Digital Volunteering: A New Way to Give Back
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted and transformed almost every industry, field, and activity imaginable in our society, including essential volunteering and charitable activities. At Volunteer The Hague, we’ve seen firsthand the pandemic’s adverse impact on both nonprofit organizations and our community’s devoted volunteers. This is especially problematic, because in addition to everything else the pandemic has disrupted, it has also exacerbated social and economic inequalities, and this often affects the most vulnerable in our society. We all have some familiarity with the effects on the education sector, such as teacher shortages, reduced study time for students, and funding issues. Similarly, other fields have also suffered shortages in staff and in funding, including elderly care, social work (in particular, work with the homeless), animal care, human rights, and charitable giving, among others.
But as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and it has been impressive to see how quickly many of these fields have adapted to these changing circumstances by going digital in order to continue their important work. And it has been just as inspiring to see how many volunteers have plugged into this new digital landscape in order to help these organizations continue to fulfill their missions!
So what is digital volunteering? Simply put, it is any volunteering activity that one can do from the comfort of their own home using an internet connection and their phones or laptops. What is less clear is the impact: How is it that one can effectively help others when being face-to-face isn’t possible? In truth, before last year it was also hard for us to imagine. But over the last 18 months, we’ve seen a flood of digital volunteer opportunities posted on our website by dozens of organizations in The Hague region and we’re here to tell you definitively: You can still make a difference!
What are some examples? One of our favorites was an opportunity from earlier this year from a local elderly care home that was seeking a volunteer conversation buddy for some of their elderly residents. But to maintain safety and social distancing, these conversations happened on Zoom! This was a great way to help these elderly residents not feel so alone during the pandemic while at the same time helping them get involved with the digital revolution we’re all experiencing.
And there have been many other types of digital opportunities: volunteer project manager opportunities for nonprofits and NGOs, online teaching opportunities, translation and interpretation tasks, graphic design and communications, and even online fitness lessons for kids and adults! Just as it has become possible for many of us to work from home when we never would have imagined that possibility two short years ago, it is absolutely feasible – and even easy – to continue engaging in volunteer activities digitally for both safety and convenience. It’s also worth noting that digital volunteering can still provide all the benefits of in-person volunteering, such as being able to gain job skills when you are between jobs, beefing up your resume, expanding your social circles, and networking. Finally, digital volunteering can also allow those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to volunteer (due to time or transportation constraints, for example) to get involved!
Whether you regularly engage in volunteer activities or are just curious about getting involved in this new digital volunteering revolution, we encourage you to take a look at the Volunteer The Hague website so you can explore what may be out there for you. We have hundreds of volunteer opportunities in English listed from organizations all over The Hague region who are eager to work with internationals – in person and digitally. We hope you’ll check them out so you can get involved in your local communities, even from the comfort of your own homes!