Question:

What role can online volunteers play?

Online Volunteers do not and Cannot Replace In-Person Volunteers

For organizations working in or focused on developing countries, online volunteers present a tremendous and much-needed resource. Online volunteers have skills and expertise that are valuable to nonprofits and NGOs and that might not be in very great or accessible supply in the nonprofits' or NGOs' local communities. A base of online volunteers helps organizations stretch their onsite resources, enabling to serve more clients. Online Volunteers also don't require physical accommodations, and don't make any kind of negative physical impact on the often fragile environments they are serving virtually. In addition to those benefits for the recipient organization:

Online volunteering is an attractive option to potential volunteers, as well.
Online volunteers learn about other countries and issues that developing world faces. Online volunteering allows people to take on roles and responsibilities that might be wholly different than roles and responsibilities in the rest of their lives, giving them an opportunity to grow their skills and spread their wings. In many cases, online volunteering may enable an expatriate to reconnect with her homeland and contribute to a society that means a lot to her.

While online volunteering won't make all the challenges of nonprofit work go away, it is another exciting avenue through which people from all walks of life can get involved and connect with each other.

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Christina Chan