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Being committed to a cause used to mean spending time in the streets or on a site doing the work that was necessary for the day to day function of a charity. While non-profits of all sizes and descriptions still need volunteers on-site who can roll up their sleeves and do work in person. However, not all volunteers need to be in the same building to benefit the community. There are plenty of ways that you can donate your time and talents to the causes that you care about without ever leaving your home.

This is called virtual volunteering.

Virtual volunteers perform a number of essential functions for non-profits including data entry, volunteer tracking, and website development. They participate in specific campaigns, fulfilling roles like social media manager, video editing, and graphic designer. They also provide general support as virtual assistants, app developers, and marketing managers. All of these roles can be fulfilled remotely and are important for the growth and sustainability of non-profit organizations.

There are a number of organizations that have well established virtual volunteer programs. They include the Red Cross, the Smithsonian Institute, and the United Nations. Get in touch with your favorite non-profit and see if they have any virtual volunteer programs already set up. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

However, if there aren’t any pre-existing programs it doesn’t mean that you can’t offer your services. Talk with the volunteer coordinator at your local non-profit and ask if there is anything that you can do to help. If you have a portfolio of work, share that with them, and see if you can help with any projects that are currently happening.

Some non-profits are reluctant to bring virtual volunteers on-board for projects because volunteers tend to be transient and many of the projects they have running require commitment. They would much rather raise money to pay for a photographer than to use a volunteer photographer. If that is an issue, offer them a contract that sets out your expectations and commitment from the beginning.

You can also offer to tell your story. Non-profits are always looking for testimonials, and you can help them by adding your voice to the chorus of people telling the world how they have changed your community. You don’t have to be in front of a live audience to do this; offer to record a video or write a touching blog post.