It’s difficult to find an opportunity to volunteer, especially during covid. Online volunteering makes it easier and safer to donate your time to important causes.
Finding places online to do this can be difficult — it’s hard to judge the workload before you actually accept it and the online aspect makes it hard to know whether you’re making a difference. Additionally it is difficult to find places that allow high schoolers to volunteer. Here are three reliable online volunteering opportunities, ranked, which can be used. None of the platforms below have specific time frames which the work has to be completed in, so the stress and responsibility of normal volunteering is decreased. That said, volunteering online means you have to police yourself, which can be difficult.
3. Smithsonian Digital Volunteering
The Smithsonian Institute has a variety of online workflows, none of which require any particular qualifications. The workflows are the Transcription Center, the Archives of American Gardens, the Encyclopedia of Life, Invader ID, and the Wikipedian Program. The transcription center is especially interesting, as it allows you to choose between a variety of documents to transcribe, recently noted from american civil rights advocate James Baldwin were added. The website can be difficult to navigate however the purpose of the research and the users instruction are clear. The major drawback of the Smithsonian is that most of the workflows are centered on the United States. The website can be found at si.edu/volunteer/DigitalVolunteers
2. Amnesty Decoders
Amnesty International allows online volunteers to assist their professional researchers in discovering human rights abuses. Volunteers look through documents and pictures, and write structured notes about them to assist the researchers. Completed projects include tracking air strikes in Syria by looking at over two million pictures, examining the causes of oil spills in Nigeria by reading thousands of government documents, and identifying remote villages in Darfur by looking at satellite images. The website is well organized for the most part, and while it is difficult to see what the current projects are before signing up, afterwards it is easy to find and sign on to the project. The website can be found at decoders.amnesty.org/
Zooniverse is the largest platform for public research in the world. On it, you can choose between 83 research projects (as of now) which range from transcribing concentration camp records to identifying penguins in pictures in order to track the effects of climate change on their population. None of the projects require any particular qualifications going in and each includes a training period to teach you the necessary skills to do the research. Additionally each project includes an “About” section which explains why the project exists and how you’re helping, and you can sign up for emails with updates about the projects you’ve worked on. The website’s format is easy to use and it tracks how many research classifications you’ve made and for which projects. The website can be found at zooniverse.org