It’s been more than two years since Covid-19 became a part of our lives and transformed how many of us live and work, and what we think is possible. In early 2020, “virtual volunteering” was something that had barely attracted any public attention.
At the start of the pandemic, we wrote a virtual volunteering blog suggesting ways that employers could repurpose their volunteer schemes to continue doing good during lockdown and highlighting causes that could use the support of people confined to their homes.
And we’ve decided to revisit that territory now, because one good thing that came out of the tragedy of Covid is the realisation that there are many, many things that can be done just as well online as in person – and some that can be done even better.
Plus, in 2022 there are new challenges to be faced which virtual volunteers can help to alleviate, such as the cost of living crisis and the humanitarian disaster in Ukraine.
So here is our updated list of great causes that CSR and volunteering managers can engage their teams with.
As always, make sure you do your own due diligence on any of the organisations below before recommending them to your employees.
The most valuable contribution that people and businesses in the UK can make to help the situation in Ukraine is to raise money to support the major aid NGOs that have a strong presence in the country already.
- Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Appeal
- Save The Children
- British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal
- UNICEF Ukraine Appeal
Of course, those with specialised skills may prefer to contribute in other ways:
- Law firm DLA Piper is running a free service providing immigration advice for people fleeing Ukraine called Ukraine Advice Project UK. They’re calling for qualified immigration advisers to volunteer their help
- Ukrainian language speakers can offer their skills to those in need through Charity Translators or Translators Without Borders
Cost of Living Crisis
The number of people using food banks at the end of 2021-2022 was 2,173,158 – an increase of 81% in the previous five years. With the inflation rate for the year ending April 2022 standing at 9%, that number is certain to rise as price increases bite into households’ purchasing power.
The Trussell Trust organises a national network of food banks, supported by more than 28,000 volunteers. Find your local food bank and how you can help through their website.
Energy prices are also approaching crisis point.
National Energy Action campaigns to eliminate fuel poverty, and they are always on the lookout for potential charity trustees and skilled volunteers to work with their partner organisations.
Befriending and Fighting Loneliness
In the aftermath of Covid-19, social isolation is a bigger problem than ever. Older people, people with disabilities, and those with mental health problems are especially vulnerable, and many businesses are choosing to offer their voluntary efforts to those in need in their immediate communities.
- Shout is a confidential text service that provides an outlet for people without anyone else to talk to. Their volunteers work to help people in distress to a calmer moment, empowering them to take their next steps towards feeling better and pointing them towards available services
- Age UK runs volunteer-led telephone befriending services across the country for older people – matching over-60s with local volunteers for weekly chats
- Sense has found that nearly two-third of disabled people in the UK are chronically lonely. It runs a Virtual Buddying scheme to connect their clients with volunteers who have similar interests for weekly video calls
Conservation and Sustainability
Last year’s COP26 conference challenged business to do far more to help achieve Net Zero carbon emissions – and many companies are rising to that challenge, through their Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and Employer Supported Volunteering.
Here are just some of the sustainability initiatives needing virtual volunteers:
- Wild Nature Institute needs online researchers to analyse photos of giraffes caught on wildlife camera as part of a study into their growth and survival
- eBird is another large-scale online biodiversity research project, collecting observations from birdwatchers around the world
- 1% For The Planet has a network of remote volunteering opportunities across a huge range of environmental and sustainability-related causes
We’ve already mentioned a few causes that need skilled volunteers, but there are many more. Skills-based volunteering helps provide access to expertise that might otherwise be unavailable to charity groups, while giving your staff opportunities to broaden their experience.
- Designers and photographers – F Cancer compiles opportunities for creative types to lend their assistance to cancer charities
- Consultants and board members – Big Alliance helps pair experienced professionals with community organisations in London in need of support
- IT and digital professionals – Energise Resources is a network that promotes volunteering opportunities for people with these skills with charitable causes
- For all these and more – Catchafire is a comprehensive network for bringing skilled volunteers together with organisations who need them
In-person volunteering may be making its way back, but that’s no reason to stop looking at virtual opportunities. Indeed, it’s not an either/or situation: virtual volunteering allows more people to offer their support to more causes, with fewer limitations from geography or time availability.
If you run an employer supported volunteering programme, or if you’re interested in setting one up, Thrive is your ideal partner. Whether your priority is boosting participation, streamlining the management of an existing program, or uncovering your community impact, our Volunteering Module brings maturity, dynamism and efficiency to your employee volunteering activities.
Thrive’s software gives you your own-branded volunteering portal bespoke to your company.
Remove the admin hassle for employees by letting them quickly search opportunities and sign-up immediately. Get in touch to find out more!