One of the things I’ve heard oft-repeated during discussions of the coronavirus is that we are all going to learn that many more jobs can be performed virtually than we previously thought possible.  Volunteering is no exception.

We tend to think of volunteers as the community do-gooders who visit our offices and do manual labor like painting office walls, gardening, sorting inkind donations in clothes closets, or stacking canned goods in food pantries. In fundraising, we tend to think of volunteers in connection with our special events (which, of course, we’re not holding right now during the coronavirus scare). Those acts of volunteer service are critical—for some of us—even essential, but there are many things that volunteers can do even if they don’t want to (or can’t) come into our offices.

Here is a list of 50 things that virtual volunteers can do:

  1. Data entry
  2. Thank you notes
  3. Web design or updates
  4. Scan pictures or documents for archives
  5. Calls—client surveys for outcomes measures or thank you calls.
  6. Social media management
  7. Research (prices, products, policy issues or solutions)
  8. Benchmarking research on other nonprofits
  9. Bookkeeping – accounts payable or receivable
  10. Financial reports
  11. Prepare annual report
  12. Collating
  13. Packaging
  14. Labeling
  15. Answer phones (you can forward a line to a volunteer)
  16. Grant research
  17. Prospect research
  18. Grant writing
  19. Proposal development (other than grants)
  20. Presentations (Powerpoint slides)
  21. Data analysis
  22. Data visualization
  23. Impact reports
  24. Handwritten thank you notes
  25. Resume reviews
  26. Employment candidate phone screens
  27. Blog
  28. Write or design a newsletter
  29. Video editing
  30. Creating infographics
  31. Photoshop work (image editing like sizing for website)
  32. Writing fact sheets
  33. Writing ebooks
  34. Creating landing pages
  35. Translation
  36. Medical coding or transcription
  37. Proof reading
  38. Electronic postings or listings (of jobs, auction items, Pinterest images, and other things)
  39. Travel arrangements
  40. Scheduling/Itineraries
  41. Meeting minutes (use a conference phone line or transcribe meetings from a recording if the meeting isn’t virtual)
  42. Develop logos
  43. Create social media account banners
  44. Create a website favorite icon
  45. Sewing or mending
  46. Cooking
  47. Cake decorating
  48. Payroll
  49. Write/File your 990
  50. Project management

The key to successful management of a volunteer is pairing a volunteer’s skill with your organization’s need. Depending, of course, on the complexity of your organization’s needs and the skill of the volunteer, not all of these tasks are appropriate for all volunteers.  You wouldn’t want to ask a volunteer who knew nothing about what a balance sheet is to engage in bookkeeping for you.

In general, volunteers are so much more capable than what we often empower them to do for us. As a result, many volunteers are not challenged or inspired to further engage in your organization. Some even walk away resentful, feeling like their talents were misused, unappreciated or not needed. If we take the time to get to know what the specific skills of our volunteers are and we think a little more creatively about how to accomplish the needs of our organizations, a happy virtual match can be made between a volunteer and an organization.

Image source:  Used with permission.

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