Life has shifted from face-to-face to face-to-screen-to-face this past year. There's no need, though, to wait out the pandemic to make a difference from home. Rather than spending the unexpected free time the rest of this year dreading each day, use that same energy towards volunteering from the comfort of your bed or couch or patio.
Here are seven ways you can volunteer safely and virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. United Nations Volunteer Program
This first suggestion can be competitive — it is the United Nations, after all. But, the opportunities are amazing: from helping with technology services, writing, research, translation, and more, there is something there for everyone. My tip is to set up email alerts, so when something is posted that fits what you can do and what you want to do, you'll be one of the first to know.
2. Smithsonian Digital Volunteers
Passionate about education, science and/or history? Love the Smithsonian but live far from Washington D.C.? You can volunteer virtually with the Smithsonian by updating relevant Wikipedia pages for them as well as transcribing historical documents.
If you're technologically inclined and have proofreading skills, Bookshare might be a great fit. They work on perfecting an ebook library to help those with reading barriers to be able to read in a way that suits them best. What you'd do is scan books and utilize OCR software to help expand their collection. You'd also be able to clean up scanned files and format them as needed.
4. Letters Against Isolation
Rather than connecting with others face-to-face, you can connect through the written word. Letters Against Isolation allows you to sign up to write letters to care homes in the U.S. and abroad. You can write as many as you'd like, and although you won't be able to see how your letter made someone feel, you'll come out of it making someone's day.
5. The Trevor Project
Although this opportunity does have quite the process to be able to do it, the chance to make a difference from home is high. The Trevor Project provides life-saving support to LGBTQ youth through crisis intervention services. The onboarding process for volunteers does include an interview, background check, and training, but well worth it.
6. Ted Translators
This is another not-so-easy volunteer opportunity, but if you fit the requirements, you'll get the chance to help spread ideas to a global audience for TED Talks.
7. None of that fits with me
No worries! Begin listing what you can do and also like to do. The more you like to do something, the more eager you'll be to do what you need to do, especially remotely. It's harder to be accountable when it's just yourself, a laptop, and well... yourself.
Make a list, check it twice and then head over to these volunteering search engines: Volunteer Match, Catchafire or Idealist.