This is an archived version of the Virtual Volunteering Project web site from January 2001.
The materials on the web site were written or compiled by Jayne Cravens.
The Virtual Volunteering Project has been discontinued.
The Virtual Volunteering Project web site IS NO LONGER UPDATED.
Email addresses associated with the Virtual Volunteering Project are no longer valid.
For any URL that no longer works, type the URL into archive.org
.
For new materials regarding online volunteering, see
Jayne Cravens' web site (the section on volunteerism-related resources).
 
 
 
 
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working with technical assistance volunteers

A technical assistance volunteer is a person who provides support to staff members or other volunteers (such as help with building a web site or researching program information) rather than an organization's clients (such as mentoring young people).

Volunteers that provide technical assistance are usually easier to manage than volunteers who work with clients on an organization's behalf. Staff members work directly with such volunteers and oversee their activities directly, and these volunteers do not work with anyone "outside" of the organization. Usually, such volunteers do not undergo the rigorous screening of volunteers who work with clients (criminal background checks), so it's easier for an organization to involve technical assistance volunteers.

Involving technical assistance volunteers virtually is an excellent place to start if you are looking to introduce virtual volunteering to your organization (see Implementing a virtual volunteering pilot project for more information).

Technical assistance volunteers can be involved via the Internet to help an organization:

  • conducting online research to find information to use in a organization's upcoming grant proposal or newsletter, or to find out about a particular government program that is affecting an organization's clients.

  • answering an agency's questions regarding human resource or management issues

  • designing an agency's newsletter or brochure, or copy editing a publication or proposal

  • translating a document into or from another language

  • preparing information for a World Wide Web site

  • write the first draft or part of a grant proposal

  • register an organization's World Wide Web home page and other appropriate pages with Web search engines

BEFORE you start looking for such volunteers

  • Make sure your organization is ready to involve volunteers virtually. The VV Project has an online evaluation to help you self-evaluate your agency's readiness for virtual volunteering.

  • Make sure that everyone at your organization understands the concept of virtual volunteering and has bought into the idea: they are all supportive of the agency's efforts to find and involve such people. Also encourage everyone to explore ways to utilize such off-site volunteers. The VV Project has information to help you lay the groundwork for a virtual volunteering program.

  • Everyone who will work with volunteers virtually should already know the do's and don'ts of working with traditional volunteers. If a person has never worked with volunteers before, it's not a good idea to start them out with working with off-site volunteers.

  • Consider how you will screen such volunteers. Your screening process should be similar to the one you use for on-site volunteers. Discuss the person's motivation for and interest in volunteering in general as well as volunteering for your organization, how the person heard about the agency, what is the person's availability, the person's strengths, desires, and apprehensions regarding volunteering, etc. You may require them to provide you with professional references as well.

    Even though they will be working via email (and, perhaps, fax), you may want to talk to them over the phone before accepting them as a volunteer and giving them a volunteer assignment. Some organizations ask for a list of references from volunteers who want to work remotely via their home or work computers. Others require such potential volunteers to attend one on-site, face-to-face orientation.

    For more information, see orienting and evaluating volunteers for virtual assignments.

If you believe your organization is ready to involve such volunteers, review these tips on: Also see this TechSoup resource for recruiting and involving volunteers for computer/technology-related assistance (when you get to this link, click on the link to "volunteers").

 
This information on virtual volunteering is geared to organizations who already understand the basics of volunteer management, and how to work with volunteers effectively in traditional, face-to-face settings. The Impact Online site does not have information to teach the fundamentals of volunteer management. Our list of Other Online Resources for Volunteer Managers has links to sites that provide information on the basics of volunteer management.

The majority of organizations currently using volunteers via the Internet are using technical assistance volunteers. The VV Project has already gathered information from several such organizations regarding how they found such volunteers, and how they managed them. Impact Online and the VV Project also have worked with dozens of such volunteers for our own program activities. The information on this Web site is based on these firsthand experiences, as well as feedback from other organizations.


 
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If you find this or any other Virtual Volunteering Project information helpful, or would like to add information based on your own experience, please contact us.

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This is an archived version of the Virtual Volunteering Project web site from January 2001.
The materials on the web site were written or compiled by Jayne Cravens.
The Virtual Volunteering Project has been discontinued.
The Virtual Volunteering Project web site IS NO LONGER UPDATED.
Email addresses associated with the Virtual Volunteering Project are no longer valid.
For any URL that no longer works, type the URL into archive.org
.
For new materials regarding online volunteering, see
Jayne Cravens' web site (the section on volunteerism-related resources).
 

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