Virtual Volunteering: Giving back during the Pandemic

Woman looking at computer during virtual volunteering.

Photo by Jacob Lund from Noun Project


Volunteering is one of the most common ways of giving back to local communities. While finding time to donate isn’t easy, it is a great way to learn new skills, gain experiences, feel a sense of belonging, and improve self-esteem. Giving back during a difficult time helps to regain a sense of control, and connects us to a humanity greater than just ourselves. In fact, many people accomplished in their careers attribute their success to the networks and connections they have built through volunteering. 

In 2018, over 12.7 million Canadians volunteered for charities, nonprofits and community organizations and over one third of Canadian volunteers indicated that they received support from their employers to engage in their local community. However with the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of volunteering that we used to engage in has stopped. 

With such a volunteer culture ingrained in us as community members and socially-conscious businesses, how do we continue to volunteer during a pandemic? 

Virtual Volunteering 

Virtual volunteering is done online, via computers, tablets, or smartphones, usually off-site from the non-profit organization being supported. Through the pandemic, more organizations are required to leverage technology and the internet to engage those who want to contribute their skills and time.

Virtual volunteering offers flexibility to volunteers, allowing volunteers to finish a task or project around their own schedule. While traditional forms of volunteering limits volunteers by their geography, physical ability or work arrangement, virtual volunteering breaks those barriers - all you need is   your computer. You could be sitting in Toronto and volunteering back in your hometown in Vancouver!

Skill-Based Volunteering

However virtual volunteering does have its limitations. While you may be able to volunteer from anywhere in the world, labour intensive opportunities such as tree planting or volunteering at a food bank would be difficult to achieve online. Therefore, virtual volunteer opportunities offered by nonprofits are often skill-based. 

MeaningfulWork is a collaborative online platform that connects volunteers to skill-based opportunities at impactful nonprofits. The top opportunities that we have found nonprofits requesting include:

  • Social media strategy development 

  • Technology solution advising

  • Graphic design 

  • Legal Support

  • Project proposal writing  

  • Financial analysis 

  • Translation, editing or proofreading of documents

  • Social media posting and blogs

  • Project management plan for new program or service  

  • Seeking mentors or experts in a field

  • And many more!

The commitment required ranges based on nonprofit needs. At MeaningfulWork we categorize opportunities into three: Strategic Advising, Project-Based, and Events

  1. Strategic Advising is a great way to spend a few hours with a nonprofit in your area of expertise providing them advice on topics such as marketing strategy, legal support, and financial planning. 

  2. If you’re looking to get your hands dirty through Project-Based opportunities, you can volunteer a few hours a week to support promoting an upcoming fundraiser, analyzing financials, or creating graphic design as a few examples.

  3. Event opportunities are catered towards volunteers looking for speaking engagements. It is a great way to represent your organization, yourself, and share your knowledge at nonprofit events like conferences, dialogues, pitch competitions, and more!

One more way to give back through volunteering is to join a nonprofit board. Although it is a longer commitment, it provides opportunities for greater personal development and the networking while building your presence in the nonprofit sector.

If you’re ready to start finding Virtual Volunteer Opportunities, we’d love for you to join MeaningfulWork. We’ll help you give back to your community with your skills for the causes that you care about! 

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