Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I have seen more and more NGOs who are trying to accomplish their missions with the help of on-line volunteers run into difficulty, I was very happy to see this article published by On Line Volunteering dot Org. I have reprinted it here in its entirety and the authors may be found at On Line Volunteering .org


A well-planned and well-formulated assignment is the starting point for a successful online collaboration.

When planning an assignment, make sure to:

CLEARLY DEFINE THE TASK: Break your needs down into clearly defined tasks and create one assignment per task, e.g. (assignment 1) ‘Develop website’ and (assignment 2) ‘Edit website content’. This will increase your chances of finding the most qualified online volunteers for the respective tasks.

ENSURE SUSTAINABILITY: To ensure the sustainability of an online volunteer’s contribution, think about how the online volunteer can help develop your organization’s skills. For example, don’t just ask for an online volunteer to update your website, but ask him or her to teach you how to do it yourself.

When formulating the assignment, do it in a clear, precise and detailed way. Make sure to:

CHOOSE A MEANINGFUL TITLE: It is on the basis of the title that potential applicants will assess whether it is worth seeking more information in the detailed assignment description. The title should therefore be descriptive and reflect the task which the online volunteer is expected to perform (e.g. ’Help design website’), rather than the volunteer position (‘Website designer’). This is more appropriate to the volunteer nature of the assignment and helps attract the interest of qualified online volunteers.

INCLUDE DETAILS: The more information online volunteers have before deciding whether they want to apply for an assignment, the more focused the applications are which you receive. Hence, in addition to clearly describing the task you expect the online volunteer to carry out, include further details about the assignment, e.g. the kind of materials the volunteer will be translating, the number of pages of the document, and about the support your organization will provide.

HIGHLIGHT IMPACT: Online volunteers are always interested to see how their contribution is used and how their assignment deliverable benefits the organization and those it serves -- adding this information will make your assignment more attractive for potential candidates.

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