This is an archived version of the Virtual Volunteering Project web site from January 2001.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The Virtual Volunteering Project web site IS NO LONGER UPDATED.
Email addresses associated with the Virtual Volunteering Project are no longer valid.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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implementing a
virtual volunteering
pilot program

Let's emphasize this again: our information on virtual volunteering is geared to organizations who already understand how to work with volunteers effectively in traditional, face-to-face settings. Basic knowledge and experience of working with volunteers is critical to your being able to successfully involve volunteers virtually.

Once your organization is ready for virtual volunteering and you've set the internal groundwork and engaged in first steps, you are ready to look into implementation of a virtual volunteering program. We suggest you start small, with a virtual volunteering pilot project.

Most organizations who involve volunteers virtually started one of two ways:

  • Volunteers worked virtually to assist staff or other volunteers
    Who on staff already involves volunteers in their work? Who on staff has regular access to the Internet and feels the most at ease communicating via email and surfing the Web? Who on staff is in need of research (such as statistics in support of a program, or research for potential grants?)? Who on staff can identify assignments that could be completed mostly off-site for a volunteer, such as designing a brochure or Web pages? These staff members are good candidates to work with volunteers virtually.

    Which volunteers are already engaged in projects they might be able to do from home or work computers, such as research or designing a publication? How "wired" are these volunteers? (do they have regular email/Internet access)? Would they be enthusiastic about doing some of their volunteer services in a virtual setting?

    The Virtual Volunteering Project has gathered and posted information on our Web site from several such organizations regarding how they found technical assistance volunteers, and how they managed them. In addition, we have information to help volunteers work effectively online.

    Again, make sure you have fully explored their fears and expectations of such a program (see Laying the Groundwork for a Virtual Volunteering Program).

    Implementation of a virtual volunteering program is a step-by-step process. It may not be necessary to follow all the steps outlined here, and the order of the steps at your organization may vary. But we have used a variety of resources and first-hand experiences to show what exactly implementing such a program can entail.

  • Creating an online component of a phone or face-to-face support group
    You already have these volunteers, you already screen them and manage them. Providing them an online way for them to communicate, in addition to their phone or face-to-face communications, allows you to institute virtual volunteering by simply letting the volunteers exchange e-mail addresses or participate in an online chat room.

    However, it's imperative that the staff person in charge of this program support the idea, and add information to the regular evaluation of this program to find out how many participants use this e-mail option.

    The Virtual Volunteering Project Web site features information on how to faciliate and setup such online discussion groups. We also provide detailed information about how to ensure safety for participants.

View Identifying and Creating Assignments for Online Volunteers for more information and other ideas.

 

Before you get started: At the end of the pilot period, assess the results and determine improvements, based on the feedback from these surveys and meetings with appropriate staff. You will want to be able to answer these questions: Once you determine the effectiveness of your pilot program and address concerns and obstacles to its success, you can explore continuing the program, or expanding the program into new areas.

You can read more information about this on our index of resources to set up and manage a virtual volunteering program.

Also, once you complete a virtual volunteering pilot project, we encourage you to provide us with feedback about your program using our own online survey.

If you feel your organization is ready to start a virtual volunteering project and you would like our Project Team's direct assistance and advice in your program, review our collaboration guidelines.


If you use this material to help your organization, please let us know!

Portions of the information on this page are based on From the Top Down: The Executive Role in Volunteer Program Success, a book by Susan Ellis, one of the Virtual Volunteering Project advisors.

Some information on this page are also based on:

Links to other telecommuting resources can help you learn more about managing and working virtually.


 
Information for those who wish to
quote from, copy and/or distribute the information on this Web site

 
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.

If you do use Virtual Volunteering Project materials in your own workshop or trainings, or republish materials in your own publications, please let us know, so that we can track how this information is disseminated.  

Copyright © 1999 - 2000 The University of Texas at Austin
All Rights Reserved.


 
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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