Can I still make a difference with a unpredictable work schedule?
March 5, 2011 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Are there ways I can meaningfully volunteer my time online?

I have an increasingly erratic work schedule that which limits my ability to volunteer with organizations that I care about. I was wondering if there are ways to meaningfully volunteer my time online? I know about some of the tiny "micro-volunteer" websites, but I'm interested in providing a more sustained contribution.

Organizations that I've volunteered in the past have focused on: Environmental organizations, adult literacy, childhood reading/learning, tutoring, helping non-traditional students succeed, homelessness and poverty.
posted by arnicae to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
I was going to mention Between Bars but it recently closed down, although there is a email address if you want to try. I have done some proofreading and tidying up of documents for a local organization.
posted by francesca too at 9:53 AM on March 5, 2011

If you are interested in helping out online, you should check out folding@home or one of the other volunteer orgs that use your unneeded cpu or gpu cycles.
Its just a simple program and it helps solve big problems, there is a climate one as well but the name escapes me.
posted by handbanana at 10:02 AM on March 5, 2011

Seeing Literacy is big, why not volunteer for Project Gutenberg? You could proofread books or help burn copies for people without internet access.
posted by Caravantea at 10:26 AM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

How about Galaxy Zoo? (On my phone, so no link, sorry.)
posted by Netzapper at 10:27 AM on March 5, 2011

If you have any experience in grant writing, I bet you could find a local organization that would love to give you a grant to write in your spare time at home.
posted by geegollygosh at 10:36 AM on March 5, 2011

I also know that you can volunteer for RAINN online as a volunteer listener for people who want to talk about their experiences with sexual assault. I don't really know what the volunteer process is like, but I've used the chat function with one of their volunteers and found it really helpful.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 10:53 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Came in to also recommend RAINN. You do need to attend a training session once, but after that, you can volunteer as little as one hour a week, when your schedule permits.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:56 AM on March 5, 2011

VolunteerMatch has a lot of "virtual" volunteer opportunities.
Use their advanced search function and select "virtual".

Everything from web design, research, communicating with ESL students, etc
posted by KogeLiz at 12:11 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've been intending to get involved with the 1947 Partition Archive as a transcriptionist. Maybe that's up your alley too?
posted by soviet sleepover at 12:53 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Crisis mapping? I don't know a whole lot about this, but it sounds SO COOL and it looks like you don't need to have a background in it - they provide training.
posted by naoko at 2:59 PM on March 5, 2011

Came in to recommend Project Gutenberg as well. I had a good experience with the Distributed Proofreaders group back when I had more time to spend online.
posted by msittig at 3:58 AM on March 6, 2011

INFINITE FAMILY connects video mentors in living rooms and offices anywhere in the world with southern African teens who have few, if any, adult role models. Share your time, your experience, yourself.

This is a great organization, helping kids who have lost their parents to AIDS. The program was just recognized as part of the CNN Heroes program.
posted by pollex at 8:09 AM on March 6, 2011
posted by tarvuz at 9:56 AM on March 6, 2011

IMAlive is an upcoming online suicide chat hotline. It does cost money for training and requires a minimum time commitment.
posted by MeowForMangoes at 10:01 AM on March 6, 2011

What a great thread. I maintain a list of organizations that have specific online volunteering / virtual volunteering programs (as opposed to involving online volunteers on an ad hoc basis, as most organizations do), and have added a couple from this thread. One caution: online volunteering takes real time; a lot of people sign up to do it thinking it somehow doesn't take any time to do, and then are shocked to find out that the time needed is real, not "virtual."
posted by jcravens42 at 4:44 PM on March 9, 2011

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