Virtual volunteering has been around for a long time, but it’s a fast-growing business that has grown exponentially in recent years.
And it’s also growing in popularity.
The number of people using virtual volunteering is soaring in many countries.
In some, such as the U.S., where the UBS Global Virtual Volunteers program is in place, people are opting to make the switch to volunteer by doing their own things online.
Others, like Germany, are going even further by offering their residents a virtual assistant who can help them with their volunteer projects.
But in the U of A, it’s not just residents who are taking advantage of virtual volunteering.
“It’s quite easy to find an empty room in your house,” said Joanna Bostick, director of communications at the UB’s School of Management.
“We’ve had people who have used it for their children’s homework, for their projects.”
Bostick said virtual volunteering has become a growing trend in recent times, which is partly thanks to the increasing popularity of technology such as Skype and Google Hangouts.
And virtual volunteering can help meet people’s social needs, as well.
“A lot of the people who are coming to us have not had the opportunity to use a traditional volunteer opportunity,” Bostack said.
“The other side of that is, you can get people who might have a social anxiety disorder, or they might be shy or have difficulty communicating.
It’s really an open-ended experience, and it’s an opportunity for them to interact with other people who can provide support.”
The UB is using the platform to offer virtual assistants to people living in different parts of the country.
“Virtual assistants can really help people who may be struggling with their personal lives, or their professional lives, to meet with other friends or with family members,” Bortick said.
“They can help people to meet in a more comfortable environment.”
To find a virtual volunteer, UB residents can sign up online or at the office.
Bostik said people can also use the service at the library or library branch of their university, or any public space.
If you have a specific volunteer project you’d like to do, Bosticks recommends contacting the office first, but she also recommends taking advantage.
“People who are interested in virtual volunteering have access to the virtual assistant, and they can see what their needs are,” Bostic said.
So what are the benefits of virtual volunteer work?
Bostak said virtual volunteers can also work on different kinds of projects.
“I think virtual volunteering provides people with a sense of community and it can provide an outlet for them, to make new friends, and to share their stories and their experiences,” she said.
Virtual volunteering is also a great way to meet people in a different way.
“You can come to an event, and be able to have a conversation and you can share in a very casual and informal way what you’re doing, or what your goals are, and how you feel,” she explained.
“And people will see it as something they can relate to, and really get engaged with.
So it’s great for connecting with people and making new friends.”
To learn more about virtual volunteering, visit UB.ca.