Virtual volunteering is a great way to help our community organizations without committing a lot of time and on your own terms. Between school, extracurricular activities, and maybe even part-time jobs, we know how valuable your time is to you. How can you get ahead, gain experience, meet new friends, and help your community in between all the life stuff? Enter virtual volunteering. As long as you have a smartphone, computer, tablet - you can help! It is not limited by geography, physical ability, or work arrangement. Choose to volunteer for an organization here in Red Deer, across the country or across the globe. Without needing to leave your home or worry about catching the bus in time, anytime will work for you.
Volunteering that works with your schedule.
The beauty of becoming a virtual volunteer is that you are in control of how much time you commit, and when. Virtual volunteers can complete one-time, short-term, or ongoing tasks and projects. You may choose to volunteer once to write a blog, over a few months to create content for social media or design a website, or on an ongoing basis for one hour per week over a school year. When virtual volunteering, you decide when you complete the tasks because you are not required to show up in-person at a definite time for a specified timeframe. (Unless a job must be completed within an exact timeline, for example: calling seniors to provide support may not be best done at midnight!)
A great benefit to volunteering is that it can help you develop new skills and excellent work/life experience, something universities, and employers value. Volunteer experience enables you to acquire new hard skills that look attractive on your resume, and also soft and transferable skills invaluable in work and life. Consider what you want to do for a living, or what you love to do in your spare time or what makes you happy. What skills would come in handy for that career? Do you love social media? Maybe you love to write. Perhaps you love to bring joy to others. Consider the types of skills and talents you would like to share or learn through your volunteering and match them to an organization's needs. Some people want to share their professional qualifications while others wish to share their talents not related to their job. Some people are looking to learn a new skill or build up some work experience. Most organizations will be happy to be a reference for you to help you get a new job or apply for college or university.
What are hard and soft skills, anyway?
Hard skills are teachable and measurable abilities, such as writing, reading, math, or the ability to use computer programs. Hard skills are abilities learned on the job, through training, apprenticeships, formal education, or courses. Hard skills are teachable, quantifiable, and related to a specific task. In contrast, soft skills, or transferable skills, are the traits and abilities not unique to any situation. They make you a good employee - etiquette, communication and listening, getting along with other people. They are skills and abilities that are relevant and helpful across different areas of life: socially, professionally, and at school. They are 'portable skills.' Soft skills come in handy when applying for a job or when someone is thinking about a career change. Employers often look for people who can demonstrate a good set of soft skills.
Some examples of hard skills:
Some examples of soft skills:
Adaptability and flexibility
How do I get started with virtual volunteering?
As with any volunteer opportunity, there are steps to ensure that you and the organization are a good match. Some opportunities require specific expertise and screening; others don't. Police Record Checks and Vulnerable Sector Checks can sound intimidating. However, these are simply a formality for some organizations that work with vulnerable individuals (children, seniors, mental health, etc.). They conduct these checks to ensure everyone's safety and aren't looking to get you in trouble or to judge you. Please note this may not prevent you from volunteering with a particular organization in certain circumstances if you have a record. Final discretion is ultimately made by the organization. It may be subject to approval depending on the charge(s) and their relevance to the services they provide for clients. Depending on the position or task, the steps to get started include some or all of the following:
• Completing an online application form
• Sending your resume and references
• Meeting/connecting for an interview (by phone or online)
• Getting a Police Record Check, or a Vulnerable Sector Check
• Completing an online orientation
• Participating in position-specific training
Applying for a volunteering gig will give you great experience in interviewing skills. Almost everyone dreads the interview process, and it can be intimidating. However, as with many things in life, we only get better and more comfortable with the process with more practice. Organizations are not out there to judge you. The interview process is simply a formality to get to know you better, see what you're interested in, and engage in anything available at their organization. Think of it more as a meet and greet for both of you. The interview process also helps you decide if the organization and tasks are of interest and that you want to commit to after learning more about them.
Examples of Virtual Volunteering
So, what can you do for virtual volunteering? Virtual volunteering can offer a variety of tasks ranging from one-off projects to long-term possibilities. Some opportunities require specific expertise and screening; others don't. Many are skills-based.
What is Skills-Based Volunteering?
Skills-based volunteering happens whenever someone uses their abilities, talents, networks, and resources to get a volunteering commitment completed. It means using the specialized skills and talents of individuals to benefit the nonprofit, helping them build and sustain their capacity to achieve their missions. Check out this link to resources and articles that discuss skills-based volunteering in more detail.
How do I find a virtual volunteer opportunity?
First, think about a cause that you are passionate about, or would like to learn more about. Do you love animals? The environment? Do you want to help seniors? Arts and culture? Check their website if there is a specific organization you are interested in. Alternatively, check out our "Find the Right Fit" tool help guide you in finding a cause and area you can get started in.