In times of crisis, communities have always rallied together, through volunteering and raising much needed funds to improve conditions for those in critical need. As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, while navigating the new realities presented by COVID-19, your employees are eager to find their place in helping the most vulnerable among us. They’re looking to you for guidance on the best way to support their communities. Here are some steps you and your business can take to actively support volunteering in this new era.
Many businesses have established corporate volunteering programs and offer employees company-sponsored volunteer time. Often, these programs centre around in-person group volunteering opportunities with specific non-profit partner organizations. With COVID-19 limiting this type of service, it is important that businesses find alternative ways to safely promote volunteering. Removing restrictions and allowing employees to use their volunteer hours in varied and often more informal ways, will allow them to feel that you value their contributions to their community, even in these challenging times.
share virtual volunteering opportunities
Your employees have a lot on their plates right now, and as much as they would like to give back, for many, they need their employers to do the heavy lifting in finding suitable and safe volunteer opportunities. While Volunteer Canada has put together guidelines on the best way for volunteers to engage safely while volunteering in-person, many companies are reluctant to encourage employee participation to such opportunities. Virtual volunteering has become the safest and most desired way for employees to give back. The beauty of virtual volunteer opportunities is that the same geographic limitations to in-person volunteering do not apply. Employees can volunteer for a cause in their backyard, or to provide their skills to those in countries in the developing world. Provide your employees with virtual volunteer resources through Volunteer Canada, a local Volunteer Centre, or through partner organizations.
COVID-19 offers opportunities for businesses to create more sustainable change in so many areas, volunteerism is no exception. Encouraging employees to find innovative solutions to systemic problems is a great way to give back to the community. Invite employees to spend time on causes they care about. Using their skills, and your business tools could prove to be a game-changer for non-profit organizations looking to pivot their service models to meet the new global realities.
listen to your non-profit partners
Many businesses have funding and volunteering relationships with non-profit organizations. These organizations are facing extraordinary challenges, both in terms of financial and human resources. Providing offers of help and support to your partners are both appreciated and needed at this time. However, be sure to listen carefully to the challenges they are facing and their true needs and current limitations. Through this dialogue, businesses may find opportunities to provide tools or skills-based resources to support these partners that can develop into company-specific volunteer opportunities. But be patient, this is something businesses will have to work on with their partners to ensure that the program meets both short and longer-term needs.
The world has changed profoundly in the past few months, and as a result, community needs are becoming more acute. Providing employees with ways to be a part of the solution will go a long way in demonstrating that your business understands that it is part of a bigger picture in making the world a better place.