A little more than a month ago, Todd devoted a post to Blogswana, a project centered on blogging for AIDS Education. The project centers around a university student blogging on behalf of a person afflicted with HIV or AIDS and telling their stories to the Internet audience. It’s a good and necessary project and one that I think will touch the lives of so many people.

Since then, I’ve been scouting for community service/volunteer projects that allow individuals to use technology as a means of communicating or advocating for others. There are hundreds of projects out there that are not necessarily based on simply raising money (though online donation capabilities are very important to a program or organization whose livelihood depends on outside funding), but also give you a chance to commit to offer your guidance to children and young adults.

One such program is the vMentor program, which allows adults over the age of 25 to become virtual mentors to kids who have aged out of the foster care system. The program is possible through a grant made by the Northrup Grumman Foundation and run by The Orphan Foundation of America (OFA). The OFA was founded in 1981 to provide emotional and financial support to foster children who have aged out of the system. It attempts to make bridging the transition between living in the system to living independently a little bit easier, by offering scholarships and care packages, as well as the opportunity to be in a vMentoring relationship with a caring adult. Each mentorship pair (adult and mentee) has an OFA case manager to oversee their correspondance and the pair are not allowed to meet outside of the web portal designed by the organization, ensuring the safety and security of both the mentor and mentee. (A guide to the portal is available here.)

For those who see themselves as too busy to engage in community service or volunteer work, volunteer programs based online provide an excellent alternative.

For those who are strictly interested in donating money, there is also a website called Charity Navigator which helps donors evaluate charities through their financial health. Their vision is to treat charitable organizations “with the same level of accountability as publicly-traded for-profit companies.”

Though Charity Navigator is extending their evaluation criteria to include more than just financial health, for those who are donating large sums of money, this particular tool could be quite useful.