The Discover E-Volunteering competition by E-Wolontariat (E-Volunteering Poland) is the best showcase of new virtual volunteering initiatives on the planet. I’m a HUGE fan of this event – and governments and corporations in Europe should be too. Here’s why:
- this is the first and only competition of its kind in the world. And it started in Europe – not the USA. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to scoop the USA re: something tech-related?
- by making this a competition, the event ends up drawing out and then showcasing some of the most innovative initiatives in Europe that are blending technology with helping people, the environment, and other causes.
- the competition grows every year, in terms of participants, applications and attention from both traditional and non-traditional media.
- just about any person – people who are unemployed, people working at corporations, young people, retired people – can become online volunteers with many of the initiatives showcased in this competition. So virtually anyone can be a part of this event in some way.
- the competition doesn’t just benefit the “winners”; E-Wolontariat shares much of what it learns from ALL applicants. via its web site and via its trainings, so that ANY NGO can benefit. That means, with more widespread promotion of the event, the event could build capacities at NGOs not just in Europe but worldwide, allowing those NGOs to involve even more volunteers.
- governments and others are talking about encouraging young people to volunteer, how its so important, to help young people build skills for the workplace, to increase their civic engagement, to cultivate empathy and caring, and more. But there’s not much action to back up that talk. This event is actually helping to expand options for those young people to volunteer.
- by helping organizations expand their involvement of online volunteers, this event is very likely helping them to expand their involvement of ALL volunteers, including traditional onsite volunteers, by helping them to improve recruitment and support of all volunteers.
- by helping organizations expand their involvement of volunteers, this event is helping more people, including unemployed people and people who are often socially-excluded (the unemployed, immigrants, the disabled, etc.) to become better connected to society. And we keep hearing that we need to increase opportunities for socially-excluded people to connect with society…
As I said in my last blog, there are so many corporate folks chastising nonprofits and NGOs, saying mission-based initiatives need to be more innovative, saying they need to embrace the latest network technologies and revolutionary management styles and on and on. Yet these same corporations demanding nonprofit innovation aren’t funding virtual volunteering-related initiatives. The Discover E-Volunteering competition would be a GREAT one to start with!
And media, you should be covering not only this competition, and not only the individual applicants to this event, but also all sorts of great virtual volunteering activities happening in the world.
More info about virtual volunteering, a widespread practice that’s more than 35 years old: