“On chat, people reveal way more than they do on the phone, and that is a huge opportunity for us to start exploring topics surrounding assault and coercion without making the visitor feel completely vulnerable.”Conversely, the greater anonymity of the chat system makes it more difficult to gather information that can help provide the best support.Volunteers have far fewer contextual clues about the visitor’s gender, age, or current state of mind, and you cannot make assumptions.However, as with businesses across all sectors, nonprofits are not impervious to shifts in the way people communicate.

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I let visitors know that the chat is anonymous and they do not have to share anything with me they do not want to.

I ask if they are safe and if they have any privacy or safety concerns. Sometimes, visitors share what is on their mind right away, while others take longer to open up. RAINN was one of the first victim-support organizations to launch an online hotline back in 2007.

RAINN offers these chat services in addition to its telephone hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Operating the online hotline requires a substantial amount of financial and human resources, and money for initiatives like this is in short supply.

As a volunteer for the Rape Abuse Incest National Network, or RAINN, I know first hand about the organization’s efforts to adapt.

I went through 60 hours of training and supervision to become an online volunteer on RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline, where I talk to victims of rape and sexual assault through an anonymous, Instant Messenger-style chat service.Since then, it has served almost 250,000 visitors and demand for the service grows every year.Two hundred volunteers and 45 paid staff members work around the clock—24 hours a day, every day of the year—to provide continuous support for the online hotline.All you have to do is answer a couple of simple questions and you’re ready to go.Why get bogged down with inconvenient registration pages when you don’t have to?free chat website that lets you connect with people quickly and easily.