Virtual Volunteering

Posted by Eric Shiels on October 3, 2018

Volunteering allows you to use your expertise to help others, make a difference, and contribute to a cause you care about, but it can also provide career benefits. Web development can be a tough field to break into, and volunteering can give you valuable work experience - improving your skills with meaningful practice, and preparing you for a remote job. It could even be a stepping-stone to a career at a non-profit.

The development skills that we learn through this program can help improve an organization’s online presence, help them keep their supporters updated on their activities via HTML email, or help them accept and increase online giving. Students in the boot camp also tend to be generally technologically savvy, and many have the ability to run an organization’s social media or do basic graphic design.

Many people are unaware of where to find volunteer opportunities, virtual or otherwise. (I wasn’t aware of many of these sites before doing the research for this article.) Below, I have provided a list of websites and describe the opportunities. But first, here are some tips to make sure that you know what to look for in a listing.

  • Research the organization that you are looking to volunteer with. Make sure that they have charitable status in their country. Look at employee reviews on sites such as Indeed or Glassdoor, and look at charity reviews on sites such as Charity Navigator, GuideStar, GiveWell, or Charity Intelligence(Canada).
  • Understand the listing. Make sure you understand the level of experience expected, the amount of time you are expected to spend volunteering, how much of the work can be done remotely, and how much training, (if any) is necessary.

United Nations Volunteers –

Here you can find virtual opportunities to assist different organizations within and related to the UN. There are plenty of opportunities in translation, design, writing, research, and social media management, as well as some opportunities in web development and other tech-related areas. Pay attention to region requirements as many opportunities are region-specific.

Catchafire –

The headline of the Catchafire website says “Use your professional skills to make a difference” and that is a great representation of the opportunities on this site. These are mostly virtual opportunities, with many consisting of simply a phone call to discuss things and get recommendations from a professional. There are tons of opportunities in the digital space on this site, from marketing to logo design, web design, auditing, and development.

VolunteerMatch –

Here you can find virtual and on-site opportunities to volunteer with thousands of different organizations. There are tons of opportunities in every field, including around 200 web development listings.

Idealist –

This site has virtual and on-site opportunities, and you can filter them by educational requirements which is a plus compared to some of the other sites. There are tons of opportunities in every field, including web development, but most are for higher-level positions compared to the other sites.

Regional and/or National Organizations

Most countries, states, provinces, regions, and municipalities have their own volunteer opportunity databases. For example, here in Ontario, Canada, there is Volunteer Canada and Spark Ontario. In the United States, there are organizations such as AmeriCorps, as well as state, region or city specific sites such as Volunteer Central Ohio or NYC Service.

There are tons of other sites such as Create The Good, Do-it for others, All for Good. You can also find listings on local sites such as Craigslist or Kijiji, or on job sites. If you don’t find something you’re interested in on one of these sites, keep searching. You’re sure to find something that interests you.