Reshaping Volunteerism During COVID-19
Strategies for adapting programs and purposefully engaging employees
April is Volunteer Month, but with the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling many in-person/community volunteer opportunities, there are other ways to make an impact - virtually and remotely - during this time of social distancing. How do we continue to support the operation of nonprofit organizations - balancing their needs, your resources and current limitations imposed on us by covid-19?
An expanded perspective of volunteering means your teams no longer have to be physically together, and always onsite to make an impact. In our current reality, online and remote service should also be an integral part of your organization’s overall strategy for volunteer involvement. Regardless of your team's skill sets and experience, many causes - whose core values and mission align with the interests of your company’s - could use more than just in-person help. Volunteerism is still happening, but it is being reshaped to meet the challenges of today. Is it more complex? Yes. Are team and event related strategies on hold? Yes. Are there volunteers out there ready to contribute? Without question.
Strategies for Adapting Programs and Engaging Employees
Implementing a virtual or remote volunteer program is similar to the programs you’ve already established at your organization and during this crisis, can have an incredible impact on local communities struck by the pandemic.
We have outlined three strategies for reshaping volunteerism to adapt programs and provide purposeful engagement opportunities for employees. First and foremost, it is important to ensure employees understand you value their health and safety as well as the organizations you are trying to serve. Above all, efforts at this time will be geared toward maintaining social distancing and respecting national, state and local guidelines.
Virtual Volunteering: Engage Employees with Web Based Opportunities
First, explore the considerations for launching and growing your virtual strategy. CyberGrants offers the ability to create and search for virtual events. We are currently in the process of enhancing those capabilities, and anticipate announcing improvements for increasing the visibility of virtual events by the end of April. In exploring virtual opportunities, you’ll find countless skill and interest based opportunities to promote, as well as organizations that can partner with your company to design specific programs.
Here are a few suggestions!
- Partner with an organization that specializes in virtual volunteering, including:
- Host your own virtual event or find organizations that you can promote and recommend for your employees. Here are a few examples we’ve seen:
- Fluent in more than one language? Translators Without Borders
- Just lend a caring ear. 7 Cups Online Therapy
- Like to read and good with grammar? Distributed Proofreaders
- Transcribe for the Smithsonian! Smithsonian Transcription
- Virtually fight cancer in a virtual world. Cancer.org
Non-Profit Partner Outreach: Connect with Non-Profit partners to better understand their needs
Second, engage your nonprofit partners who are facing change. Develop a real-time understanding of their current needs – time, money, and perhaps product. Communicate, support, and encourage. Nonprofits are adapting rapidly – from taking physical events to virtual, offering more remote and virtual volunteerism opportunities, and handling increased donations and matching flow. Our partners at Qgiv compiled a very useful library of guidance for nonprofit organizations that you may find useful in understanding how your nonprofit partners may be changing.
In-person Volunteering: Engage Employees with Individual and Small Group Opportunities
Finally, be consistent with individual and small group volunteerism. Continue to seek nonprofits that align with your company’s mission and or your employee’s skills and interests. Organizations such as Food Banks, Meal deliveries, Schools, and local health services are in real need of additional support. These organizations can and are providing opportunities that allow for social distancing and other safeguards. There is also a major call for blood donations. Help fill the need by contacting your local Red Cross or other blood donation sites.
Other Recommendations for Success
- Set clear expectations and ensure eligibility toward corporate volunteer programs, especially as this may be a new or novel approach.
- Communicate how hours will be recorded
- Set standards for communication among the volunteer teams and team leaders, which may need to be done on a new or existing technology platform.
- Get employees to talk about their experiences to make the volunteer opportunity productive and meaningful. Recognize their contribution.
Keeping Your Employees Connected to Your Organization and Each Other: The Benefits and Unique Upside of Virtual Volunteering
Despite being self-isolated, we are all in this together and it is important to keep everyone connected. Your people want to help, and they need support finding ways they can make a difference. During this difficult time, when many of us feel powerless, your employees may embrace any opportunity to feel empowered and serve a meaningful purpose. We all know the statistical benefits of employee engagement for recruitment and retention, but there are also studies that cover the health and wellness benefits and the unique upside of volunteering as well. Check out our ebook for more details: The Power of Employee Volunteering.
Make Incredible Happen
As the leading provider of corporate social responsibility and employee engagement software, we have witnessed first hand tremendous activity occurring on the giving front. This past six weeks alone, we are proud and humbled to work with our amazing clients who have given over $700M in grants and employee giving with a significant portion designated for COVID-19 related disaster relief. During this difficult time, countless matching programs have expanded, dozens of disaster relief programs have rapidly launched, and new sustaining and recovery grants have been activated with more new programs initiated daily. The funds are flowing and we are thrilled to do our part. However, this is only one part of a broader mechanism that is a greater giving ecosystem. In addition to monetary support nonprofits still rely heavily on volunteers to execute their mission.
In the average year, CyberGrants clients donate over 50 million hours of volunteer time, and we could not be more honored to help facilitate all the incredible things they do.
Are you ready to adapt or expand your volunteer programs?
Contact us now to discuss how you can leverage the CyberGrants platform for rapid and effective response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) or other disasters.