According to the UK Civil Society Almanac, 64-75 year olds represent 42% of those volunteering for charities and also those that are most likely to volunteer frequently. Right now, with the government’s new social distancing measures in place, many of those will fall into the ‘vulnerable’ category, finding themselves not only unable to volunteer, but to step foot outside their homes.
The impact of these distancing measures cannot be underestimated. People’s motivations for volunteering go way beyond helping a cause they care about. It is the friendships made, the social interaction within a community, or being part of a team which plays a huge part in keeping volunteers engaged. With these interactions removed, the output for charities and the wellbeing of volunteers will likely be affected, so what can be done to keep everyone engaged?
Whether you are using a customer relationship management (CRM) or volunteer management software such as Assemble it’s time to do some admin. Remind your volunteers or volunteer managers to revisit user profiles and ensure they are fully up to date with key details, such as contact details, available hours, skills and any other relevant information.
Volunteering from home
Try and redirect volunteers skills and time by creating tasks that can be continued from home. The RSPCA, for example, has some great ideas lined up for interested volunteers; these include ways to encourage more wildlife into gardens, litter picking (if out exercising) social media tasks and crafting. Can your volunteers open or manage an online store, write a blog, or even brainstorm fundraising ideas or community initiatives?
What can volunteers do to support one another? Empower your volunteers to connect in whatever way they can to support their teams. Perhaps they become an outreach ambassador for fellow volunteers and offer a friendly ear on the telephone. Can volunteers share their IT skills to help the isolated create social media accounts, or sign up to video conferencing applications?
How about creating a survey for volunteers to complete? We know that by meeting the expectations or motivations to volunteer this will improve retention, so why not gather some important data while volunteers likely have plenty of spare time.
Start a conversation
Do you use a forum, social media platform or internal messaging system to communicate with your teams? Provoke a conversation to get volunteers chatting again. It doesn’t need to be anything too serious, a bit of trivia, a positive affirmation or a recipe to try could get the discussions started.
Share regular news content with your volunteers, keeping them up to date and in touch, even if they are isolating, stories about your organisation will help volunteers feel connected and remind them why they signed up to help in the first place.
There’s no better time than now to show your volunteers you care. It’s an incredibly stressful time, where many will experience high levels of anxiety and loneliness. Just a little note, call or mark of achievement could make a huge difference right now.
Lets keep those interactions going between volunteers, boost morale, combat loneliness and keep our minds healthy.