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If you want to volunteer but time, physical or financial constraints are putting you off, why not try online volunteering. If you have computer access you can contribute knowledge and skills to organisations dedicated to improving lives in developing countries.
From legal advice to editing websites and online tutoring there is tremendous scope in the field of online volunteering. Along the way you get the opportunity to learn about other cultures and issues faced in the developing world.
Rather than taking away paid positions, online volunteering adds skills and provides a way for people to connect, communicate and contribute to improving the world.
If you are interested in online volunteering a good place to find information is the United Nations Online Volunteering service. Launched in 2000 it connects development organisations with volunteers from around the world. Each year the Online Volunteering (OV) service awards ten teams of online volunteers, managers and organisations for their commitment, the organisation’s approach towards volunteer involvement, the online collaboration and its impact on the organisations’ development activities. A look at the winners in 2007 gives you an idea of the diversity of organisations and ways you can contribute as an online volunteer.
African Conservation Foundation Team
Two online volunteers contributed technical expertise to help conserve the rainforest and protect critically endangered great apes in South West Cameroon.
Bureau for Reconstruction and Development Team
Working with the Director of the Bureau for Reconstruction and Development, an online volunteer shared skills in strategic planning, project/team management and proposal development to help enhance the NGO’s organisational capacities and quality of its services in the areas of human rights and capacity building in support of civil society organisations, local NGOs and the Government of Afghanistan.
Community Empowerment Collective Team
154 volunteers provided training material for community workers in more than 30 languages to help the Community Empowerment Collective Society empower low-income communities.
Conscious Generation Team
Three online volunteers drew on civil engineering and project management expertise to help the Burundian organisation Conscious Generation write a proposal for a youth centre.
Lawyers without Borders Team
A volunteer designed website graphics, logos and other branding images to promote Lawyers without Borders, a group of volunteer lawyers worldwide who support non-profit organisations, rule of law initiatives, legal capacity building projects and human rights work worldwide.
Ten online volunteers helped translate information to help MAPU Association of Spain and an Argentinean civil movement to raise international awareness on the consequences of mining projects in Argentina.
30 online volunteers from around the world run the RESPECT University project, to provide refugees and internally displaced persons with free post-secondary courses by correspondence.
Shine a Light Team
Seven online volunteers translated material created by 300 grass-roots organisations serving marginalized children in Latin America.
UNDP International Poverty Centre Team
23 online volunteers built the UNDP International Poverty Centre’s directory of 2,800 research centres worldwide dealing with poverty and social development.
Youth for Technology Foundation Team
Six online volunteers created a webpage, mobilized supporters and provided strategic advice to the Youth for Technology Foundation to help establish the Sironko Digital Village, a community technology and learning center in Uganda.
For further information and opportunities for online volunteering visit the following websites.
UN Online volunteering services
Virtual volunteering resources
Interconnection links web designers with non-profits around the world.
VolunteerMatch allows you to search for virtual volunteering opportunities worldwide.