We are witnessing the moment when the people, freed from the dimensions’ barriers, create new behaviors and new methods of solving social problems. One of them is the powerful social movement of e-volunteering, linking positive initiatives in the Internet. Convinced about the power of e-volunteering, we want to support it, promote good practices, prevent obstacles hindering it’s development. To achieve this, we have launched the www.e-wolontariat.pl portal. It is a non-profit endeavor, engaging individuals, institutions, companies and non-governmental organizations. We want this portal to become a platform linking the leaders and organizers with e-volunteers and to strengthen e-volunteering in Poland. We are still looking for the answer to a number of questions: What is e-volunteering? What forms does it take? What is the scale of this movement? We want toarouse a discussion on that.
E-volunteering, like volunteering in real world, bases on voluntary engagement into social issues, on voluntary approaches and actions. Rules are the same: self-help, support, helping people, building common good. Notwithstanding, E-volunteering brings a new quality – it takes place in the virtual world and goals are achieved with the use of new technologies. Thanks to the possibilities of the Internet, e-volunteering may take such an extraordinary scale – impossible in the real world. E-volunteering leaders may involve into global projects – on the same rights – people from big cities and tiny villages from all over the world.
Mutual supporting is crucial in e-volunteering, which shows by the several virtual self-help and support groups. However, e-volunteering is also an immense movement for building common good: gathering information (e.g. Wikipedia), producing goods and offering services (e.g. recording e-books), or e-charity (pajacyk, click-and-donate project of the Polish Humanitarian Action). E-volunteering comprises both single, spontaneous actions and those perfectly organized, involving thousands and millions of people.
E-volunteering is a new phenomenon in our culture, still not fully examined and defined. For scientists still being an exciting area, waiting to be explored. Nevertheless, several areas where its development is especially noticeable, can be named: collecting knowledge, education, culture, new technologies, human rights, volunteering of people with disabilities, safety in the net or humanitarian aid. E-volunteers create virtual museums, galleries, astronomic maps and educational portals. They organize campaigns promoting rights of political prisoners and groups discriminated against or actions promoting safe use of the Internet.
Therefore, as authors of the first portal devoted to e-volunteering and e-volunteers, we postulate:
• to stop associating activity in the Internet with negative phenomena and to stress good occurring in the net;
• to include e-volunteering in the Public Benefit and Volunteer Work Act of law;
• to consider e-voluntary experience of the people with disabilities by the employers as a form of professional experience, preceding entering the job market;
• to teach students methods of helping others via the Internet;
• to use e-volunteering as a method of preventing the technological exclusion;
• to prevent threats stemming from e-volunteering by creating universal e-volunteering standards and codes;
• to take advantage of the upcoming occasions for presenting the achievements of e-volunteering: 2011 – the year of Polish Presidency in the European Union, and the European Year of Volunteering.