A plea for Online Volunteering to restore our home planet
7 minutes
jun 1, 2020

A plea for online volunteering to restore our home planet

We live in a unique time. Never was the state of our home planet – and the need to save it – so clear. Earlier this year Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz called the climate crisis our Third World War, the first World War in which humanity is all on the same page. Luckily, we also live in a time where it is getting easier and easier to connect and collaborate with others, even if they are on the other side of the globe. These two phenomena combined create an opportunity for the growth of remote skill-based volunteering.

The state of our home planet and our awareness

Our planet is not doing great. Just now the majority of the world is realising the devastating effects of our way of living. The earth is losing around 18 million acres of forest every year  and scientists estimate that we are losing species at up to 1.000 times the background rate. And then our biggest challenge: climate change. Global warming can  reach 4.1° to 4.8° above pre-industrial by the end of this century. In the Paris agreement, we agreed to keep this under 2°. The graph below paints the current state of the climate crisis (source: climateactiontracker.org).

It is time to take action; we have absolutely no time to waste. To meet the goals of the Paris agreement we have to drastically reduce our emissions while they are currently still on the rise.

Luckily, more and more people become aware of the devastating effects of humanity on our planet. We are almost at the point that Climate Deniers are categorized as conspiracy theorists. This is a good and absolutely needed development, but it is not enough. What we need is people who are not only aware of the state of our home planet but also want to take action. People who are passionate about fighting the Climate Crisis. People who want to fight for the species that are bound to go extinct. People that want to dedicate their time to save our home planet. Fortunately, we live in a digital age. An age where everyone can take action.

With online volunteering, your postal code or schedule does not matter

Skill-based volunteering isn’t a new idea. For years multinationals like PepsiCo and IBM have sent their employees on short-term volunteer projects for leadership development or product innovation, convinced that this setting gives their employees the chance to grow as a professional.

But the connectedness of the world is growing exponentially. Nowadays even large parts of the Majority World are connected to the internet. For example, countries in South East Asia are gearing up to a 5g network, and the mobile broadband connection in Africa is growing rapidly. This development opens doors for skill-based volunteering, as from now on you don’t have to be physically present to contribute to a cause. It opens one big promising door: online skill-based volunteering.

Online skill-based volunteering enables everyone to take action. When collaborating digitally, postal codes or working schedules do not matter. A graphic designer based in Northern America can efficiently communicate with grassroots movements on the other side of the globe. A web developer from Costa Rica does not have to travel to Tahiti to contribute to the restoration of their corals. Everyone can act, no matter where you are based.

Making a difference

While we have never been this aware of the state of our home planet, we still think it is hard to tackle a big topic like the restoration of our home planet. Recent research shows us that people find the Climate Crisis disempowering. This because the solutions that are usually proposed seem either pathetically small (buy less plastic packaging) or impossibly large (reform the US congress).

So the good news is that more and more people want to take action. The bad news is that these people feel disempowered by the huge problems we are facing. We think that remote skill-based volunteering can be the solution to this paradox. It allows people to contribute to already existing initiatives that are making a difference, either globally or locally. It can be the middle ground.

That’s why I started Jointly

In the last few years, I became much more aware of the state of our home planet. Not only became I more conscious about my impact on the world, but I also wanted to devote my time to the restoration of the planet.

I realised that as a Graphic Designer I could put my skills to good use. That's why I started to e-mail non-profit initiatives that are targeting our plastic problem; as this cause was top of mind for me at the time. This went less smoothly than I initially envisioned. It was quite hard to find an initiative that could use my skillset.  After a while, I found a great match with The Plastic Ocean Project, but it took me way too much effort to contribute to our world. That's why I started Jointly. A platform that makes it easy for people to connect with environmental non-profit organisations for online volunteering projects. On our platform non-profits can post projects, potential volunteers can respond to these projects.

Jointly is completely free for every party involved and does not work with sponsored projects. As we want everyone - also projects from non-profits in the Majority World - to get an equal chance on receives professional assistance.

At the moment we are keen to get in contact with environmental non-profit organisations that could use so help in the form of remote skilled-based volunteering. Do you need a copywriter for your blog page or web developer to upgrade your website? Contact us! Jointly is a certified non-profit organisation and is registered in The Netherlands.

A plea for Online Volunteering to restore our home planet

Douwe van Schie

Founder | Designer | Operations
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