5 Reasons Why Online Volunteering Might Be Right For You

For the last several years, online volunteering has been on the rise and is quickly gaining popularity with people of all ages. As the world becomes more digitally connected, this form of volunteering is becoming easier and easier to integrate into the lives of everyday people. Just as Google made research easily accessible, and streaming services made TV and movies available on-demand, online volunteering is making volunteering convenient for people of all stripes. 

Of course, prospective online volunteers might be concerned about missing the physical presence of another person, which they could find in an in-person volunteering opportunity. For some prospective volunteers, this is a dealbreaker. But for those who don’t mind video calls and text chat, online volunteering is almost always more convenient, more helpful, and cheaper than in-person volunteer opportunities. In fact, for some prospective volunteers, like introverted and shy people who would prefer not to volunteer in-person, this “drawback” can even be a bonus, and is among the many reasons why people are increasingly choosing to become online volunteers. 

Here are five other ways that online volunteering is bringing volunteering into the future:

1. Flexibility

About 50% of Americans say that they want to volunteer, but don’t have time because of their work schedules. Online volunteer services allow workers not only to volunteer when their schedule allows, but to change their commitments from day to day or week to week. So whether they’re working late, or have surprise plans, or simply don’t have a stable schedule, online volunteering fits into volunteers’ lives the way they want it to. 

UPchieve is built to allow its volunteers to tutor or coach as flexibly as possible. In a recent interview, our strategy consultant Jake Wirfel said that UPchieve’s online tutoring platform is “obviously really helpful for a student—but it's equally helpful for tutors and for coaches, because suddenly I could help at the times that I want to be able to help, which are Sunday mornings, which is a pretty unusual time for most people want to volunteer.”

2. Reaching New People

Online volunteers have the opportunity to help people in need who can’t be reached by in-person volunteers, because many online volunteering opportunities are designed to cover ground that in-person volunteers can’t. UPchieve, for example, is built to help low-income students who can’t access existing after-school tutoring opportunities, because they are busy during the day.

Because we live in an increasingly digital world, where online services are often more accessible than in-person ones, online volunteering allows volunteers to reach all kinds of people in need. UPchieve is available to all students who have access to the Internet via a computer, and we are currently working on making our app mobile-accessible in order to reach students who only have access to the Internet via a mobile phone.

3. Inclusivity and Accessibility

Many Americans want to volunteer, but can’t leave their homes easily or often. Whether these prospective volunteers are disabled, elderly, introverted, concerned for their safety, or too young to leave the house, online volunteering gives them the opportunity to volunteer from their own homes. 

In Online Volunteering, A Way to Reduce Health Inequalities: A Review Study, a recent study published in the Journal of Community Health Research, researchers said that online volunteering could “reduce the discrimination and health inequalities” among volunteers by involving “all people, including young people, the elderly, people with disabilities and disadvantaged groups and minorities.”

4. More People, More Places, More Opportunities

Online volunteering is an exciting way for volunteers to meet people from diverse places across the country. UPchieve, for example, allows volunteers to help high school students from all over the United States. During the 2019-2020 school year, we’ll be working with students from Brooklyn, Maine, and New Jersey, and as we grow we hope to expand all the way to the West Coast.

Online volunteering also allows volunteers to find a greater variety of opportunities than are available in their immediate area. In this way, volunteers can find the opportunities that are just right for them, and that make the kind of impact that they are most inspired by.

5. Save Time (And Money)

One of the main benefits of online volunteering, according to the study mentioned above, is “the maximum use of time, and the reduction of travel time.” Online volunteers save time, volunteering whenever they want without worrying about whether their schedule will accommodate the travel. They can also try out a number of different volunteer opportunities quickly, to figure out what’s right for them.

Additionally, online volunteers often end up saving hundreds of dollars a year in transportation fees, because they avoid spending money on gas or public transit. This lightens the load of those who want to give back, but can’t spare the resources that are often required to do so—especially helpful for high school students, college students and recent graduates who are strapped for cash.

Volunteering is difficult to incorporate into a working life, but thanks to online volunteering, it is becoming easier every day to find the right opportunity for you and jump right in. If you think online volunteering might be right for you, learn more about UPchieve’s online tutoring platform here!

Kyle Oleksiuk