The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook

now available for purchase as a paperback & an ebook from Energize, Inc.

Published January 2014.
Coyote Communications Technology Tip Sheet Logo
Online Culture & Communities of Volunteers
Realities and Benefits of Connecting Volunteers (and all humans) Online

What is it like to work with people -- volunteers, donors, remote staff -- you seldom or never see onsite, face-to-face?

Can you build trust among a remote group online?

Can a person learn to work with others online successfully, or does one have to have an instinct for it?

Can you be a leader online?

Does the Internet take the human element out of volunteering and community?

Does online civil society exist?

Mission-based organizations (not-for-profit organizations/NPOs, non-governmental organizations/NGOs, civil society and public sector agencies -- government departments and initiatives) have long been using the Internet to work with volunteers (including board members), staff, donors, the media and others. It's now expected by many potential volunteers and members of the public that these organizations engage in such online activities; many consider it the norm for operations, regardless of an organizations size, mission or history. The vast majority of this online work is still done via the written word (email, instant messaging, an online bulletin board/online forum, etc.), although teleconferencing and video conferencing, in conjunction with written means, is growing in practice.

Working with people remotely, and primarily via text only, presents many challenges. But while there are volumes on how to use online networking tools from a technology point-of-view, there's not an equal amount on using them from the human point of view.

Some people are instinctively terrific at working online with others via only the written word, or even via live video or audio conferencing tools; some people struggle not with the technology but with the whole concept of managing, or, simply talking to, others regularly, online. Why do some people flourish online while others flounder?

This section of the Coyote Communications site is meant to promote ideas and resources on how to work together online, mostly via the written word (since that's still how the vast majority of nonprofits communicate online), and how to look at an email or IM address or an online profile as a person, not a line of characters and numbers or random photos. Being able to work online is becoming an essential and much-sought-after skill in the work place, including at mission-based organizations, and these pages are meant to help those who want to enhance their online skills.


Some of this information was developed originally for The Virtual Volunteering Project, and all information was written and compiled by Jayne Cravens.


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