Virtual Volunteering Part Three: 8 Amazing Virtual Volunteer Opportunities for Groups, Offices and Teams
Volunteering as a team:
- Is a chance to get to know and appreciate each other on another level. This has ripple effects as it promotes collaboration in the workplace.
- Gives employees a fresh perspective on positive and productive interaction. It brings teams together on an emotional and personal level.
- Builds and reveals skills you may not even realize your team members have!
- Promotes good citizenship. There’s only one Earth and we are its stewards. What future do you want to build? What responsibility is your organization/group/team taking to be responsible members of your community?
- Inspiring a culture of giving back engages employees, builds employee passion by supporting a sense of purpose, elevates workplace morale
- Provides an amazing opportunity to develop leadership skills, build problem-solving skills and teaches participants how to be flexible.
There are a tremendous amount of opportunities to volunteer with a group – from spending a day helping build a home through your local Habitat for Humanity, to working a shift at the local food bank or soup kitchen, to doing an in-house drive collecting food/clothes/school supplies for local charities, to participating in local fundraising events like a paint-and-sip. But what if you want to do something a little more unique? Or that can be done in the office? Or that lasts over a longer period of time?
Here are 8 unique and amazing ideas for virtual team volunteering:
IDEA 1: KIVA: Build a financially inclusive world where people have the power to improve their lives
Kiva.org is a crowdfunding loan site that unlocks capital for the underserved by addressing underlying barriers to financial access. For as little as $25 you become part of the solution and make a meaningful difference in someone’s life. 100% of every dollar you lend goes to funding loans and it is a loan, not a donation.
Why is this great for teams/groups? It’s easy to build this out for a group and to have it be a monthly or quarterly group activity. The model is simple: gather your volunteers, decide how much to lend, review projects as a group and choose the one the group wants to back, fund a loan, follow the progress, get repaid, fund another project. Along the way the group can have meaningful discussions about what to fund, why, how to fund, how they can have the most impact, etc.
There are hundreds of different projects to fund in more than 80 countries, on 5 continents and there’s no minimum dollar amount to jump in. Once you choose a project you’ll learn all the details about it, including the story on the individual requesting the funding and why it’s important to them. You can receive updates on project progress and follow its success.
Check out current projects and learn more at: https://www.kiva.org/
IDEA 2: MicroMentor: Start a conversation, support a start-up nonprofit or entrepreneur, and grow a business
MicroMentor.org is a free, easy-to-use social network that allows entrepreneurs and volunteer business mentors to connect, solve problems, and grow businesses together. The platform offers skills-based volunteering for teams/groups to share their specific areas of expertise with start-ups, small businesses, and non-profits in need of guidance across 92 countries and in all 50 US States. Your program can be customized to align with specific pillars of interest, investment focus, organizational culture, etc., whether that’s promoting gender equality, supporting economic growth in developing countries, manufacturing recyclable goods and more. You can choose from short-term or long-term mentoring.
Their unique online mentoring platform is plug and play and easy to scale as it can be used across many departments and office locations and be custom-branded with your logo, language, fonts, etc. Plus, MicroMentor offers a series of reports to track the efficacy of your engagement.
Learn more at: https://www.micromentor.org/
IDEA 3: Only Make Believe: Host a Costume Collective and decorate hats and necklaces which will be used to entertain sick children in hospitals
Only Make Believe brings professional actors into hospital wards to entertain children with specially designed plays designed to encourage participation.
The plays are performed against simple backdrops and the actors bring a large trunk full of handmade costumes and props used by both the actors and the children.
The painted trunks, props and costumes remain as permanent gifts to the hospitals to be enjoyed over and over again. There is a never-ending need for supplies of decorated hats and necklaces to be used in these plays and to donate to the hospitals.
Your group/office/company can hold a “Costume Collective” event and create hats and necklaces for the organization to use in the hospitals and then leave for the children to enjoy. Just contact Cary Simpson (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss supplies (they want all donations to use the same time-tested and field-approved materials the organization uses). Cary will also give you plenty of tips and useful tricks. Then pick up the materials, host your event, and let your imagination go as you create! From Minions and superheroes to unicorns and pandas, you create hats that sick children will LOVE. Once you’re done creating, simply ship the finished pieces to either the Orlando or the NYC chapter for distribution.
Check out more information, including overviews of the various current kid-friendly plays, at their site:
IDEA 4: Sole Hope: Party with a Purpose while helping make shoes to improve health in Uganda
No special sewing or cobbler skills required – this craft allows participants to create fabric shoes to protect the feet of the poor in Uganda – offering healthier lives and freedom of foot-related diseases.
Just purchase a Shoe Party Kit ($115 covers supplies for 10 pairs of shoes and you can up the amount of shoe supplies and/or kits from there). It takes about 20 minutes to properly trace, cut and pin together the first pair. Participants typically get a little faster after the first ones. Once the shoes are prepared, ship them back to the organization with the enclosed label (return shipping is responsibility of host).
You can check out stories and see videos on their website as well. These are great to share during your event.
You can change lives, two feet at a time, by checking out www.solehope.org
IDEA 5: Yoga Gives Back: Host a Yoga Class to change the lives of the poorest women in India
Yoga Gives Back provides micro loans and education funds to empower the poorest women and children in India. For the cost of one class, you can change a life. Here’s how it works with your organization/group:
Reach out to a local yoga studio and ask them to participate by donating one class for the cause. You can use their studio or hold it at your office or a local park. Pick the date and time that works for your group and the instructor. Decide on a per person fee to participate. Use the flyer template on the Yoga Gives Back website to create flyers to distribute and to post on social media, etc. Participants can either register through a contact in your organization/group or through the yoga studio, depending on what you’ve decided. All registration fees become donations for the charity. Donations are used to fund education and educational materials for mothers and children, and become micro loans for female entrepreneurs starting up local businesses (like pottery). Funds also support local orphanages.
Yoga Gives Back will add your event to their “Events Calendar” and post your flyer on their social media sites as well. After the event you can upload photos as well.
See the details and read more about the program here: https://yogagivesback.org/host-a-yoga-class-or-event/
IDEA 6: Catch-A-Fire: Use your professional skills to build a world of good by helping small nonprofits increase their capacity and achieve their mission
Catchafire drives positive world change through the giving of time and talent by matching professionals who want to donate time and talent with nonprofits who need those skills.
Their web-based technology enables nonprofits to create well-structured, compelling projects that connect with volunteers who have the expertise they need to succeed. Sign up to help from 1 hour to several weeks. There are hundreds of opportunities to choose from… go local or global.
Why not have your team/group/office use their expertise to drive positive change?
Contact https://www.catchafire.org/ to learn more
IDEA 7: Virtual Strides: Exercise for a Cause and Run a Virtual 5k/10K for Charity
Virtual Strides was founded and run by a small group of running enthusiasts on a mission to help others while having fun exercising.
It works like this:
1. Choose from dozens of races supporting various causes;
2. Sign up on line (fees vary by race and by available swag)
3. Run/walk/job your race anytime, anywhere.
4. Upload your results and your medal (and swag) will be mailed to you.
This activity is perfect for groups of any size and age. Simply choose a race as a group and register individually or together. Set a time and complete the race. It’s even great for virtual teams, or if you have employees spread out across multiple locations. Why not add it as a fun competition to family reunion weekends? Have your child’s school or activity group walk a race. Maybe create a friendly competition among departments or offices. You could choose to add a larger donation amount and fundraise ahead of time with an in-office bake sale, etc.
Check out their current medal and charity list at: www.virtualstrides.com
IDEA 8: Twisting the Traditional: Think outside the box for virtual ways to volunteer you’re your favorite organizations
Love Habitat For Humanity but need to do something remote and that doesn’t include physical labor? Are you passionate about animals but can’t get to a shelter to volunteer with your group? Want to tie in helping the homeless to a work, conference or meeting agenda so need something that can be portable?
Pick any charity/cause you are passionate about and it’s possible to come up with ways to help out from afar. For example:
- Get together and create first aid kits (band-aids, Neosporin, Q-Tips, etc.) to give to new Habitat For Humanity homeowners. This is a great activity for children as they can cover and decorate shoe boxes to hold all the items, and then can write a congratulations note to slip inside the box.
- Hold a Peta Party collecting pet food and supplies for your local animal shelter. Most shelters have a “wish list” or “most needed” list on their website and all shelters will love to receive much-needed supply donations.
- Create “go bags” for the homeless by sorting and bagging much-needed essentials in plastic zip-lock bags. Donate the bags to local shelters and soup kitchens. Go-bags can include emergency items such as travel-sized toothpaste, toothbrush, chapstick, clean socks (#1 most needed item), a granola bar or single-serve snack bag of pretzels, wet-wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves in the winter, etc. Add a heart-felt note to each back to wish blessings on the recipients. You can even add something small and fun for the season – like a small fake flower for spring, a packet handwarmer for winter, a colorful bandana for summer, etc. I’ve had teens in high schools create string bracelets to add to the bags. The recipients love knowing people are thinking about them.
- Sponsor a movie night at a local shelter. Most shelters have “living rooms” or central social areas for clients to gather and games and movies are not often able to be included in tight budgets. Why not gather your group together and sponsor a movie and game night by providing board games, a few movies, and snacks such as bags of popcorn and soda? You’ll need to reach out to your community’s local shelter to check on movie rules (type/genre, DVD/etc.) and to arrange drop off. Sometimes your team can join in the fun at the site, sometimes that’s not possible, but in any case, the residents/clients LOVE having an opportunity to participate in social activities.
No matter where your heart leads you when it comes to favorite causes you can come up with fantastic ways to get groups of any size and age involved in giving back! It just takes a little imagination and a tiny bit of coordination! Hopefully you’ll try out some of these super-simple activities and have fun with your group while helping others.
Do you have other ideas to share with others? Post them in the comments below!
Thank you for joining my journey!