Tell someone you volunteer your time to help your community. The response is positive.
If you add the word 'online' to that sentence, the context changes.
It feels less meaningful, less valuable, a poorer contribution to society.
That's the problem with online volunteering, it's hard to visualise what this means.
No-one brags about volunteering for an online community. We need to tackle this impression with the following argument.
Online communities need volunteers as much as offline communities.
In an online community, your work has more impact. You help hundreds, perhaps thousands, not just a few dozen.
Anyone can be an online volunteer. They can decide how much they want to help.
Perhaps they just want to welcome a few people a week to the community. Perhaps they want to remove spam that ruins intelligent debate. Perhaps they want to be an advocate and recruit newcomers or create fresh content on a regular basis.
Better yet, they're not limited to discussions about their local community, they can help create an environment that for thousands to become more involved in the topic they truly love.
Almost everyone says they want to do volunteering, but few ever do.
Helping an online community is an easy way for everyone to do something good. We need to make them feel good about it.
On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?