It’s been exactly a year since this, hitherto frowned upon phenomenon,”virtual volunteering” took stage and one can confidently say that it has staked its claim in our world of giving. Many theories have been shared and much said about it – some say Yay while others still say Nay, but whatever our say, we all have embraced it in some measure and manner. As we continue to engage in virtual volunteering programs that are based on one-time, short term and even long term volunteer engagement, let’s look at some reasons that make virtual volunteering more impactful and efficient, giving it an advantage over other forms of volunteering.
Small is big: While the number of volunteers and beneficiaries for an in-person session can be very high, virtual volunteers connect more strongly with the beneficiaries if the volunteer to beneficiary ratio is higher and the overall number per session is small. A small group most definitely will have bigger results, with greater take home value for both parties. Break-out rooms are a great way to enhance focus and connect and this always results in higher impact, for both the volunteer and the volunteered.
More often is better: Volunteering from home also means that we multitaskers can engage more often, with ease. Amller and focused engagement can be monitored and measured, making the program more impactful. While in-person engagement involves travel and time and hence had to be planned less often, online lessons allow us the luxury of responding to a volunteer requirement more frequently, especially with students who need help in academics. Tuitions for senior students in less privileged schools are seeing an increasing need and virtual volunteers are very forthcoming to fulfil this.
Unlimited reach: For virtual volunteers, the world is their oyster and they are able to volunteer for a cause in any corner of the world, effortlessly. All you need (apart from the tech set up at home) is a facilitator who will bridge the gap from both ends. At present we have corporate volunteers from UK who are teaching students core subjects regularly and there are a few senior school students in Chengelpet being coached for the NEET exam by volunteers in Mumbai. There are also virtual volunteers who take regular life-skills sessions for rescued bonded labour in various parts of rural Tamil Nadu.
One-on-one is the new buzzword: While group volunteering sessions are always preferred in person, there are some students who need undivided, individual attention on a regular basis. This could be because they have special needs or they aim very high. Either way, the convenience of volunteering online makes it possible for both parties to engage more effectively and in a one-on-one format on a regular basis. Very often, this also leads to mentoring of the beneficiary and is one of the most fulfilling forms of volunteering.
Flexibility: Since you volunteer online and not all of it is face-to-face, the hours are flexible and can be scheduled to match your schedule. You can choose to volunteer weekly or monthly or take up an assignment that needs to be completed in a particular time and emailed back. You can make your own schedule to work on virtual volunteering tasks. This is ideal for people whose work schedule, family responsibilities or health doesn’t permit them to go out to volunteer. You can still know the joy of giving!
Learn and share new skills from home: Virtual volunteering can be a powerful tool for self-growth and learning. In our world of helping others, you can update your skillset, learn new skills and then share them with others. There are many who have learnt to choose creative ways to volunteer – be it creating content for classroom sessions, storytelling, performing online magic shows, dance and movement therapy, body percussion, art & craft, teaching conversational French, life skills, health & hygiene and more.
Meet inspiring people: Last but not the least, the best part of volunteering is the inspiring people you meet. This is even more convenient when virtual! They could be fellow volunteers or people who run our partner NGOs. ‘Inspired and inspiring’ are values that many people in our sector wear lightly. What you do or where you are from ceases to matter in the face of what you promise and what you finally deliver, to help people. That’s the proof of the pudding and what makes your presence matter.
Virtual Volunteers have crafted personal touch points and hybrid formats to make it as real and effective as in-person volunteering. It’s also more inclusive, with scope for innovation through practice and the best way to test is to start volunteering with http://www.chennaivolunteers.org Welcome to our world of volunteering!
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