3 Tips for Volunteer Managers Responding to a Global Crisis
Chances are, your nonprofit is ramping up efforts to assist and support clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonprofit organizations, just like yours, are reviewing their volunteer program goals and making changes to respond to the crisis quickly and make the biggest impact possible within their communities.
Regardless of the sector your organization serves, now is a time for all of us to come together and provide traction toward the greater good. How is your nonprofit responding to the pandemic? Is your volunteer program prepared to provide value, while keeping staff, clients and volunteers safe?
Your volunteer program can take a few steps to protect both internal and external stakeholders, optimize your strategy and provide relief to your community at the same time.
Here are three tips for volunteer managers:
1. Prioritize Safety
As a volunteer manager, safety should be the foundation of your program’s COVID-19 response. Because the coronavirus is easily transferable, creating a plan for safety and enforcing those protocols across all shifts should be front of mind. A few best practices to consider when incorporating safety protocols into all volunteer shifts are:
There are many articles and reports about how to incorporate social distancing into our daily lives to protect against the spread of infection. Most health experts recommend a minimum of six feet between people in a group. Your organization should practice social distancing during volunteer shifts and discuss how doing so will impact or change how you work toward your goals on a daily basis.
Here are a few social distancing tips for volunteer managers:
- Provide supporters with televolunteer opportunities (shifts performed at home).
- Remind volunteers often and consistently to stay at least six feet apart at all times.
- Review your needed volunteer manpower and remove nonessential opportunities.
- Spread your volunteer workforce across locations (to limit contact).
Check out these additional resources on social distancing:
Looking for Signs of Illness
One of the most important ways that you can protect your stakeholders is by looking out for any signs of illness. Each volunteer should be evaluated before, during and after each opportunity. Even though the coronavirus appears to affect some people differently, there are a few symptoms that the disease typically displays.
These symptoms, according to the World Health Organization, include cough, fever, tiredness and difficulty breathing (severe cases). Part of your job as a volunteer manager is to open the line of communication with volunteers and find out how they are feeling on an ongoing basis. Doing so will help to protect you and your workforce.
Here are additional resources:
Practicing Handwashing/Environment Cleaning
Keeping work environments and hands clean is another way to protect your volunteers from spreading/contracting COVID-19. You can reduce the risk for volunteers by cleaning and sterilizing surfaces before and after volunteer shifts and by asking volunteers to take handwashing breaks throughout each shift.
The World Health Organization recommends that people wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub. You should provide volunteers with information about how to practice effective handwashing while fulfilling opportunities and the resources they need to achieve it.
Here are additional resources:
2. Optimize Your Volunteer Program to Reduce Barriers
Whether your organization has increased community response due to COVID-19 or have found yourself with downtime because of quarantine, now is a good time to optimize your volunteer program to reduce barriers. Eventually, all nonprofits will be ramping up to respond to the aftermath of the coronavirus. One of the biggest hurdles for most volunteer managers is freeing up time and streamlining processes.
What is holding your volunteer program back? Is your program able to operate to full capacity? Investing in a volunteer management solution can allow your program to streamline recruitment, enhance engagement and reduce data entry.
Here are a few additional benefits of volunteer management software:
- You can create landing pages that appeal to volunteer groups.
- You can incorporate gamification into your rewards and recognition strategy.
- Volunteers are able to self-register and manage their account information.
- Reports can be quickly run and distributed.
Additional resources on volunteer management software:
- “4 Strategies for an Effective Volunteer Management Process”
- “The Benefits of Volunteer Tracking and Management”
We Are in This Together
Regardless of how your organization is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is certain: We are all in this fight together. Now is an important time to communicate with your supporters and remind them that we will get through this crisis.
Effective communication can deliver the message of hope, build your organization’s brand and help to put your supporter’s concerns at ease. Are you communicating with volunteers effectively during this time of uncertainty? Spreading the message of “togetherness” is needed now, more than ever.
Here are a few resources on communicating with volunteers:
Eric Burger is the marketing communications manager for VolunteerHub, an organization that provides volunteer management solutions for nonprofits across the globe. Eric has worked in the B2B software industry for the past two years and has over five years of experience in digital marketing.