Our 10+ Year Love Affair with Virtual Volunteering (and the New Book That Makes Us Smile)

Check out The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook to learn about engaging online volunteers for your nonprofit organization.Let me tell you a story:

In 1995, a new nonprofit organization called Impact Online began promoting the idea of virtual volunteering, a phrase that was probably first used by one of the nonprofit’s co-founders, Steve Glikbarg. There were many volunteers contacting this new volunteer-matching service to say they wanted to volunteer partly or entirely online, but Impact Online could find only a few nonprofits willing to create activities for such volunteers. Impact Online hoped that by promoting virtual volunteering, more organizations would adopt the practice.

When Impact Online became VolunteerMatch, we continued to promote virtual volunteering by allowing organizations to mark assignments on its volunteer matching database as “virtual.” Then, in 1999, VolunteerMatch worked with the Virtual Volunteering Project at the University of Texas at Austin to promote the first Virtual Volunteering Guidebook by Susan Ellis and Jayne Cravens.

Back in the day, VolunteerMatch was Impact Online - and it was already promoting virtual volunteering.

Since then, VolunteerMatch has continued to promote virtual volunteering, and our network of volunteering opportunities now allows individuals to search for online volunteering opportunities by location cause, keyword, and more.

A Beautiful Culmination

When we heard that Susan and Jayne had spent several years creating The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook, we were excited to be a part of its launch. The book is a great resource for organizations who are just figuring out how to engage online volunteers in their work, AND for those nonprofits who are looking for ways to grow their virtual volunteering programs.

An organization that uses the Internet to support and involve volunteers is sending a message to its supporters that it is modern and efficient, that it wants to provide convenience to its volunteers, and that it understands the realities of the 21st-century workplace. ~ from The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook

The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook covers topics such as how to best design virtual volunteering opportunities, interviewing and screening online volunteers, managing risk, ensuring diversity, and much more. We were excited to see VolunteerMatch mentioned several times throughout the book, as we’ve worked hard to build and expand our resources supporting virtual volunteering.

It’s tough to know for sure, but we THINK that this book may actually be the last one you’ll ever need about virtual volunteering. Either way, it’s a great one to have now.

So check out The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook – you may just find yourself loving virtual volunteering as much as we always have.

2 thoughts on “Our 10+ Year Love Affair with Virtual Volunteering (and the New Book That Makes Us Smile)

  1. Hi, great article and thanks for all the virtual volunteering support – Skills for Girls provides education to women & girls around the world using online volunteering methods and we have 2 very successful projects up and running – some of our volunteers have been recruited through VolunteerMatch! We also find a lot of organisations are still unwilling to see and realise the benefits of virtual volunteering but we will continue in our quest as the results have proven to be very worthwhile 🙂 thanks for your support. Elaine x

    • Thanks for this. Steve Glikbarg deserves so much credit for being a pioneer in identifying and promoting this practice. I’m so glad to see him acknowledged.

      Elaine, you’re right – a lot of organizations are still resistant. But they are becoming – and may already be – in the minority. So often, I talk to organizations that are resistant, but after a few minutes, they realize they ARE already involving online volunteers – they’ve allowed a board member to design a brochure from work on his fancy schmancy machine there, or they’ve gotten someone to translate something from English into another language by someone working from home or elsewhere offsite. One of the things we’re trying to do with this book is to point out that this is an established, proven way of involving volunteers and that it’s a practice more than 30 years old.

      If I do say so myself, there is a lot of great information in the book for both organizations new to the idea of virtual volunteering and organizations like yourself that have lots of experience but may need some assistance with some challenges (we even have info on how to convince naysayers!).

      You might want to check out this LinkedIn group for the discussion of all things virtual volunteering – your story of how you work with volunteers online would be welcomed there: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Virtual-Volunteering-6622229?gid=6622229&mostPopular=&trk=tyah&trkInfo=tas%3Avirtual%20volunteer%2Cidx%3A2-1-3