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The rise of virtual volunteering

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In an economy driven by numbers, efficiency and the bottom line, finding the time to volunteer is not always easy. Enter virtual volunteering – share your skills, knowledge or time from the comfort of your desk. By connecting to causes online, individuals and groups can get involved with social change in a real and impactful way.
“Technology has opened so many doors for the social sector,” says Andy Hadfield, CEO of forgood, an online platform that connects people with over 500 reputable causes across the country. “Citizens and businesses are eager to become socially active and engaged but they are often time strapped. Virtual volunteering, besides being quick, simple and easy, allows individuals to do good from anywhere at any time – even from your office cubicle.”
An employee’s engagement and commitment to a company is increasingly influenced by the way that the business engages not only with its employees, but also the larger social sector in which it operates.
“With virtual volunteering, employees can become active social citizens without having to leave the office. The benefit of this for business is increased morale and increased staff retention. An added bonus is that employee volunteer hours can be incorporated into a company’s CSI mandate, which contributes to its BBBEE ratings. It’s a win-win scenario for all,” says Hadfield.
Why virtual volunteering is taking off:
* It is inclusive: Anybody with access to a computer can participate, including those with restricted mobility or other special needs. Parents with young children and family obligations can get involved. It really is about making a difference from your own desk, home or holiday spot.
* It offers variety: Virtual volunteering traditionally has suited tasks like graphic design, social media management, editing and research work. Increasingly so it is branching out to include things like mentorship, proposal writing, strategic assistance, translation and counseling. The possibilities are endless – give a thought to what you personally can offer and then give it a try.
* It’s a win-win set-up: Instead of trying to fit in to a traditional volunteer programme (that often has set times and longer term commitments), you can offer of the kind of work you want to do and are good at. Rather than needing to find premises and funding for skilled professionals, organisations can put out requests for specific, real-time work that they require done.