know how to route calls from volunteers and inquiries from potential volunteers. If staff is not already bought into the concept of involving volunteers face-to-face, getting them to support online volunteering will be near impossible.

  • All of your organization's staff should have training and/or experience in the basic hows and whys of volunteer recruitment, screening and management (easily-acquired knowledge, via your local nonprofit support center or United Way). You should also have an already-established system for staff members to define and communicate to you volunteer assignments in their own areas/departments (i.e., the development director needs volunteers for a special event, to write grants, etc.). If staff isn't already involving face-to-face volunteers, it will be quite difficult to get them to buy-in to involving online volunteers.

  • There should be one person who is ultimately responsible for volunteer management at your organization. This person should understand the basic legal requirements associated with volunteer management (or at least know where to get such questions answered), and should already oversee your organization's volunteer management process, including evaluation. AND, this person should have regular access to an Internet e-mail account during daytime hours.

  • The same person who is in charge of managing your current volunteer program should also manage the virtual volunteering component. Don't think of virtual volunteering as a different program; instead, think of it as an extension of your existing, offline volunteer program. Your web master should NOT be the manager of online volunteering activities, any more than your brochure designer is in charge of onsite volunteers!

  • Your organization should already ask for and compile e-mail addresses of volunteers as supporters, just as you ask for the postal mailing addresses and phone numbers for these people (on application forms, via phone, on sign up sheets, on pledge cards, etc.). Capture this information at the same time you capture other volunteer information. For instance, add a space on your volunteer application for people to write in their e-mail address.

    This is the first step in getting the staff used to the idea of using the Internet in the course of their regular volunteer-related activities before you institute a formal virtual volunteering program.

  • The volunteer manager and anyone staff who might work with online volunteers are committed to reading and responding to e-mails regarding volunteering with your organization within 48 hours of receipt. Online volunteers expect a quick response. When they don't get one, it reflects poorly on you and your organization.

  • Everyone who will work with online volunteers, and the volunteer manager, must be comfortable using e-mail. If your staff, particularly your volunteer manager, finds reading and responding to e-mail "bothersome", and even avoids using it, then managing an online mentoring is not going to be right for your organization at this time.

  • You can regularly access the Virtual Volunteering Web site for advice and information on involving volunteers virtually. We think it's important that all online volunteering programs have access to the basic and the latest information about virtual volunteering, for ongoing trouble-shooting and continuous program improvement.

A well-organized agency and volunteering program is a key element to virtual volunteering success. Good organization does not come from funding; it comes from good application of existing resources and commitment to a good program system. Having the above criteria completed before engaging in virtual volunteering will prevent a significant increase in administrative burdens as a result of your program, and ensure quality and success for the program.

If you feel you meet all of the above criteria, you are ready to start looking into setting up and managing a virtual volunteering program.

Our information on virtual volunteering is geared to organizations who already understand the basics of volunteer management, and how to work with volunteers effectively in traditional, face-to-face settings. We don't teach the fundamentals of volunteer management. Our list of Other Online Resources for Volunteer Managers has links to sites that provide information on the basics of volunteer management.

As part of the Virtual Volunteering Project, we are working directly with selected organizations to help them develop effective and ongoing virtual volunteering programs, and to help us detail first hand the realities of setting up and maintaining such a program, such as volunteer screening, monitoring, and recognition, as well as how look for assignments within an organization that could be handled by a volunteer via online technologies.

If you feel your organization is ready to create or expand an online component of its volunteer program, and you would like to work with us, please review our collaboration guidelines.


 
Information for those who wish to
quote from, copy and/or distribute the information on this Web site

 
If you find this or any other Virtual Volunteering Project information helpful, or would like to add information based on your own experience, please contact us.

If you do use Virtual Volunteering Project materials in your own workshop or trainings, or republish materials in your own publications, please let us know, so that we can track how this information is disseminated.  

Copyright © 1999 - 2000 The University of Texas at Austin
All Rights Reserved.


 
This is an archived version of the Virtual Volunteering Project web site from January 2001.
The materials on the web site were written or compiled by Jayne Cravens.
The Virtual Volunteering Project has been discontinued.
The Virtual Volunteering Project web site IS NO LONGER UPDATED.
Email addresses associated with the Virtual Volunteering Project are no longer valid.
For any URL that no longer works, type the URL into archive.org
.
For new materials regarding online volunteering, see
Jayne Cravens' web site (the section on volunteerism-related resources).
 

If you liked the content of this web page, subscribe to Jayne's blog so you can know when new information on this subject is available. Don't have an RSS reader to subscribe to blogs? Not sure what RSS is? Try this RSS tutorial.

about Jayne Cravens | contact Jayne Cravens