What is virtual volunteering? It’s work done by volunteers online, via computers, smartphones or other hand-held devices, and often from afar. More and more organizations around the world are engaging people who want to contribute their skills via the Internet. The service may be done virtually, but the volunteers are real!
In The LAST Virtual Volunteering Guidebook, international volunteerism consultants Jayne Cravens and Susan J. Ellis emphasize that online service should be integrated into an organization’s overall strategy for involving volunteers. They maintain that the basic principles of volunteer management should apply equally to volunteers working online or onsite. Whether you’re tech-savvy or still a newbie in cyberspace, this book will show you how to lead online volunteers successfully by:
- Overcoming resistance to online volunteer service and the myths surrounding it
- Designing virtual volunteering assignments, from micro-volunteering to long-term projects, from Web research to working directly with clients via the Internet
- Adding a virtual component to any volunteer’s service
- Interviewing and screening online volunteers
- Managing risk and protecting confidentiality in online interactions
- Creating online communities for volunteers
- Offering orientation and training via Internet tools
- Recruiting new volunteers successfully through the Web and social media
- Assuring accessibility and diversity among online volunteers
Cravens and Ellis first explored the realm of virtual volunteering in 1996 through Impact Online’s Virtual Volunteering Project. As a culmination of the project in 2000, they wrote the first Virtual Volunteering Guidebook to help leaders of volunteer projects apply the skills of real-world volunteer management to emerging cyberspace. After 14 years, this fully revised edition of the Guidebook includes today’s technology, language, and modern society’s online activities.
Cravens and Ellis fervently believe that future volunteer management practitioners will automatically incorporate online service into community engagement, making this book the LAST virtual volunteering guidebook that anyone has to write!
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Ellis and Cravens reunite to revise a classic. The Last Virtual Volunteering
Guidebook shows how online service has evolved into an essential element of all volunteer involvement. It takes a look back at more than a decade of change and brings you up to date on the latest insights and advice on navigating the ever-changing world of technology to successfully engage volunteers, online and off. VolunteerMatch doesn’t just recommend this guide; we use it.
—Greg Baldwin President, VolunteerMatch
What a great resource! This book can be accessed for specific content or as a complete learning experience. I chose to read it from start to finish, and am glad I did. Even after forty years of working in this field, the authors provided me with new ways to think about leadership challenges in the online world. We can all use more suggestions on how to use online resources to communicate with today’s volunteers, whether they are beside us or halfway around the world. This one definitely belongs on every volunteer management bookshelf.
— Kathleen Joy, Executive Director, Oregon Volunteers
If your project or organization relies on volunteers, go get this book! Its guidance is straightforward, practical, and applicable to the broadest range of volunteer challenges. The book goes beyond online interactions and provides winning strategies for working with all volunteers. I especially love the way questions of diversity and disability, often separated into “silos,” are fully integrated, creating vibrant volunteer involvement that will help your organization in ways you may not anticipate. This is a resource you will not want to be without!
— Sharron Rush, Executive Director, Knowbility
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The Challenges of Cyberspace (page 8-9)
In a virtual environment, some adjustments in style and approaches to volunteer engagement and support must be made to ensure success. For instance, volunteers working via home or work computers can feel isolated from the organization, or undervalued in comparison to onsite volunteers, and gradually lose their inspiration for volunteering online. This is no different from the needs of any volunteer working offsite or in the field. Those working with such volunteers must employ various means to keep these volunteers feeling engaged and as valued parts of the organization. There are tips throughout each chapter in this Guidebook on ways to do this.
Involving volunteers via the Internet comes naturally to some people. For others, there is a significant learning curve and need for a lot of guidance. Recognize now, if you do not already, that introducing or expanding virtual volunteering in an organization requires managing change—something that is rarely easy. This Guidebook will help you to introduce virtual volunteering in a way that helps staff see it as a benefit and a tool they want to embrace, not a burden and something to be afraid of.
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