9 Places to Volunteer Online (and Make a Real Impact)
All you need to make a difference is an internet connection.
by Jackie Menjivar
Somebody somewhere is probably complaining about the fact that folks are spending more and more time online. But what they may not realize is that there’s a whole lot of good that can come from the internet, particularly through online volunteering.
Volunteering online lets you donate your virtual time to a cause space that matters, which means you can make a difference even if you can’t physically volunteer somewhere. Check out our list below to learn about a few different ways you can create IRL impact through online action.
If you’re looking to take your online volunteering worldwide, this is the place to start. UNV connects you with organizations working for peace and development in need of skills like research, writing, art, and design. There are already over 12,000 volunteers from 187 countries lending their talents to organizations around the globe.
This volunteer search tool is exclusively for online volunteer projects. Each one has a timeline that can range anywhere from an hour to a few weeks. So whether you have an afternoon or several, you can help not-for-profit with tasks like writing thank you letters or editing photos.
The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, but even they could use a little help sometimes. Help make their collections more accessible by volunteering online to transcribe historical documents or edit Wikipedia articles related to their artifacts and research.
Operated by Amnesty International, this network of digital volunteers helps conduct research into global human rights violations. Volunteers have used their phones and computers to verify the location of oil spills, find evidence of drone strikes, and flag abusive tweets to women politicians in India.
For those fluent in more than one language, check out this nonprofit that combines language skills with humanitarian aid. Volunteers provide translations (10 million words a year!) to international organizations that focus on crisis relief, health, and education.
Here’s a perfect example of technology being used for good. Become a volunteer to help the Crisis Text Line continue to offer free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. If you’re at least 18 and can commit to volunteering four hours each week, you can apply to be trained for free.
Zooniverse is a platform for people-powered research that literally wouldn’t be possible (or practical) without the help of online volunteers. Spend as much or as little time as you’d like identifying endangered animals, classifying galaxy systems, or transcribing Shakespearean manuscripts.
Founded in 1971, this may just be the virtual volunteering effort that started it all. The goal is to create the largest digital library, and so far they’ve amassed 59,000 free eBooks. Volunteer by donating eligible materials, transcribing books into digital form, or proofreading others’ work.
DoSomething empowers young people to enact social change online or off. Volunteer online through one of our campaigns to help solve real-world problems. DoSomething members have used the internet to successfully urge Apple to diversify their emojis, change the dictionary definition of “Black/black”, and create the largest crowdsourced anti-bullying guide.