As we near the end of 2020, the ongoing pandemic has infiltrated the lives of almost everyone on the planet. News stories continue to highlight disheartening statistics intermixed with a few glimmers of hope from the scientific community. Maintaining motivation and employee morale has become an even trickier task as we wade through unprecedented workplace overhauls and continuous change.
Businesses have quickly needed to transform their best practice under the current conditions. Luckily, collaboration from afar has never been easier with the rise of video calls and instant file-sharing services. In light of social distancing requirements, online volunteering work has taken center stage and shows no plans for falling by the wayside even if life returns to previous normalcy.
Virtual volunteering, e-volunteering, or online volunteering is the act of freely giving your time to benefit others. Unlike traditional in-person volunteering, online volunteering work is not limited by location as any person or organization with an intermittent internet connection can participate. Moreover, office hours or the length of a project are much more flexible when not confined by the parameters of a typical work day.
Corporations are facilitating meaningful opportunities for employees and understand the advantages that shared value can have on their competitiveness. Moreover, non-profits are increasingly seeing the importance and relative ease in harnessing volunteers’ skills in a virtual world. This has seen to be especially evident with regards to the youth in our society where their ingenuity during these trying times is an inspiration for young and old. Below we have included three youth-led initiatives that you should know about:
Divya Rath and her two younger sisters are a case in point. They are co-founders of the free virtual tutoring service Global Guru. Reported on at the Community for Employee Civic Engagement, not only was this organization started by teenagers, the virtual volunteers are aged from thirteen years and act as peer tutors. These young women saw a lack of educational accessibility with the high cost and demand for expert tutors and found ingenious ways to combat this issue while providing their volunteers with opportunities for future career advancement and experience. In the last year, Global Guru have established online tutoring connections both internationally and in the United States with their rapidly growing service.
Motivated by her trip to Iran, which resulted in translating information about climate change for her relatives, Sophia Kianni had a flash of inspiration. Fast forward and Climate Cardinals, a Points of Light honoree, is an international non-profit organization that translates climate information into a multitude of languages. Now boasting more than 6000 volunteers, 105 languages, and over 41 countries, this organization’s expansion is phenomenal. These figures are even more compelling when you consider that the average age of their volunteers is sixteen. The UN Environment Programme is currently a partner where Climate Cardinals works to translate their Youth for Nature manifesto.
Much of the volunteer work that 17-year old Angeline Ajit did before the pandemic was virtual, and she is continuing to motivate others to get involved with creating positive change. Angeline is the head of the committee for Project Sunshine at her high school, where together with her classmates, they raise money for dolls and activity kits that are assembled and given to local hospitals. Angeline wants to eventually work in medicine, and has found that her volunteer experience has fostered insight into the human aspects of her chosen profession.
Despite the doom and gloom that has plagued much of this year, there are stories of the positive impacts that have arisen due to the needs of society, the empathy of volunteers, and the dedication of organizations to adapt within the new parameters. During these difficult times, the innovation and drive of individuals and organizations can be an inspiration for devising and bolstering our collective consideration for civic engagement.