When you think of volunteering, you might imagine travelling to faraway lands or at least rolling up your sleeves and doing something hands-on for your local community. Whereas these are great ways to contribute, the age of technology has enabled us to volunteer in one other way as well- over the Internet.
There are many organizations nowadays looking for online volunteers, and your role can vary from building websites or doing community management to offering free professional advice to NGOs. Whether you have programming or writing skills, experience in project management, knowledge of another language, expertise in law or education, or just know how to fix a leaky tap, you can contribute greatly.
Volunteer With an Organization
This is pretty much what you would do if you wanted to volunteer IRL, so to say. Althogh, mind you, volunteering online is real life too! Choose a project, cause or organization you feel very strongly about and something that you love. Online or offline, as a volunteer you will devote your time to this cause, so make sure your heart is into it. You can try browsing sites of your favorite organizations and contacting them directly on their web or Facebook pages to ask if they could use an online volunteer, or you can search some of the websites like Online Volunteering service, Interconnection or Volunteermatch.
Let the World Read… or Listen
PGDP.net is a website which gathers people who want to proofread texts which are added to the Gutenberg Project. You can also help this ebook collection grow by helping the team proofread and correct uploaded texts. Volunteers usually review scanned images and compare them to the the corresponding OCR text and make sure there are no mistakes before the text goes public.
If you aren’t adept at proofreading, but have a lovely reading voice, why not help make audiobooks? Librivox.org gathers volunteers who read and record chapters of books in the public domain and release them as audio files. Help them make all the public domain books available as free audiobooks so everyone can enjoy them. You need a computer or another device with a microphone and a recording software– there are plenty of very good free apps you might want to consider.
Spread the knowledge
You have a very good understanding of a problem, phenomenon, you have a keen interest in history, know how to explain complicated math problems in a simple manner? Well you might want to consider writing for a Wiki. The most famous Wiki is Wikipedia, of course, and even though it is vast, there is always something missing or something needing an update or a review. Just make sure you always add relevant references!
There are also numerous other Wiki projects, like WikiHow, where you can find information on how to do just about anything! There is also Planet Math, an online mathematic encyclopedia, and there are indeed many Wikias you can join depending on your interests.
Volunteer YourMind or Your Computer – Both Are Invaluable!
There are many scientific projects which require a lot of computing power – but all that power need not come from just one device. When you are not using your computer, connect it to WiFi and join a project like SETI@home or Folding@home, and if you want to put your smartphone to good use, try the Bionic App which does pretty much the same. These projects use your computer’s power for their computing purposes, but only when you allow them to. It doesn’t actually cost you anything and you get to help Science! If you would rather donate some of your brain power, try these scientific games. Don’t let the “game” part fool you, when you are playing, you are actually helping scientists get to the bottom of some very extensive and complicated problems.
So, roll up your sleeves and get to work! And by that I mean: make your self a nice cup of coffe, make your self comfortable and go save the world from your livingroom couch. And if you have some extra time on your hands, go volunteer offline too. It is a wonderful experience and is worth the time and effort.