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Engaging Virtual Volunteers

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As nonprofit organizations across the country adapt to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, individuals are looking for ways they can help those in need in their community.  Volunteers are a vital resource for all nonprofit organizations, especially during a time of crisis and recovery, and it’s inspiring to see the compassion and determination to help.  But, due to physical distancing requirements and heightened concern for the health and well-being of all volunteers, some organizations have had to limit, or even suspend, their regular volunteer activities for the time being.

If your organization has adjusted your volunteer activities due to the current crisis, here are a few ways you can leverage your volunteer base and keep your volunteers engaged during this time:

Maintain Communication

Remember that your volunteers may also be impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.  Check-in with them to find out how they and their families are doing.  This gives you an opportunity to remind them of how important they are to your organization, share the latest updates on what your organization is doing in response to the crisis and how much you are looking forward to seeing them again when they are able to return.  Don’t forget that  April is National Volunteer Month!  There is still time to tell your volunteers how much they mean to you and how their service directly impacts the lives of the clients you serve.

Virtual Volunteer Opportunities

Just as many of you have made adjustments to allow your staff to work from home, your volunteers can too!  Be creative and consider how your organization can make it easier for your volunteers to get involved.

Here are a few ideas to get you started engaging your volunteers virtually:

  • Provide a virtual toolkit with images, messaging and other calls to action that volunteers can share on their social media channels (make sure to provide this group with regular updates as mentioned above so they have new content to share)
  • Consider asking volunteer leaders to thank your donors, many of whom may be making their first gift to your organization right now (a simple call or email of appreciation is all you need and helps the development team who may not be able to spend as much time as they would like making this additional outreach)
  • Ask your volunteers to participate in a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign
  • Collect volunteer stories and memories that can be shared on your organization’s blog or on social media

For so many of you, volunteers are the lifeblood of your organization by providing their time and talent for a mission that is close to their heart.  Volunteers are also ambassadors for your organization and can be a source of support for those you serve and for each other.  Maintaining regular communication, identifying new opportunities and providing virtual tools will help you to keep your volunteers engaged in new ways and keep your relationship with them strong.

Communities across the country are finding new and innovative ways to engage their volunteers during these uncertain times.  If you have an example of how your volunteers have banded together to support their neighbors, let me know at hoconnor@cecilcommunication.com.  I’d love to hear from you!

Helen O'Connor
Helen O'Connor
Helen O’Connor is the Capital Campaign Manager for Brad Cecil & Associates. She joined BCA in 2016 and currently oversees the day to day communication among clients and BCA’s Capital Campaign team. In her free time, Helen enjoys exploring Dallas with her dog, Ralph, cheering on her favorite team, the Red Raiders, and being the “fun aunt” to her seven nieces and nephews.
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