How to volunteer remotely during a pandemic

2020 was a doozy. I’m sure if we played the “my year was worse than yours” game, we’d all end up in a dark place, but at least we would be there together.

If you, like me have; noticeably indented your parent’s couch, memorised each blade of grass from your house to the mailbox and planned every trip you’ll take for the next fifty years- then remote volunteering is a nice escape. I’ve been transported to Kenya and Cameroon from my bedroom and engaged with Spanish, Malaysian and German volunteers from my dining table. With lockdowns, it seems to be the only adventure I will get.

It is scientifically proven volunteering is good for that gorgeous brain of yours- it gives you a sense of meaning, and promotes happiness, health and well-being. Well, I’m sold.

U.N. Online Volunteering

Run by the United Nations (U.N.), projects are linked to the Sustainable Development Goals. After you create an account, you’ll need to apply by answering questions about your motivation, matching skillset and experience. As an indication of the success rate, I was accepted to 40% of the projects that I applied for. Not going to lie, that first rejection email cracked my fragile state. Some organisations offer a certificate of completion through the U.N., making a nice addition to your LinkedIn profile.

Size of projects: large-scale; expect collaboration with teams and multiple hours each week over months

Type of projects: strategies, programme development, user experience, website building

GivingWay Volunteering

I find the GivingWay website is more personal compared to the U.N. platform. Organisations post local pictures and create manageable tasks that are assigned to specific volunteers. This information is visible to you before an account is created, making it easy to find the most suitable opportunity.

Size of projects: medium-sized

Type of projects: designing a brochure, creating social media posts, updating websites

Zooniverse Volunteering

Do you squeal every time you see an animal? Then this type of remote volunteering is for you. There are multiple ways you can assist researchers- identifying monkeys in the jungle or counting penguins sitting on ice. For me, it was a good alternative to staring out my brother’s living room window and waiting for dogs to pass by. Zooniverse is the Covid-alternative to exploring nature.

Size of projects: short-term; less than an hour

Amnesty Decoders Volunteering

Want to put that big brain of yours to work with data analysis? With Amnesty Decoders, you’ll aid researchers by sifting through pictures, information and documents to investigate human rights violations. Data could mean deciphering tweets to uncover abuse of Indian women politicians or determining how many buildings were destroyed during the strikes in Raqqa.

Size of projects: short-term; a few minutes to hours

Handwritten Cards for the Elderly Volunteering

Bringing it back old school- gather your crafting supplies and your primary school creativity to create handwritten cards for the elderly. You have to pay for postage to the U.S. address but the company forwards your cards to elderly homes in the area.

Size of projects: short-term; less than 1 hour

Translation Services Volunteering

Have you learned another language during your time in quarantine? Or perhaps you were already multi-lingual? Provided you are fluent in at least one language in addition to your native one, then you can give back by translating all types of text from crisis response to medical documents.

Size of projects: short-term; 1-15 hours

Transcription Services Volunteering

If writing is more your style, you can help the Smithsonian institute by transcribing field notes, manuscripts, diaries and other pages. This volunteer option may carry you back in time- transcribing correspondence from 1938 or field notes from 1865. Time travel is a type of travel, right?

Size of projects: short-term; a few minutes to hours. You can transcribe only a part of the document and then click the save button.

Give volunteering a go!

You may not be rich with dolla bills but you will be rich in kindness. Did anyone cringe when they read that- because I sure did. Seriously though, it felt good to pass the time volunteering while I’ve been unemployed, so maybe it will help you too!

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