The Benefits of Online Volunteering

Written by Tahira Majothi, Careers Consultant at The Careers Service

For students and graduates interested in social causes with a view of working in the not-for-profit or international development sectors, there tend to be few formal graduates schemes.

Typically volunteering is a great way to support a cause you believe in whilst providing you with insights into the workings of the organisation, the challenges as well as the opportunities. Volunteering and entry level roles also let you have sight of vacancies before they are externally advertised.

However, in the current climate, many in person volunteering opportunities have likely been put on hold or scaled back. In which case you may want to consider online or virtual volunteering.

Online or virtual volunteering allows you to make a worthwhile contribution to organisations and charities in the UK or overseas by way of your phone, tablet or computer! It can be a cost effective and relatively simple way to make a difference to people and communities. You could work across different countries and time zones; enhance your research, analysis, teamwork and communication skills whilst expanding your professional networks.

Here are some well-known volunteering organisations offering online opportunities:

The University’s Volunteering Hub has a list of projects from Trusted Partners, which are organisations that have been verified. These organisations offer volunteering opportunities across areas such as teaching, enterprise, fundraising and social media.  

United Nations Volunteers opportunities across research, writing, art & design, project or volunteer management and healthcare services to name a few.

VolunteerMatch provides opportunities linked to your skills and availability and offers a range of causes you can support including advocacy, working with animals or children and young people, IT, education and literacy. offers opportunities across the UK to support community projects.

Translators without Borders offers language and translation support to NGOs as well as humanitarian aid and development agencies. You must be able to speak at least one other language in addition to your native language.

Missing Maps might be of interest if you have cartography skills. This work involves helping to map remote areas to support humanitarian and emergency crisis teams reach vulnerable people in need.  

Amnesty Decoders  use phones or computers to sift through documents, images and information to research and highlight human rights violations.

Smithsonian Digital volunteers help transcribe historical documents and biodiversity data to make the resources more accessible to the wider public.

TEDTalks Translators transcribe and subtitle TED Talks across different languages and cultures.

Whether volunteering in person or online, research the organisation and its work before making any commitments. For example are there costs involved, what training and support will be offered, what equipment/technology will be provided, are you covered by their insurance and risk assessments and will you be volunteering on your own. The Volunteering Hub has great guidance around safety and volunteering. You might also want to complete the University’s Social Justice Challenge, which covers themes such as race, migration, homelessness and mental health.

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