Following the impact of Covid-19 in 2020, there has been a significant spike in virtual or remote opportunities across various organisations worldwide and non-profit organisations are not left out. According to a study conducted by Nottingham University’s Centre of People, Work and Organisational Practice, along with other participants, 92% of the organisations subject to their research moved their services online following the pandemic.

This trend is also prevalent in Nigeria as both corporate and charitable organisations have embraced digital volunteering opportunities. Traditional volunteering which would typically involve physically being present at a nonprofit organisation’s premises to dedicate time and energy to various causes. However, advancements in technology have opened up new possibilities, allowing individuals to volunteer remotely, and offer their skills and expertise from virtually anywhere in the world.

This shift towards virtual volunteering has not only expanded opportunities for engagement but has also emerged as an effective tool in boosting the effectiveness of nonprofit organisations.

Virtual volunteering entails individuals remotely contributing their time and skills to support the mission and operations of nonprofit organisations. These volunteers use various digital platforms, including email, video conferencing, and specialised online collaboration tools, to undertake tasks spanning from graphic design and content creation to article writing and fundraising activities.

Lagos Food Bank Initiative, one of the largest hunger-relief non-profits in Nigeria, has embraced virtual volunteering as a key strategy to enhance its operational efficiency and extend its impact. Traditionally, the organisation relied on physical volunteers to help with food distribution, fundraising events, and administrative tasks. However, they recognized the potential of virtual volunteering to complement their efforts and reach a wider audience. The food bank currently has over 24,000 volunteers constituted of physical and virtual volunteers. 

The introduction of virtual volunteering has had a transformative impact on the efficiency of the Lagos Food Bank. By tapping into a pool of remote volunteers, the organisation has expanded its reach and undertaken tasks previously constrained by limited volunteer resources. Virtual volunteers have played a crucial role in supporting research, fundraising and grant writing, digital marketing, and website development efforts among others.

One of the benefits of LFBI’s virtual volunteering program is inclusivity. Studies from the National Bureau of Statistics have shown that about 6% of the entire Nigerian are living with a disability. Virtual volunteering opportunities levels the playing field and makes the world of volunteering much more inclusive for people who are physically constrained from participating in person volunteer opportunities.

Other benefits which virtual volunteering presents to the LFBI and similar non-profit organisations includes the ability to expand the pool of volunteers, allowing people in various jurisdictions to contribute to the efforts of the organisation. This enriches your volunteer pool with a wide array of experiences and perspectives. Both nonprofits and volunteers benefit from the reduced costs and increased convenience of virtual volunteering. Without the need for physical space and associated logistics, you can allocate your team more efficiently, and cost-effectively.

These benefits do not presuppose that virtual volunteering is not plagued with its own challenges, however, its benefits significantly trumps them, and most of which can be effectively managed to maintain positive results and continue to allow these organisations to benefit from virtual volunteering. 

And so, the addition of this initiative has enabled LFBI to operate more flexibly, allowing volunteers to contribute to their quota and proffer their services to aid the implementation of LFBI’s goals.