In these times where most people are at home and social distancing, it might feel difficult to keep volunteers engaged. It is more important than ever to keep volunteers engaged and ready to jump in when we are able to be together again. Keeping your volunteers engaged is also great for their health and wellness during this heavy time. Volunteer coordinators might find themselves reflecting on their volunteer programs and even wondering if their events will take place. You might be wondering how your volunteers are doing, given the current circumstances, and how things will fall into place in the future.
We’ve put together some ideas that may help with reaching volunteers and providing ways that they can contribute from home to keep engaged.
Develop a virtual team.
Find volunteers/staff who make it a focus to meet virtually on a regular basis to discuss and implement initiatives. (As we are all learning, you can easily get started with this at no cost through virtual meeting platforms, like Zoom.)
Do you have volunteers that could help with writing copy, letters or grants?
It goes without saying that keeping your name out there and securing funding right now and for the future is imperative.
Create short-term project teams to help volunteers get a feel for your organization and make an impact.
For example, do you have volunteers that could help with creating digital art, website design or video editing?
Do you have volunteers that would be good at public relations?
Even if your event is not occurring in 2020, these volunteers can communicate a positive spin and get the message out that you will be back stronger and better in 2021.
You could also utilize this public relations talent for social media posts and outreach. Focusing this content around storytelling is an especially good way to connect. You could have volunteers share your culture, goals and missions. They can also share their stories and experiences with volunteering.
Host a virtual event.
For example, you might host an event where everyone makes thank you cards to send to the essential workers in your community. This one would be especially great to involve families who have kids.
Tweak, set-up or revise your volunteer training program.
Do you have volunteers that would be good at taking the lead on implementing or improving your training program? Now is a great time to dig into an area like this, and it is easily done remotely.
Use the experience of your volunteers to revise your volunteer program. You might want to expand or change up the work/shifts available, revise checklists, revise volunteer applications or take a look at areas from past events that could be stronger and improve on them. You could also use experienced volunteers to design or update position descriptions.
Check in with each other!
Have a volunteer, or team, create a phone tree to check in with other volunteers and keep in touch. Or set up a regular virtual “happy hour” or hang time.
People are eager to help. Start recruiting!
It might not seem like it, but now is also a good time to recruit volunteers. Many people have unexpected extra time right now and are looking to contribute to a cause they care about or feel like they are making a positive difference.
Engaging volunteers remotely can be challenging, but with some creative thinking, you may be able to get through this with your volunteers engaged and even recruit some new volunteers. The creativity we have seen from people engaging around the world during these challenging times is so inspirational. We hope that these ideas are helpful in keeping volunteers engaged and ensuring that you have a strong volunteer base during and after this pandemic.