  Chapter 

Before applying for online volunteering opportunities, make sure you …

  • Have basic IT tools at your disposal: do you have an email account and adequate access to the Internet? Both are crucial for maintaining regular communication with the organizations you support.
  • Enjoy communicating online: collaboration with organizations and fellow volunteers will take place over the Internet. To engage successfully in online volunteering, you should feel comfortable working in an online environment.
  • Consider your expectations: what is your motivation? What do you hope to gain by volunteering online? What skills and expertise can you offer an organization? Answering these questions will help you identify volunteer opportunities that are right for you.
  • Are aware of cultural differences: online volunteering connects people of various backgrounds from around the world, making it a truly multicultural experience. Being aware of cultural differences, diverse working styles and the challenges that arise from communicating in different languages is crucial to successfully engaging in online volunteering.
  • Assess your self-motivation: you will have a great degree of flexibility in terms of the time you will be spending on an assignment. Characteristically, supervision of online volunteering is irregular. It is therefore imperative that, as an online volunteer, you are able to organize your own schedule, be self-motivated and enjoy working independently.
  • Set enough time aside: you should be confident that you can dedicate enough time for your online volunteering activities. Remember, once you have signed up for an assignment, you will have made a commitment to an organization – they will, therefore, be counting on you to complete the task for which you volunteered within a specified timeframe.

Collaborating with online volunteers remains a new experience for many organizations. The initial experience of volunteering online may leave room for improvement; every online collaboration should be viewed as a learning curve for both organizations and online volunteers.

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