Updated October 27, 2020
Offering a variety of volunteer opportunities is one way to ensure that employees or community members find at least one thing in which they’d feel comfortable participating. Has your organization thought about incorporating virtual activities for your remote staff or supporters?
When you think about volunteers, the typical image of a team or community group planting a garden, revitalizing a local park or painting a lively mural at a school comes to mind. Yet all around the globe, at any given time, thousands (if not millions) of engaged citizens volunteer virtually — using their computers, the Internet, even their smart phones.
Virtual volunteers can complete short-term or long-term tasks, in whole or in part, typically off-site from the organization or person being assisted. If you’ve got access to a computer, thousands of different volunteer projects and roles are available to you — from your home, the library, a coffee shop, anywhere with an Internet connection.
Below is a robust resource list categorized by activity, impact area or beneficiaries. Please note, not all opportunities listed below are affiliated with nonprofit organizations. Some will be great for individuals and others more conducive to corporate groups. Keep in mind, there may be fees associated with opportunities for corporate groups. Descriptions are summarized from the corresponding organization’s website and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement from Points of Light.
Don’t forget to check in with local chapters of national nonprofits such as Meals on Wheels as many have integrated virtual volunteer opportunities during the pandemic.
To find up-to-date virtual volunteering opportunities, aggregated from nonprofits around the world, including projects supporting the COVID-19 response, please visit Points of Light Engage.
ARCHIVES & GENEALOGY
Ancestry.com’s World Archives Program (AWAP) provides free software to its volunteers to access already-scanned images and transcribe them into a common, publicly-searchable database. The Ancestry World Archives Project’s online volunteers use their passion for genealogy to help others discover their roots.
Carnamah Historical Society virtual volunteering initiative uses online volunteers to help with transcription and indexing projects to make historical records more discoverable and searchable.
Smithsonian Archives of American Gardens is an online database of thousands of images in the Smithsonian’s Collections Search Center. By correctly tagging an image regarding the types of plants in the image, the structures, objects, people, or any details you notice, you help make that image more useful to professional catalogers in museums, archives and libraries.
The Smithsonian Digital Volunteer program engages the public in making its collections more accessible. Digital volunteers transcribe historic documents and collection records to facilitate research and preserve these valuable assets for future generations.
Disaster & Maps
The American Red Cross always has needs for volunteers to act as digital advocates. Volunteers can help generate donations to the Red Cross while shopping for themselves online or by setting up online fundraisers. Volunteers can also help spread awareness by re-post their social media content.
Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX). Key data needed by humanitarian workers addressing critical needs during a crisis, such as a natural or man-made disaster, as well as data needed by other development workers and researchers, is often trapped in PDF documents. Volunteers extract this data into a database so that it can be easily found, helping anyone to visualize trend lines across regions or countries and compare this data to other indicators.
Humanity Road volunteers use Internet and mobile communications technology to collect, verify and route information online during disasters. They provide public safety information as well as directing the public to governmental and aid agencies that are providing assistance for the disaster.
Map Rectifier Project by the New York Public Library. This geo-rectification toolkit creates layered digital maps utilizing all the information available about a certain geography from sources as varied as Google’s satellite imagery and centuries-old fire insurance land maps. Volunteers index information that records how many floors a building once had or what a street was named at different points in time, and the resulting layered digital map shows the aggregate results.
Around the world, millions of individuals are affected by disasters, disease, and conflict. First responders working with these communities often have to cover large areas, but lack the data necessary for an efficient, effective response. Through MapSwipe, volunteers pinpoint where critical infrastructure and populations are located, allowing mappers to focus only on areas where they know features need to be mapped. With your mobile phone, you can play a part in helping communities around the world, one swipe at a time.
Each year, disasters around the world kill nearly 100,000 and affect or displace 200 million people. Many of the places where these disasters occur are literally ‘missing’ from any map and first responders lack the information to make valuable decisions regarding relief efforts. Missing Maps is an open, collaborative project in which you can help to map areas where humanitarian organizations are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable people.
The National Map Corps (TNM Corps), part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks citizen volunteers to collect data on structures and use it to add new features, remove obsolete points and correct data for The National Map database.
OpenStreetMap is a free editable map of the whole world. It is made by online volunteers. Anyone can contribute to its geographical database.
ENTREPRENEURS AROUND THE WORLD
Bpeace is a U.S. nonprofit that recruits business professionals to help entrepreneurs in countries emerging from war to create and expand businesses and employment (particularly for women). Volunteers need a particular area of expertise regarding business development or project management and pay a monthly membership fee.
Cherie Blair Foundation Online Mentors. Online mentors are successful business women in the U.K., and mentor online women entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Grow Movement recruits online volunteer business consultants from around the world to work via Skype, phone and email to empower African entrepreneurs in Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi, helping them with business skills, enabling them to run their organizations more effectively, increase profitability and create jobs in their communities.
Want to mentor the next generation of socially-responsible young leaders? The Resolution Project is looking for engaged, responsive, and caring volunteer mentors (Resolution Guides) to work with undergraduate social entrepreneurs around the world. Over 250+ Resolution Guides serve as virtual mentors to undergraduate Fellows, supporting them in their personal and professional leadership development and in the implementation of a social venture, while building their own professional skills.
For over 50 years, SCORE has served as America’s premier source of free business mentoring and education. As a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), SCORE has helped more than 11 million entrepreneurs through mentoring, workshops and educational resources since 1964. Volunteers use their business expertise to answer questions online from small business owners, entrepreneurs, and independent contractors.
Audiopedia is a compilation of relevant questions and answers about health, nutrition, family planning, child care, work and more. The content has been carefully developed by experts and has been translated by thousands of volunteers into more than 100 languages. Once a translation has been completed, Audiopedia makes it available using mobile internet and solar-powered MP3 Players for women and girls in developing countries.
Doe Network. Devoted to assisting official law enforcement agencies in solving cold cases concerning unexplained disappearances and unidentified Victims from North America, Australia and Europe. Online volunteers also help translate documents into various languages.
MovingWorlds works with individuals, organizations, and corporate-sponsors to create scalable skills-based programs that create lasting change for all stakeholders.
Mozilla/Firefox. Did you know that this web browser is produced by a nonprofit organization? “We believe in the power and potential of the Internet and want to see it thrive for everyone, everywhere.” Mozilla involves hundreds of online volunteers, and “you don’t have to be a C++ guru (or even know what that means!)” to contribute as an online volunteer.
Nabuur is an online volunteering platform that links volunteers with local communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America so they can learn about each other, share ideas and find solutions to local issues.
Nepris.com: host a webinar for students across the country about your career journey or expertise area, or review requests from teachers for talks on specific topics.
The OpenMRS community is a worldwide network of volunteers from many different backgrounds including technology, health care, and international development. Together, they are working to build the world’s largest and most flexible technology platform to support delivery of health care in some of the most challenging environments on the planet.
Are you passionate about making a global difference in education? Do you want to be part of a movement that enables individuals, teams, and businesses to better solve complex challenges to local and global problems? Do you want to be part of a collaborative multi-national learning team where your contribution is valued and recognized? Then, volunteer with Prepr! Individuals can learn more here. Companies can also engage their employees through Prepr; find out more here.
Respond Crisis Translation offers pro bono translation of legal documents and testimonies and interpretation services for clients in detention centers in the United States and Mexico. Volunteers at Respond hope to give migrants and asylum seekers a fair chance to defend their claims and make their legal case to remain in the United States.
TED Translators are a global community of volunteers who subtitle TED Talks, and enable the inspiring ideas in them to crisscross languages and borders. Bring TED into your language!
Wikipedia, the largest online volunteering initiative in the world. To volunteer, you simply find an article you have some knowledge of and add information to the entry. Note that Wikipedia now strongly encourages all additions to any entry be attributed to a verifiable source. Available in Spanish, French, German, Polish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese and more!
The Zooniverse is the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research. This research is made possible by volunteers. With our wide-ranging and ever-expanding suite of projects, covering many disciplines and topics across the sciences and humanities, there’s a place for anyone and everyone to explore, learn and have fun in the Zooniverse. To volunteer with Zooniverse, just go to the Projects page, choose the one you like the look of, and get started.
HEALTH, WELL-BEING & EMPOWERMENT FOR ALL
Join with the American Red Cross to begin a SleevesUp campaign. No blood mobile or space is needed. Simply create your campaign online, and send an invitation to your friends and family members from around the country to join you in donating blood and saving lives.
Amnesty Decoders is an innovative platform for volunteers around the world to use their computers or phones to help our researchers sift through pictures, information and documents. Join a global network of digital volunteers helping us research and expose human rights violations.
Be My Eyes is a free mobile app with one main goal: to make the world more accessible for blind and low-vision people. The app connects blind and low-vision individuals with sighted volunteers from all over the world through a live video call.
Family Eldercare offers Lifetime Connections Without Walls, which is a telephone activities program that provides opportunities for older adults to connect with others in their community and across the country. We offer social and educational sessions, support groups, and friendly conversation, all from the comfort of home. From facilitating sessions to reminding participants about sessions, volunteers are a vital component of Lifetime Connections Without Walls. Best of all, you can volunteer virtually. All you need is a computer, internet connection, and phone.
Girls Inc. focuses on the development of the whole girl in partnership with schools and centers. Girls Inc. invites you to spread their message by becoming a social ambassador. Dedicate 5 minutes every week on social media to amplify our story on social media and share why you believe in the mission of Girls Inc. You can also check out your local chapter of Girls Inc. to see if they have virtual volunteer opportunities in your community.
IMAlive is a live online crisis network and a project by the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, To Write Love On Her Arms and PostSecret. Online volunteers must be at least 18 years old, complete at least 20 hours training and a series of tests and screenings, and willing to commit to responding four hours a week for one year, or eight hours a week for six months. They also must pay, or fundraise, a fee to cover training and support costs.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline. Online volunteers who staff the online hotline have to complete a training course facilitated by RAINN, complete a background check, and be on time for shifts.
Sidelines, a USA-based non-profit organization providing international support for women and their families experiencing complicated pregnancies and premature births. Much of this support is provided by online volunteers who have experienced complicated pregnancies and premature births themselves.
Millions of refugees and people in need of humanitarian assistance struggle with language barriers. Help give them on-demand language access through Tarjimly. Volunteers download the app and are connected to beneficiaries who need translation support through a live chat session.
Trevor Project is an online, social networking community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth ages 13-24, and their friends and allies. Online volunteers monitor the TrevorSpace site in an effort to maintain a safe online space for young LGBTQ people. Trainings for online volunteers are provided quarterly.
Help to bring personalized voices to people with speech impediments or who have lost their voice, VocaliD is aimed at designing personalized synthetic voices so that people with severe speech impairments can use a voice that fits their body and personality. Share your voice and help drive innovation in voice technology through VocaliD.
BookShare.Org offers thousands of books to people with reading disabilities. As an online volunteer you can either scan books to be added to the collection or edit books that have been scanned.
Distributed Proofreaders. These online volunteers turn public domain books into online books, mostly for Project Gutenberg. Many volunteers work on a book at the same time and proofread each other’s work.
Learning Ally. Many audiobooks are created with text-to-speech software that scans text from computer files and uses synthesized human voices to read the text aloud. However, illustrations or figures used throughout the books are not included. Online volunteers type those figure descriptions into the text, enabling students to receive ALL book material, not just the text.
LibriVox is a nonprofit that coordinates online volunteers to record audio versions of public domain books.
Through the online platform, ‘StoriiTime,’ parents can set up a video call with their child and an isolated senior. Seniors can read children’s books to little ones, or kids can read to a senior. This virtual interaction can improve a child’s listening, social and vocabulary skills and support seniors by bringing joy and a connection to an experienced older generation.
Translators Without Borders recruits volunteers who want to translate texts into different languages for NGOs and nonprofits.
MENTORING & TUTORING
Career Village. An online platform where students ask career questions that are answered by people working, or that have worked, in that field. All you need is a LinkedIn account to start helping students become better informed about the career decisions they are facing.
CricketTogether was developed in response to an increasing demand for youth mentorship as schools work to instill 21st century skills. The program is a safe, innovative turnkey eMentoring solution that offers employee volunteers a meaningful opportunity to deliver a compelling educational experience for children and teachers across the country.
Empower Work is a nonprofit on a mission to change the way people are supported at work. They provide confidential support for tough work situations via SMS or web chat. Empower Work engages volunteer peer counselors to provide support to those who grapple with some of their biggest challenges at work. Sometimes that might mean navigating a difficult conversation with a boss; other times it might mean weighing the pros and cons of leaving a job.
The Girls with Impact Boardroom is the follow-on virtual mentoring program for girls who have graduated from their 10-week live, online Business Academy class that teaches entrepreneurship classes to high school students. During the Academy, girls go from ideation to creating a business plan for a business, non-profit or venture.
icouldbe.org is meant to connect the energy and expertise of mentors from various professions with the most vulnerable students in the U.S. educational system.
Infinite Family, an online mentoring program matching adults and families in the U.S. with at-risk, impoverished children in South Africa.
Learn To Be provides free one-on-one tutoring to students in underserved communities. Want to make a difference in a student’s life? You can get involved by first filling out an online application and then dedicating a small amount of time each week for tutoring in Learn To Be’s online classroom.
MicroMentor matches small business owners with business mentors. Volunteer mentors should have three years of business ownership experience, or five years of management experience, or several years of professional experience in a specialized skill. The program is part of MercyCorps.
MentorNet, a division of Great Minds in STEM (GMiS), strategically matches STEM students and professionals in compatible online mentoring relationships.
Pacific Community Venture’s BusinessAdvising.org platform enables companies to offer scalable volunteer opportunities that are 100% remote – you can volunteer on the phone, over Facetime and video chat, or even on email. If you have expertise in finance, HR, marketing, and other areas that are specifically helpful to serve as a thought partner with small business owners suddenly facing a challenging economic environment, your skills are especially needed now.
PA eMentoring is seeking working and retired adults, parents, and mature college students, ready to volunteer 15 minutes per week from your computer as online mentors for teens and young adults. Must be willing to write about and share your own “college” and career story.
ScholarMatch makes college possible for underserved youth, from application all the way through college graduation. Community members inspire our students and create life-changing opportunities. Volunteer virtually as a college coach or career coach!
The School in the Cloud is a platform, driven by a global community, that connects Self-Organised Learning Environments and the Granny Cloud in an organic movement toward a more inclusive, universal education. Anyone can create a SOLE — spark curiosity in children by asking them to explore a Big Question using the Internet and their ability to work together. Learning happens spontaneously in these purposefully chaotic environments.
Skills for Change is known for pioneering programs that respond to shifting immigration and workplace trends and lead to employment. Join their e-mentoring program to assist skilled internationally-educated professionals in their settlement process, language skills development, and provide entrepreneurship guidance.
Through StudentMentor.org’s innovative national mentoring program based on its pioneering technology platform, college students can conveniently find and collaborate with mentors from diverse industries and professions to achieve their academic and career goals.
In an on-demand, digital age, where your next ride is available via the tap of your finger, why should volunteerism be restricted by city lines? Virtual volunteering can solve distance dilemmas. With online sessions through TeensGive.org, high school volunteers can connect with children attending Title 1 schools across the country. Teen volunteers can host free one-on-one virtual tutoring sessions to help kids with homework or improve their reading, writing, and math skills.
TutorMate is an online volunteer program designed to support literacy learning in grade one classrooms. The program uses interactive technology to create an integrated online experience that connects corporate volunteers and first grade students. During weekly tutoring sessions, the tutor and student work on activities that foster fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. According to their website, they are presente in 24 major cities in the US, Canada and the UK.
UPchieve is a free, online platform that connects low-income high school students in the U.S. with live, volunteer coaches (that’s you!) any time they need it. Coaches provide either math tutoring or college counseling, to help students improve their grades, academic motivation, and chances of going to college.
Year Up creates a supportive community for students and they are always looking for new faces to help. A mentorship is an especially personal way to impact a young adult’s life. As a mentor to a Year Up student, you’ll have a unique opportunity to help young adults navigate new experiences and shape their careers. It’s your chance to inspire—and be inspired by—motivated, up and-coming talent in the workforce. You’ll also have opportunities to network with like-minded professionals.
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING
CodePath.org is building the largest pipeline of high-performing underrepresented engineers in the tech industry. As a result, many of our students are enrolled in Computer Science (or related) degree programs and come from underrepresented backgrounds. Students are seeking assistance with a variety of goals including technical interview practice, determining their career path, turning an idea into a business plan, and more. Check out how you can become a virtual mentor!
Crisis Commons / CrisisCamp mobilizes technology volunteers to work together to create disaster response and learning events with volunteers, who collaborate to aggregate crisis data, develop prototype tools and train people on how to use technology tools to aid in disaster response. Online volunteers need to be experienced, credible IT experts and need to sign up before a crisis.
DemocracyLab helps tech for good projects launch by connecting skilled volunteers to projects that need them. Open to projects from individuals, community organizations, non-profits, social purpose companies and government agencies, their platform helps volunteers give back and develop new skills, while accelerating the evolution of new technologies that empower citizens and help institutions become more accessible, accountable, and efficient.
FLOSS Manuals’ online volunteers produce free manuals about Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in their own language. To date, they have completed 120+ manuals in more than 30 languages, such as French, English, Farsi, Dutch, and Finnish.
Geeks Without Bounds is an international coalition of passionate problem solvers working together through the use of technology to assist people whose survival is threatened due to violence, neglect, or catastrophe. Online volunteers need to be experienced, credible IT experts and need to establish a relationship with this organization before a crisis.
Volunteers are a key element of NPower’s program success. As part of preparing our students for a career in technology, we engage tech professionals throughout our program to share their knowledge, experience, insight, and advice. Interacting and learning from professionals in the industry is a crucial part to our students becoming well rounded professionals. Connect with NPower students in-person or virtually, in small or large group settings, and for short or long-term projects. NPower can create a customized volunteer experience suited to your team’s needs that readies each student for career success.
Pursuit is looking for the best developers and technologists to help train the next generation of tech leaders in NYC. Volunteers can get involved by helping us identify talented candidates in the student selection process, by working one-on-one with Developers as TA’s or mentors, by sharing their expertise as guest speakers and workshop leaders, and helping to shape curriculum.
Science Buddies Ask an Expert Program is a free online forum where students and parents can ask questions about K-12 science projects. Volunteer experts work together to provide personalized assistance with students who have questions about any phase of their project, from coming up with an idea to analyzing data to displaying results at a science fair.
Technovation is a global tech education nonprofit that empowers girls and families to become leaders, creators and problem-solvers. They offer two programs – Technovation Girls and Technovation Families – which bring kids and adults together to solve big problems in their communities. Their Technovation Challenge needs people to judge middle and high school students’ apps and business plans in the April–June timeframe. It is a two hour minimum time commitment, and you don’t need to be technical. Training is provided!
TechGirlz’ mission is to inspire middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers. They accomplish that mission through the creation of free, fun, interactive TechShopz led by industry professionals, leaders and students. Build your marketable skills like public speaking, teaching and tech know-how, and expand your network while teaching fun, hands-on workshops alongside others in the tech industry. Browse their current volunteer opportunities and get started.
TechSoup has a series of discussion groups where nonprofits ask questions about technology. You can log into the community at any time and try to help nonprofits and volunteers with questions about software, databases and more. TechSoup also needs volunteers to transcribe its most popular archived webinars.
American Corporate Partners provides veterans with mentoring through ACP AdvisorNet – an online network of volunteer advisors from corporate partners who commit to sharing their business expertise and advice with military veterans and their immediate family. Veterans can post questions related to employment, career development and small business. Your company must be a partner in order to take advantage of this opportunity. ACP welcomes applications from spouses of active duty service members as well as surviving spouses and spouses of severely wounded post-9/11 veterans to mentor spouses of active duty service members.
Hire Heroes USA works to create job opportunities for U.S. military veterans and their spouses. The majority of its volunteers participate remotely helping with mock interviews, career counseling, or providing guidance on job searches, preparing resumes and filling out applications.
SEARCH ENGINES FOR VIRTUAL VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
All for Good is Points of Light’s database of thousands of volunteer opportunities, many of which can be completed remotely. To find virtual opportunities, make sure to put “virtual” in your keyword search under “More options” when searching.
Catchafire uses their website to match professionals with nonprofits based on their skills, cause interest and time availability. You’ll find tons of skills-based volunteering opportunities, many of which can be completed virtually.
Create the Good is an initiative by AARP to help its members get connected with nonprofits and causes. Anyone can use the site to find virtual volunteering activities in support of a variety of organizations. Enter either “virtual” or “online” in the keyword search, chose any for distance and date, and leave your postal code blank.
Crowd4U is a microvolunteering and crowdsourcing platform, an all-academic open and generic platform for “Crowdsourcing for Good,” providing a task pool for microtasks for academic and public purposes. Crowd4U also serves as a testbed for developing advanced crowdsourcing technologies.
Cuso eVolunteering‘s innovative e-volunteering program connects volunteers to their international partners remotely. They have a job board that included current e-volunteering opportunities offered. Also, if you are unsure whether e-volunteering is right for you or not, Cuso has a quiz designed to find out if if e-volunteering is suitable for you.
Help From Home has a mix of volunteering activities you can do from home, both online and without a computer. Most are microvolunteering – tasks that require just a few minutes or a few hours.
Idealist has many volunteer tasks listed on its site that can be completed online.
Taproot+ is a marketplace for short-term, individual pro bono consulting projects, curated by the Taproot Foundation. Many of these volunteer projects can be completed remotely.
United Nations Volunteers’ online platform connects volunteers with organizations working for sustainable human development. Volunteers contribute their skills online to help organizations address development challenges.
Vollie is an online marketplace based in Australia that connects skilled people to non-profits and charities for skills-based online volunteering. Vollie projects are exclusively online, meaning that people can donate their skills and experience from anywhere in the world and around their busy personal and professional schedule.
VolunteerMatch uses their website to bring good people and causes together. Search through their database of thousands of volunteer opportunities, and be sure to look for those opportunities that are virtual.