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Internet Revolutionizes The Way Of Volunteering:

Fund Developers Should Look to the Internet
for Highly-Skilled Resources

by Randy Tyler

When it became ever more difficult to recruit face-to-face volunteers, our youth treatment agency, Macdonald Youth Services (MYS), turned to the global Internet for help. Whether looking for a graphic designer, video editor, software developer, database creator, writer, web designer or voice narrator, for example, our organization has been at the leading-edge and forefront recruiting volunteers from around the globe.

This new kind of faceless, highly-skilled volunteers, whether from such far flung locales as Bangladesh, Toronto, Texas, Sri Lanka, Montreal, New York or Hong Kong, have various reasons for getting involved, but their willingness to help us, an organization they will never see, or even know where it is located on the map, is unprecedented and amazing.

With the global explosion of online users, the Internet is revolutionizing and forever changing the face of volunteering. Never before have volunteers had the opportunity to donate their time and talents to an organization a province, state, country or continent away from the comfort and convenience of their home.

Five years ago, even though located in a city of about 650,000 people, we noticed an increasing challenge recruiting onsite volunteers, so we turned to cyberspace for help. We were was also a growing agency with limited space, and thus embracing this idea opened up a host of virtual offices, not limited by regular work schedules or physical access barriers. We were also able to access a huge, diverse pool of mostly untapped volunteers from around the globe who used the latest software and hardware to enhance our services.

And the decline in face-to-face volunteering we observed was also reflected in a recent Statistics Canada report. This August 2001 report revealed a whopping one million fewer volunteers were involved. Of major significance was the finding related to the reason cited for not volunteering. Specifically, the most frequent barrier mentioned for either not volunteering or not volunteering more, was lack of time.

But the convenience and flexibility of volunteering from home via the Internet allows one to volunteer for whom they want, when they want, irrespective of time and country. And with the current 665 million worldwide Internet users projected to reach over one billion by the end of 2005 (eTForecasts), an avalanche of users is in motion to continually embrace this new way of volunteering and forever change the concept of volunteerism. This revolution upon us requires a redefinition of what a volunteer is. Thus a volunteer must also be defined as faceless, virtual and offsite. But although virtual and possibly thousands of miles away, this faceless volunteer must also be considered as highly-skilled, productive, committed and trustworthy.

And with this huge growth in users, we are set to venture into even more creative areas that will allow virtual volunteers to further assist our charitable organization and the children we serve. And due to the help of an online volunteer software developer, we can now efficiently involve these volunteers using our best practices, interactive web-based approach that enables most of the volunteer management process to be executed online.

We never see our virtual volunteers at MYS but we sure see the fruits of their service.

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About the Author:

Randy Tyler, BA, BRS, Webmaster and Volunteer Coordinator for Macdonald Youth Services, a leading charitable treatment and support agency based in Winnipeg, Canada, is a pioneer, expert and frequent conference presenter on online volunteer program development.

You may contact the author, Randy Tyler at: 1-204-949-4292 or email:

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