In times of crisis, high volumes of volunteers are needed more than ever. However, due to the uncertain nature of the current pandemic, nonprofits must provide more unique and thoughtful support for volunteers.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the demand for volunteers has experienced an interesting shift. According to an article published by NonProfit Pro, Volunteerism in Today’s World, volunteers are in a higher demand than ever to provide COVID-19 relief.
However, volunteer organizations such as Sterling Volunteers have seen a balance of a decrease in volunteer availability and an increase in new volunteers offering to help.
Despite the major changes in volunteerism during this time, volunteers remain some of the most vital and valuable organs of any nonprofit.
Spokes has covered Tools to Engage Volunteers while Sheltering at Home, with ideas including virtual training and virtual engagement activities, but how does this effort extend as we approach the “new normal”?
We dove a little deeper to give you four ways to assist your organization’s volunteers and ensure that they feel appreciated and fulfilled during a crisis situation, however long that may be.
1. Acknowledge the importance of your volunteers.
In a time of stress, it is vital to express gratitude to your organization’s volunteers. Know what you ask of them and keep your expectations realistic. Updates will have to be made and keeping your volunteers at a high priority will help your organization to run as smoothly as possible.
2. Develop a plan.
Creating structure in a time of crisis is crucial to keeping your volunteers involved and up to date on new opportunities and changes implemented in your organization.
- Create new protocols and procedures where necessary. Make adjustments to ensure safety, for example implementing social distancing guidelines and hand washing stations for in-person sites.
- Plan for shortages and surges of volunteers. This may mean virtual training for new volunteers and remote opportunities for volunteers staying at home.
3. Keep your volunteers safe and comfortable
Be wise and thoughtful about what you are requesting of your volunteers.
- Acknowledge that everyone is different regarding what they are comfortable doing.
- Ensure that their safety is your priority and if they don’t feel comfortable with in-person opportunities they are still valued at your organization.
- Welcome your new volunteers with virtual training, workshops, gatherings, and a safe working environment. Making a good impression is important as these volunteers may stay with your organization after the crisis.
4. Embrace new opportunities
Sustaining meaningful contact with volunteers is crucial to solid and supportive relationships. This could mean virtual, remote or in-person engagement with guidelines.
- Offer both remote and in-person tasks if possible. According to a VolunteerMatch study, 44% of respondents showed an interest to help virtually and 50% wanted to help in-person but needed ideas. Depending on your organization, suggestions include no contact deliveries, video calls with clients, donation collections or virtual companionship.
- Offer meaningful support with remote volunteers. This could mean brainstorming new ways to help, implementing new policies for remote working or virtually checking in.
For a nonprofit, striving for normalcy in a crisis can be challenging. Ensuring that your volunteers feel supported and appreciated is a huge step in keeping your organization functioning as healthily as possible.