This is an archived version of the Virtual Volunteering Project web site from January 2001.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The Virtual Volunteering Project web site IS NO LONGER UPDATED.
Email addresses associated with the Virtual Volunteering Project are no longer valid.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).
 
 
 
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benefits of using the internet
to find and involve volunteers

Online technologies provide an excellent way to augment an organization's volunteer recruitment methods, such as registering with a local volunteer center or sending announcements to civic groups. The Internet can also provide new ways to involve volunteers, and to involve volunteers who may not be able to participate in your traditional opportunities. However, online methods will not replace traditional volunteer recruitment methods, nor traditional ways of involving volunteers.

There are many great reasons to recruit and involve
volunteers via online technologies:

  • Potential volunteers who are not reached by
    traditional offline means may be reached online
    .
    There are people who don't read the newspaper's weekly column on volunteer opportunities, or who don't read bulletins from the local volunteer center, but who would, indeed, love to volunteer, and are easily reached via the World Wide Web and Internet discussion groups.

  • Potential volunteers who wouldn't call for
    information or sign on to volunteer via phone may do so online.

    Some people prefer to communicate via online means. Dashing off an e-mail or filling out an online sign-up sheet is quicker and, for some people, preferable to calling an organization.

  • E-mail provides a quick and easy way
    to communicate with current volunteers

    Even if volunteers work onsite in face-to-face settings, e-mail gives volunteer managers an easy way to solicit feedback, provide program updates, and send meeting or reminders.

  • Volunteers can network with each other via the Internet
    Volunteer managers can use online discussion groups (either via e-mail or via a live chat to allow volunteers who provide onsite, face-to-face service to interact with each other online -- asking each other questions, offering advice, etc. And you have a written record of all interactions, which can be helpful in program reports, grant proposals, etc. (with permission from participants, ofcourse).

  • Virtual Volunteering: people who prefer
    not to volunteer onsite may be willing to do so
    via their home or work computers

    Such volunteers are environmentally friendly -- no car exhausts, less paper waste, etc. They also don't take up precious space in your agency's office (desk, phone, parking space, etc.).

  • Virtual Volunteering programs allow for the
    participation of people who might find
    onsite volunteering difficult or impossible because of
    a disability, home obligation or work schedule.

    This in turn allows agencies to benefit from the additional talent and resources of more volunteers. In addition to its virtual volunteering resources for volunteers and volunteer managers, the Virtual Volunteering Project is developing materials specifically on helping agencies involve people with disabilities in virtual volunteering programs.

  • Involving offsite volunteers via the Internet
    extends the resources of your organization.

    This additional help can augment staff resources and/or allow your organization to reach more clients.

  • New groups of volunteers are emerging!
    Some age groups and professionals are more prone to use the Internet than other means to connect with information and resources of value to them. These new volunteers can turn into long-time supporters, even donors.

  • Online volunteers may have better computer equipment
    and software than the organization they are assisting

    Online volunteers may have sophisticated software or programming skills your organization cannot afford to purchase, and may be willing to use these resources on your behalf.

 
There are other benefits of using the Internet specific to volunteer managers as well that aren't specific to virtual volunteering, but worth mentioning none-the-less:  
Virtual volunteering is already happening. Many organizations are now involving online volunteers successfully.

 
"Cyberspace will radically improve the way
we can maintain connections with off-site volunteers."

In early 1998, soon after the first anniversary of the Virtual Volunteering Project, Susan Ellis, Program Advisor and Documenting Consultant, reflected on what had been learned so far about volunteers, volunteer management and cyberspace, particularly the interrelationship of the principles of virtual volunteering and of physical world volunteering. This essay offers an excellent perspective on how the Internet can be an asset to all volunteer and community-building activities, on and off-line.

If you would like to add information regarding the benefits of finding and using volunteers via the Internet, please e-mail us. Please include your name, email address, Web address (if applicable) and the name of the organization you represent or with whom you are affiliated.

If your organization already involves volunteers "offline" to promote your agency's mission (tutoring clients, staffing a crisis line, support groups, etc.), we would love to hear more about your program!


 
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).
 

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