This is an archived version of the Virtual Volunteering Project web site from January 2001.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The Virtual Volunteering Project web site IS NO LONGER UPDATED.
Email addresses associated with the Virtual Volunteering Project are no longer valid.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).
Absolutely! There are thousands (millions?) of online discussion groups that aren't formally affiliated with or supervised by any agency. On these groups, anyone can ask questions and anyone can provide support to others for just about any subject imaginable. These online support groups deal with everything from using a particular type of software to parents home-schooling their kids to people with a particular disease to fans of a particular hobby.
To participate, a potential user merely signs up via the web, subscribes via e-mail, or points a newsreader to a newsgroup. There are many advantages to such groups from the volunteer point of view: no application or screening process, no set time commitment -- people volunteer whenever and however they like. Thousands (millions?) of people benefit from these informal online groups -- many are of tremendous value to participants.
There are materials on our Web site participants in these informal groups might find helpful, such as our index of Resources for Volunteer Moderators and Facilitators of Online Discussion Groups.
Some of these online groups are profiled on our list of organizations involving online volunteers, because they've initiated or demonstrated an effective or outstanding practice or activity in engaging online volunteers that other groups could learn from and adapt for their own use in effectively involving online volunteers.
However, the Virtual Volunteering Project is focused on organized volunteering efforts designed to show measurable results and impact, and those designed to demonstrate a certain degree of quality in the type of volunteer service provided. Most agencies need to evaluate volunteer abilities before matching volunteers to assignments and supervise activities to ensure quality. They also must make sure all volunteer activities fit within the agencies' mission. They must also be able to say how many volunteers participated, track and document all volunteering activities, report how many people were served by these volunteer activities, etc. Our materials are geared primarily to this audience of agency staff and volunteers.
If you are interested in starting or participating in an online or offline self-help group, have a look at The Self-Help Sourcebook Online, sponsored by Mental Health Net. This online resource offers ideas for starting both online and offline groups, how to arrange online support group meetings on commercial networks, how to encourage participation in online support groups, a searchable database of hundreds of national and demonstrational model self-help support groups, and opportunities to link with others to develop needed new national or international groups.
Other helpful resources: The Psychology of Virtual Communities, with research resources and articles on online therapy and online self-help groups; and The International Society for Mental Health Online.
Also see Dr. John Grohol's guide to Starting a New Online Support Group (although this is focused primarily on how to do the start up technical aspects, not how to moderate or facilitate such a group).
If you have other questions and cannot find the answers on this web site, please contact us.
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.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]