Over the past eighteen months the world has rapidly adjusted to an online world, this also applied to volunteering. As we come out of lockdown (and potentially back into a lockdown… plan B?) we’re thinking about how online volunteering compares to in person volunteering.
Advantages of Virtual Volunteering
Volunteering taking place online allows anyone, anywhere, to get involved. Previously in person volunteering may have had barriers preventing people getting involved with volunteering however online volunteering helps reduce the number of these. All you need is a laptop with good internet connection, this means the reach of volunteers is far bigger. With people all over the world volunteering together it really allows people to develop their global perspective.
In person volunteering requires a certain amount of travel to the location of the volunteering. When volunteering takes place online this is cut out entirely, making volunteering less of a time commitment for a lot of volunteers. Volunteering online is often very flexible, making it even easier to get involved with, you can fit volunteering in around your schedule.
A lot of the online volunteering opportunities are skilled based, this has the advantage of not only making it easy to volunteer your skills if you’re already an expert in a specific field, but also allows you to develop new skills without taking classes to do so if you don’t yet have those skills. This also allows you to develop personal skills, and gain feedback, in a relatively low risk environment.
Advantages of In-Person Volunteering
Sense of mission
Volunteering with the service users directly allows volunteers to bond directly and become emotionally invested in the cause that they’re volunteering for. This also allows volunteers to develop a deeper understanding of the extent to which their work is contributing to helping others and an understanding of what more needs to be done.
When volunteering for a cause that you’re passionate about you’re likely to meet others that share a common interest in the projects you’re volunteering with. Volunteering in person allows you to meet other people face to face and gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills, since you are meeting regularly with a group of people with common interests. Once you have momentum, it’s easier to branch out and make more friends and contacts.
Although all the charities and NGO’s we work with do their best to support you, when volunteering takes place online it’s easier to feel more isolated and less supported by the team that you’re volunteering with. If you have any queries it can often feel more intimidating to raise them when everyone is remote. When volunteering in person meeting the rest of the volunteers allows you to feel comfortable and supported in your role by the team atmosphere that is created by in person volunteering.
As we begin to find the optimal mix of online and in person volunteering opportunities it’s clear that both have their own benefits however what’s most important to consider is the wants and needs of an individual. Each person will have a different preference of online or in person, or a mix of the two, and finding the perfect opportunity for you is now more possible than ever. The move to a mix of online and in person volunteering can only be welcomed as ultimately it makes volunteering more accessible and therefore allows greater numbers of people to volunteer.
If we’ve inspired you to volunteer, check out one of our other 200+ ongoing opportunities or book a one-to-one with David Coles, the Volunteer Centre Manager if you have more questions. If you are short on time, then take a look at the one-off opportunities that will return for Michaelmas Term 2021, organised by the LSE Volunteer Centre. And why not follow us on Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with our events and opportunities and read our blog for more volunteering tips and stories.