Volunteer Your Time Online

Ways Volunteering Can Lead to More Permanent, Paying Work

If things aren’t going well in your search for a telecommuting position, try taking a step back and look for volunteer opportunities so that you can be active online in other meaningful ways. While it may appear totally unselfish of you at first glance, it can also provide benefits down the road. Call it good karma, or networking, or whatever you wish to call it… but volunteering can be a good way to get you busy online and lead to future work that you actually get paid to do.

Here are some indirect ways it can help you find more permanent, paying work:

1. Pad your Resume.
One of the issues with finding work at home is that often companies are looking for a resume of what you’ve done in the past. Just like those extracurricular activities look good on a college application or volunteer work can boost a traditional resume, volunteering online can show a perspective employer that you’re equipped and responsible enough to contribute in an online environment.

2. Remain Active and Hone Your Skills.
Part of the heart-ache of looking for work online is the constant search with little or no actual relevant activity. Volunteering your time and skill is a good way to get a taste of what working at home is actually like and a great way to hone your skills.

3. Make Connections.
Just like in the real world, you never know which connections might help you in the future. Think about how you got the job you have now or how you met your spouse. It’s likely that someone knew someone who knew someone. Sometimes the world can be a small place and who knows, maybe a connection you make with volunteer work online can provide a leg-up in the search for more permanent, paying work.

Places to Volunteer Some Time

1. ReadThisToMe.org
I assume since you’re reading this posting that you have a computer with an Internet connection and that you can read. If you also have Adobe Acrobat Reader – which can be downloaded for free here – and are able to make free long-distance calls… you may be interested in this volunteer opportunity.

Established by Savetz Publishing, this site uses volunteer readers to offer a free reading service for the blind. You simply fill out the online application and get busy reading whenever you’re able to spare some time.

2. UN Volunteers
The United Nations Online Volunteering Service connects volunteers with opportunities online in a myriad of activities. Some are technical expertise and tools, some are project support or resources management. Host organizations are screened and matches are made between the assignments database and the volunteers database.

3. Wikepedia
Surely if you’ve been online for anytime at all, you’re familiar with Wikipedia, the free, collaborative, online encyclopedia. Launched circa 2001, Wikipedia depends on volunteers for every last bit of its content.

While it’s certainly not something that you’ll be paid for, it is a great way to get involved online and provide a contribution to the world’s collective knowledge. According to Wikipedia, they have around 75,000 active contributors to date. Sign up is free to anyone and anyone who signs up can edit content. The trick is to learn the rules and participate for the good of the content. Start by visiting the Wikipedia Introduction page and work your way through to learn how to participate. Then sign up, log in and begin participating whenever you see pages on the site that you feel can be improved (whether by content, grammar, formatting, etc.).

Also helpful … Wikimedia (the foundation) posts volunteer opportunities. They’re currently in need of Clerical and Textbook cataloguers/librarian support. And Wikimedia also has job openings.

To find other volunteer opportunities – try searching the phrase “virtual volunteer” on any search engine and then explore the possibilities. But be smart… just like when you’re looking for paying work, volunteering should never COST YOU money!

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