Volunteering Chained To My Desk?
November 3, 2006 4:36 PM   Subscribe

VolunteeringFilter: How can I get make a difference without leaving my desk?

I'd like to volunteer with some worthy organizations, but I have a problem: I can't travel far, (I'm a college student) I have trouble traveling near (I'm in a fussy power wheelchair) and my free time is usually late evening, making time sensitive events difficult. I have a strong, clear speaking voice, an annoying slow typing speed, and the ability to use a mouse just fine. I've heard of MediaVolunteer, but I was hoping Mefites might be able to guide me toward smaller-scale projects that fit my condition, or provide tips or success stories. (I'm at Stony Brook if location makes a difference.) Thanks everyone!
posted by StrikeTheViol to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
if political volunteerism is your thing, you might volunteer to be part of the get-out-the-vote squad that works by calling people on the phone. available in blue, green, and red.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 4:52 PM on November 3, 2006

Find a non-profit that needs a website designed or maintained or updated etc. You can do it from your desk and get comments and feedback via email/phone.
posted by tiamat at 5:22 PM on November 3, 2006

You could also sign up for Amnesty's Urgent Action Network:
As soon as Amnesty International learns that a person is in imminent danger of human rights abuse, we alert members of the Urgent Action network in over 70 countries.

Urgent Action network members then compose and send letters, e-mails, faxes and telegrams to the officials - whether presidents or prison governors - who have the power to stop the abuse.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 5:27 PM on November 3, 2006

The best site I've seen is the UN online volunteering clearinghouse.

There's wikipedia, of course. Media coverage lately has made its community sound hopelessly political, but I've never encountered any problems in my minor contributions.

If you've got good internet, I'd really recommend running a Tor server; for now, it's simplest, most effective way to help the Chinese get around the Great Firewall, as far as I know.

And then there's always the ne plus ultra of online volunteerism, the open source software movement. OSS is always in need of people to help with documentation and simple technical support over mailing lists... the need for that is much greater than the need for coders, at this point. I'm happy to recommend specific projects that would be accessible to someone with a non-technical background if you're interested.
posted by gsteff at 5:32 PM on November 3, 2006

Strong seconding Amnesty International's UAN. If you've got a computer you could also set up Folding@Home or a similar worthy distributed computing project.
posted by Paragon at 5:33 PM on November 3, 2006

Support your local public radio station. You can use this link to find an NPR station in your area.
posted by youngergirl44 at 6:09 PM on November 3, 2006

Second phonebanking. Heck, you could install Skype and do it totally free from your computer. You say you have a good voice, so this seems like a good fit if you're political. (I'm political but have a weird phobia of phones, but I know others who've done it successfully.)

In addition to editing Wikipedia (rarely), I enjoy Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders, where you essentially proofread the OCR'd text of scanned pages from out-of-copyright classics. Your typing speed probably won't be a big impediment, because you generally only make a few minor changes. (Unless you go for the "hard" projects.) I get a strange sense of accomplishment from it.
posted by fogster at 7:52 PM on November 3, 2006

Do you speak another language? Can you translate documents? There is a huge need for it, and the UN clearinghouse mentioned earlier is where to go.
posted by anjamu at 12:00 AM on November 4, 2006

Volunteer Match lets you search for local volunteer opportunities - perhaps you can find something that fits your needs there.
posted by xsquared-1 at 5:14 AM on November 4, 2006

What kinds of organizations do you feel most called to support? What issues move you?
posted by amtho at 3:09 PM on November 4, 2006

Is there an organization near you that records books for blind people?
posted by radioamy at 12:28 AM on November 5, 2006

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