The situation due to COVID-19 has led all of us to make a great amount of changes in a very short amount of time. While sheltering-in-place is necessary to keep us all safe, it is proving to make running a nonprofit more challenging than usual. Luckily, there are ways to combat some of the difficulties presented by this new reality and keep your nonprofit functioning while sheltering-in-place.
Because of these difficulties, those working with volunteers may find that they are unable to put in as many hours as they normally do. Not all work can be completed from home and volunteers who deliver direct services are unable to do so due to sheltering and distancing. You might find yourself in need of additional volunteers or new volunteers with different skill sets are needed to navigate the next few months. While in-person training has been suspended until further notice, we’d like to highlight other ways to safely and effectively provide prospective volunteers with necessary information and training. For example, one alternative would be to create a training video to send via email or post on your website. The goal is not to create a professional quality video – just a recording of the presentation you normally make at an in-person training. Another option is using an application like Powtoon to create animated training videos that are fun to both make and watch!
A second alternative to in-person training is using a video communications platform like Zoom or Google Hangouts to conduct your training virtually. Visit this Business Insider article for a comparison of the two platforms. One of these options will look the most similar to your normal training sessions and will only require that you invite prospective volunteers to the training, providing them with the information they will need to join the meeting. If recruiting new volunteers is too challenging and yet more help in certain areas is needed, consider cross-training current staff and volunteers to perform key duties within your nonprofit. Now is the time to really utilize the diverse skill sets of your wonderful staff and volunteers! This training can be virtual, as discussed above, or can be delivered in-person to employees who are deemed essential workers under the shelter-in-place order.
Though some counties are exploring plans to reopen, there is no set date for lifting the shelter-at-home mandate and no guarantee that life will return to normal anytime soon. Consequently, it’s imperative to innovate and identify new technologies and solutions to sustain meaningful engagement with your organization’s stakeholders, including volunteers, donors, and employees working remotely. This can be done by hosting virtual social gatherings, creating/maintaining an email newsletter, and establishing a strong social media presence for your organization. A small reminder about your organization’s mission, highlighting a shared love for service, and expressing a desire to continue helping your community can go a long way with your organization’s extended community.
Remember, you’re not alone. Spokes is working alongside you to find new ways to safely and virtually provide the management support and resources you need. Please contact us if you would like more specific assistance managing volunteers and sustaining stakeholder relationships remotely.