The covid-19 pandemic has forced companies to review their commitment to volunteer missions. Everything at a distance, nothing in person -- the result is e-volunteering. It's involvement that takes place at a distance, which makes it different in many ways from classic volunteering but which also has positive ramifications, such as a lower carbon footprint.
E-volunteering is an approach that allows employees of a company to share their skills in a distance training session. In short, volunteering via videoconferencing or digital tools. This "virtual volunteering" offers a new approach to companies and employees' involvement since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic and addresses corporate social responsibility (CSR) requirements.
Through training organizations or NGOs, employees can apply for tutoring, coaching or training assignments with structures seeking assistance.
In 2018, the European Commission talks about "e-volunteering" on its blog. "It is responsible for, among other things, creating help and self-help groups, giving free online advice, helping with translation, launching social e-campaigns, creating databases, checking whether municipal office sites publish documents in accessible formats for the blind or help learn foreign languages," notes Karolina Milczarek, author of a paper on this blog.
Today, the term e-volunteering seems to be spreading as much as its practice. The NGO Planète Urgence, which acts through initiatives and training of local actors in developing countries through volunteer missions, has adapted its formula.
"With the crisis, nearly 90% of volunteer missions could not be carried out. We had to reinvent ourselves," says Muriel Roy, deputy director general of Planète Urgence. The concept was launched in July 2020, but the first e-volunteer training was given by Maureen Delorme, an employee at Lactalis, in October 2020 within an eco-tourism association in Cambodia.
Although these training sessions are not carried out on site, Muriel Roy is pleased with this online support system which, despite the difficulties of the period, has some positive points: "This tool allows us to reduce our carbon footprint and to bring on board new volunteers who were not necessarily available or ready to go abroad." She concludes: "it will engage people differently."