Tag Archives: e-volunteering

My favorite virtual volunteering event originates in… Poland

ewolontariat logoThe 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…

Why tech companies, telecommunications companies, banks, and other multi-national corporations aren’t fighting each other to fund this event, I’ll never understand.

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:

Haters gonna hate

angryjayneI’ve been online since the early 1990s, and I have a bit of Internet fame because I’ve been researching and promoting virtual volunteering / e-volunteering / digital volunteering since the 90s as well. So, of course, I get hate mail.

You’re going to get negative comments online if you dare to post an opinion of any kind online. And my hate mail comes mostly because of blog posts I’ve made regarding companies that are selling community service hours for online activities that are NOT online volunteering. The companies are called Community Service Help, Inc., Community Service 101, Community Service Help, Logan Social Services, Court Ordered Community Service and the Terra Research Foundation. I’m sure there are more.

The latest hate mail is from “Kyle”, who listed his email as Jajalacrosse@yahoo.com. It’s representative of the kind I get regularly. On 2014/11/19 at 19:48, “Kyle” submitted this comment to this blog about these community service scammers:

You’re an idiot lady. Sorry you can’t relate to being given an unrealistic number of community service for a petty “crime” but someday you’ll understand. Keep your nose out of programs that you don’t find “suiting” for you.

Most of the negative comments I get are like this – they imply, or outright say, that I’m opposed to online volunteering. I’m not, of course – I’ve been promoting virtual volunteering since the 1990s. My latest gig to promote it was a trip to Warsaw, Poland this month. I wrote a book about virtual volunteering! I’m guessing that Community Service, Inc. tells people to write me, as a representative called me at home, outraged, when I published my first blog about his company, and the comments are always on the same blog – the company must also encourage writers to not read my blogs because, if they did, these folks would understand that I have been promoting online volunteering since the 1990s, and that most online volunteering is FREE and there is NO NEED to pay a company like Community Service, Inc. for it.

I’m sure these companies also really don’t want their prospective customers to read these comments by a person who paid for online community service from one of these companies and had it rejected by the court. Or to see all of the TV stations that have investigated these schemes (links to these stories in the blogs at the end of this blog).

Here’s free information on Finding Online Volunteering / Virtual Volunteering & Home-Based Volunteering with legitimate organizations.

Back in 2011, and again at least once since then, I wrote the Florida State Attorney General’s cyberfraud division, the Consumer Services Department of Miami-Dade County, numerous parole and probation associations, the Corporation for National Service and AL!VE to PLEASE investigate or, at least, take a stand regarding these scam companies – to date, they still have done nothing.

Also see:

Community Service Help Cons Another Person – a first-person account by someone who paid for online community service and had it rejected by the court.

Update on a virtual volunteering scam.

What online community service is – and is not – the very first blog I wrote exposing this company, back in January 2011, that resulted in the founder of the company calling me at home to beg me to take the blog down

Courts being fooled by online community service scams

Online community service company tries to seem legit.

Online volunteer scam goes global

Could your organization be deceived by GOTCHA media?

Social media: cutting both ways since the 1990s

Internet-mediated Volunteering in the EU (virtual volunteering)

paperAt long last, Internet-mediated Volunteering in the EU:  Its history, prevalence, and approaches and how it relates to employability and social inclusion, has been published. 

My research was for the ICT4EMPL Future Work project undertaken by the Information Society Unit of the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, and consumed most of my 2013.

As part of this project, I created a wiki of all of the various resources I used for my research, and it includes a list of online volunteering-related recruitment or matching web sties that are either focused on or allow for the recruitment of online volunteers from EU-countries, and a list of more than 60 organisations in EU countries that involve online volunteers in some way. The wiki offers many more resources as well, not all of which made it into the final paper.

I also blogged about what I learned from researching virtual volunteering in Europe, such as how much virtual volunteering is happening all over Europe, how Spain is, by far, the leader in Europe regarding virtual volunteering (particularly in Catalonia), how little the French seem to be doing with regard to virtual volunteering (tsk tsk), and that traditional volunteer centers in Europe are pretty much ignoring virtual volunteering – if it’s mentioned at all, it’s talked about in terms of being new and rare – which the research firmly established is not at all the case.

It would be amazing if this paper lead to significant change in the EU regarding volunteering: if volunteer centers – from the city level to the international level – fully acknowledged virtual volunteering at long last, and if detailed materials regarding how to create virtual volunteering tasks was written and published in all the various languages of Europe. It would be great if employers in Europe started valuing volunteer experience on people’s résumés, something they don’t seem to do currently. What would be particularly awesome would be the establishment of online discussion groups for managers of volunteers in European countries., something that, as far as I can tell, only exists for the UK (UKVPMs) and, to a degree, in Spain (E-Voluntas). People are hungry for virtual volunteering activities – particularly, but not limited to, people under 40 in the EU. I hear European-based NGOs and charities complaining about not being able to involve young people as volunteers – and then balk at the idea of creating online volunteering assignments. THIS HAS TO CHANGE.

Also, as a result of this and other research, I have a list of people based in Europe that I consider experts in virtual volunteering – in the U.K., in Spain (of course – mostly in Catalonia, in fact), in Germany, in Italy (met her after the research was turned in, unfortunately) and Poland, and if you are a researcher, journalist, or organization interested in virtual volunteering, and want to talk to an EU-based consultant, give me a shout and I’ll give you my list of contacts.

Also see this review of the paper by Ismael Peña-López.


greater good – online

I’ve become fascinated with The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, a research center devoted to the scientific understanding of individual happiness, compassion, strong social bonding, and altruistic behavior.

Some of their research involves online activities, and they frequently link to studies by others:

whether or not technology makes us lonely — Highlighting three studies that “paint a surprisingly complicated picture of the role of mobile devices in our social lives—and suggest steps we can take to make the most of technology.”

Are Some Social Ties Better Than Others? — Compares online networks with offline social networks, professional friends and others, linking to research to make its point.

How Your Teen Can Thrive Online — Compares two new books look at how the Internet is affecting teens—and what adults can do to help foster a healthy online life for kids.

Can Science Make Facebook More Compassionate? — Facebook is confronting cyberbullying and online conflict. Can a team of researchers help boost kindness among the site’s 900 million users?

Three Ways to Find Happiness on Facebook — According to some interesting research, social media arguably can make us feel more connected and less lonely.

They also link to research about volunteering.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if they would have a look at The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook, and start doing research on virtual volunteering?

Oh, and look, they involve volunteers! I wonder if any are online volunteers…