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Virtual Volunteering: Using Your Skills to Create a Better World

by Diana Chaplin
freelancing, money & life

Virtual Volunteering Using Your Skills to Create a Better World

Near the end of my first year as a freelancer, I picked up Stephen Covey’s (author of the legendary 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) lesser-known book, Primary Greatness, in which he asked three questions I’ve heard asked in a variety of ways before and thought I had the answers to.

But the way HE asked them made me stop and think, like staring blankly at the wall and just… thinking, kind of think. Here’s how he phrased it:

What does the world need?

What am I good at?

How can I best do what I like to do and meet real needs?

I don’t know where this might take you, but for me it lead to the realization that my skills were being applied towards doing work that I enjoyed and earning an income, but not necessarily connecting to what I thought the WORLD needs.

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Just when I thought I was starting to get a handle on how to be a successful freelancer, here came Stephen telling me I was thinking too small and frittering away my time when there are big challenges that need solving.

Here’s what I wrote down (of course your answers would be different):

The world needs environmental restoration, sustainability, and harmony among people and the planet.

I am good at content strategy, copywriting, graphics, photography, and brand identity.

So… (and this was my A-ha! Moment) I want to help environmental nonprofits spread their message more effectively.

I mostly work with entrepreneurs and businesses, so this came as a surprise, but I knew I was on to something because my heart was pumping and my intuition was saying YESSSSS!

Regardless of your unique skills, there’s probably a way to use those skills to create more good in the world.

• Photographers can document research projects or tell stories through images.

• Filmmakers can help create stellar crowdsourcing videos to help philanthropic startups get on their feet.

• Artists can create or help facilitate creative ways to engage local or virtual communities in support of a particular cause.

• Social media managers or marketing experts can help struggling non-profits communicate their objectives and engage their audience.

• Designers and developers can make attractive virtual homes for projects hoping to gain visibility.

What do YOU think the world needs? What are you good at? How can you do more of what the world needs?

virtual volunteering

In the digital age, volunteering is no longer exclusive to physical presence.

Non-profits often can’t afford to pay for the skills you have, but they’d sure be more effective if they had someone like you working with them anyway!

Yes, I’m suggesting that you work for free.

But it’s work in the service of something you feel deeply passionate about and feel is needed in the world. You’re still getting something valuable in return. It takes the idea of “work” to a place of “purpose” in a practical way.

Here are 5 reasons why you should give virtual volunteering a try and a few ways you can find the right opportunities:

1. You can determine your availability.

Countless organizations would be thrilled to have your creative talents, and as a volunteer you can clearly state what your bandwidth is. Let’s say it’s 2 hours a week, or a few hours a month, you can carve our that little bit of time, can’t you? While your paid work needs to take priority if you’re on a budget, it doesn’t mean you can’t also do something beneficial for a cause you believe in on the side.

2. Magic happens when your passion and global needs unite.

So many of us feel the injustice happening all around us, and have ideas for ways to make things better, but we live in a bubble and do little to actually get involved in creating change. Imagine if the good guys, those entities actually devoted to on-the-ground initiatives, had thousands more smart and creative people contributing with their time, imagination, and action.

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Could we diminish inequality? Could we shift to a more holistic education system? Could we reduce pollution or plant more trees? These things won’t happen unless we add our skills and voices to bring them to light.

3. Enhance your portfolio.

By doing work you’re truly passionate about and including it in your portfolio, you’re showing that THIS is what you’re all about, THIS is what you want to do more of in a paid capacity. If you’re just starting your career in the particular work you’re doing, that’s an authentic way to build your portfolio and grow your experience – no one has to know you did that great work for free unless you say so.

4. You never know where this could lead.

Getting more involved in the things your heart is called to will lead to new relationships, unexpected opportunities, friendships, creative growth and challenge, and other potential awesomeness. By stating the intention that you care about this, you’re attracting more things like that to come to you – which might just lead to financial abundance down the line.

5. You’ll be doing something rather than watching from the sidelines.

If you haven’t noticed, the world is in disarray. The planet is in trouble, there is suffering and corruption, species are going extinct every day, leadership is lacking in vision, reasonable progress is delayed at every turn, consumerism is destroying our basic humanity. There is work to do! Do you really want to look back at your life and wonder why you didn’t do anything to help?

Doing something, even if it’s a small contribution in time from the comfort of your laptop, will remind you that we’re all in this together and that you acted in alignment with your values.

For me, this realization lead to volunteering with a local nonprofit called Remineralize The Earth, which supports research, education, and initiatives in the use of rock dust as a way to enrich and replenish the soil for a more wholesome and abundant natural food system.

How did I find them? I Googled non-profits in my local area, reached out to see if they needed my services, and then met personally with the founder to discuss how I can best support them. Voila! They benefit from my expertise and I can add nonprofit work to my resume.

Check out these resources for finding more virtual volunteering opportunities:

Online Volunteering

Idealist

Volunteer Match

Do Something

There is so much you can do to apply your skills and talents towards doing some much-needed good in the world, all while growing your experience and having the satisfaction of walking your talk when it comes to your ideals.

What do think the world needs? What are you good at?

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Diana Chaplin

Diana Chaplin is a freelance content strategist, copywriter, and brand developer for mission-driven creatives. She’s also a laid-back, nature-loving, photographing and craft-making mama of two, a writer at heart, and cofounder/director of a coworking space in her new hometown in western Massachusetts. Just for fun, she recently launched a creativity blog to document inspiration, experiments, and playing with words and images. Reach out anytime, she likes making friends ☺