Serve anywhere, anytime through a virtual volunteer opportunity! Some of these opportunities allow you to begin immediately, while some require an application and ongoing commitment. Review the links below for complete details, and contact the Center for Civic Engagement & Learning (email@example.com) if you have other suggestions of nonprofits to add to this list. Check out a recording of CCEL's Navigating Virtual Volunteering info session for additional tips on navigating this page and first-hand experiences on serving remotely.
I. Short-Term and/or Available for Immediate Start Opportunities
Help Missing Maps from your computer with disaster relief efforts around the world by mapping missing buildings, roads, and other distinguishing features in a community onto a satellite map in order to assist first responders in their disaster response decisions.
Free Minds, a nonprofit based in Washington, DC, uses books and creative writing to empower incarcerated artists who were sentenced to adult prison as youth with the tools to transform their lives. Volunteers are needed to comment on poems posted on the Free Minds Writing Blog, and this feedback will be shared with the poets. Free Minds also hosts a monthly virtual write night to hear from speakers and comment on poems in real time; stay tuned to its homepage for alerts on upcoming write nights.
You can volunteer to be a text corrector for CWRU’s own digitized student newspapers. Nine newspaper titles with over 6,000 issues featuring over 300,000 articles have been digitized and OCR’d. While the optical character recognition (OCR) technology is very good, it is not perfect. Volunteer to correct errors and learn about CWRU’s history and the experiences of students before you. After you register as a text corrector, there is a brief tutorial. Contact CWRU Archives (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Support researchers at the University of Minnesota with mapping racial covenants, which contributed to structural barriers by stopping many people who were not white from buying property and building wealth for most of the last century. Volunteers are needed to review deeds and other historical documents to flag them for racial language. Researchers will then use the data to map historic structural racism and its present day consequences. For further learning, watch this short video on the history of redlining.
The Mapping Prejudice project also hosts occasional real time, virtual work sessions; stay tuned to its Facebook page for dates to be listed.
Project Gutenberg converts hard copy texts now in the public domain to eBooks so that all may enjoy them for years to come in a freely available form. Volunteers are needed to proofread scanned pages of text before they go to Project Gutenberg’s archives to ensure they have converted properly to eBook format. After you register and review the instructions for how to begin, you can volunteer as much or as little as you’d like. Proofreading at least one page a day is recommended.
LibriVox volunteers read and record chapters of books in the public domain (i.e. - books no longer under copyright; primarily those published before 1923), and make them available for free on the Internet. Recordings (including yours!) are also donated into the public domain so that others may enjoy them in audio format. Books are recorded in a variety of languages, and volunteers may join to read just a chapter, individual poems, a full book, or listen and edit others’ readings.
Zooniverse is an online platform for people-powered research, allowing researchers to analyze their information more quickly and accurately than would otherwise be possible with the help of virtual volunteers. There is no minimum time commitment, and volunteers can start immediately on one of the many projects, such as tagging penguins in remote regions, transcribing handwritten correspondences between anti-slavery activists, or searching gravitational waves.
- Library of Congress By the People volunteers transcribe documents online to make them word-searchable in the Library of Congress catalog. Many of these documents have never been transcribed before. Read the instructions, and begin immediately supporting a variety of campaigns, such as Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words, Letters to Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony Papers, and more.
- Through the Citizen Archivist program you can contribute to the National Archives Catalog by tagging, transcribing, and adding comments to records making them more accessible and searchable.
- Become a Smithsonian Digital Volunteer and help make historical documents and biodiversity data more accessible. Join 14,791 "volunpeers" to add more to the total 516,426 pages of field notes, diaries, ledgers, logbooks, currency proof sheets, photo albums, manuscripts, and biodiversity specimens labels that have been collaboratively transcribed and reviewed since June 2013. No set time commitment is required, and volunteers can begin immediately. Browse opportunities online, and read a guide and FAQs on transcribing.
II. Ongoing, Specialized, and/or Application-Required Opportunities
United Nations Volunteers apply to work on virtual projects for UN affiliates across the globe on either a short-term or ongoing basis. Projects are in the areas of writing and editing, translation, research, teaching and training, art and design, technology development, and more. Browse opportunities online.
Seeds of Literacy is a Cleveland nonprofit that provides free basic education and GED preparation to adults. Volunteer tutors provide one-to-one attention, instruction, and encouragement to adult students as they work toward the GED credential and a life of possibilities. In addition to its in-person tutoring options, Seeds of Literacy also offers remote tutoring support through its Virtual Classroom using Zoom video and telephone tutoring. The curriculum has been digitized, so tutors and students both have access to the same materials. Seeds of Literacy also offers a virtual tutor training option. More information about becoming a virtual volunteer tutor is available online as well as additional details about the current remote tutoring structure.
Crisis Text Line is the free, 24/7 text line for people in crisis in the United States. The service is powered by volunteer Crisis Counselors who work remotely — anywhere with a computer and secure internet connection works. After completing a 30 hour training, Crisis Counselors commit to volunteering 4 hours per week until 200 hours are reached. Ideally, it is expected that you fulfill your commitment within one year.
AIM2Flourish is a globally used program of CWRU’s Fowler Center that teaches students about the positive effects that business can have on society and the environment by having students interview business leaders and write stories about their innovations. Each story is reviewed by volunteer AIM2Flourish Editors to check for grammar and clarity. Editors serve about 1-2 hours a week reviewing stories virtually, and students interested in learning more about the role can find additional details online.
Connecting Champions asks kids & young adults with cancer, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and connects them with a mentor for the cancer journey. The nonprofit is currently looking for mentors, including students who are at least sophomores and above in college, to serve as a virtual friend to a youth receiving treatment at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital or at another pediatric hospital in the country while the program is expanding. Volunteers should be able to commit to a minimum of six months, with at least monthly virtual visits (volunteering schedule is typically flexible and is projected to be all virtual for the immediate future). Those interested in being considered are asked to complete an inquiry form and will then be sent an online application to be entered into the mentor pool. Placements are not guaranteed and dependent on the youths’ interest areas and matching criteria, so the experience is not designed for students looking to satisfy a specific volunteer hour requirement in an allotted timeframe.
Bookshare volunteers can either scan book files into an online library or proofread scanned files to ensure they have formatted correctly so that individuals who have reading barriers may more easily access books for school, work, or fun.
Operation Photo Rescue seeks volunteers with experience (in Photoshop using: Levels and Curves Adjustments, Layer Masks, and working in Channels) to restore photos that have been severely damaged by natural disasters back to the original picture.
Create Circles is a nonprofit dedicated to engaging older adults and promoting brain health through meaningful conversation and activities. Interested volunteers can complete an application and watch a training video to be matched with a senior to provide virtual visits, which are especially critical in preventing social isolation and promoting well-being.
IV. Additional Resources:
Visit the below sites to research additional ideas. Most of these sites have search functions to browse “remote” or “virtual” volunteer opportunities. When identifying opportunities, please be sure to follow all COVID-19 protection measures.
- All for Good, a service of Points of Light
- American Red Cross, Youth Virtual Engagement guide
- Business Volunteers Unlimited Resource Center (Cleveland) as well as its virtual volunteering resources
- Catchafire, skills-based volunteering
- Cleveland Pandemic Response, mutual aid resources
- Idealist.org, resource to locate nonprofit jobs, internships, and volunteering
- Taproot, skills-based volunteering
- We Care For CLE, collaboration of Cleveland nonprofits to highlight ways to support the social sector during the COVID-19 pandemic
Important Note Regarding Opportunities:
Please note that the Center for Civic Engagement & Learning alerts students to a range of community-based opportunities—posted opportunities are a sampling of options, not endorsements. Students should independently research opportunities carefully to make sure the program is a good match for their interests. Additionally, posting of opportunities and events does not constitute an endorsement by Case Western Reserve University or CCEL of a particular political issue, candidate, political campaign, or election. During the COVID-19 pandemic, CCEL supports all measures to protect yourself and others by following state and national guidelines and restrictions. You can view CDC information and resources here.