Approaches to maintain regular contact with volunteers and keep them engaged
Volunteering Queensland understands the important role that volunteer-involving organisations play in supporting volunteers during these changing and difficult times. Some volunteer programs have had to drastically change their operations, scale down or pivot in a new direction, and others have had to cease operations all together to comply with government requirements. Either way, this is a confusing and disruptive time for everyone including volunteers.
Now it is more important than ever to stay connected to your volunteers, not only to support them, but also to ensure that they are still engaged when you need them to return to their roles and continue to support your organisation and the community.
Call your volunteers, especially those that may not be on email regularly (or at all). You can also encourage your volunteers to stay connected and call each other. You can even set up a phone tree for those that are keen.
Simply email, if you cannot email individually, forward organisational emails that will keep your volunteers engaged with the latest information. Many of us are sharing resources like this one through our networks, include volunteers in this loop.
Develop a newsletter, share stories, recipes, isolation ideas, organisational information, and updates on COVID-19 as it relates to your organisation. Ask for contributions and have some fun with it.
Maximise your social media platforms, share volunteer stories, introduce people to one another or even set up a private Facebook page for volunteers to connect and share. Connection does not just have to be between your organisation and the volunteer, it is just as powerful to connect your volunteers to one another.
Set up free online video conferencing like Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams which is an easy way to get groups of people together for work (or for socialising). Consider inviting volunteers to your virtual team meetings or setting up volunteer team meetings in this way.
Use this opportunity to upskill your volunteers and provide some online training opportunities. It can be as simple as sending through reading materials about your organisation, sector or volunteering itself. Alternatively, you can source existing online webinars on a range of topics and from a range of organisations like Not for Profit Law, federal and state governments, WH&S organisations, etc. A follow up group session to ask questions and share learnings would also be beneficial and easy to arrange via videoconferencing.
Not every online meeting or conference call has to be about your organisation’s work. Meeting virtually to socialise is a great idea. To do this effectively, you might like to put some topics in place first and actively move the discussion around the group to give everyone a chance to speak. Some groups are trying activities like online trivia.
Consider virtual volunteering, are you able to convert in-person roles to online roles? Revisit your volunteer job descriptions to see whether part, or all of them could be completed from home. Alternatively, are there any administrative or research projects that could be done remotely? Now is perfect time to think about and list those tasks. Remember to keep cyber security in mind.
If there is no way to redeploy internally, you can always encourage your volunteers who would to assist to contact Volunteering Queensland and register for the Care Army via Emergency Volunteering CREW a database that matches volunteers with organisations that need more volunteers for the COVID-19 response. You can also encourage volunteers to search the Volunteering Queensland website for general volunteer roles they can complete from home. This is a great way to continue to feel connected and useful.
The key to maintaining your volunteer relationships and staying connected is communication and opportunities to engage, however you choose to do that. If you need more support on how to do this, please reach out to Volunteering Queensland – we are here to help.
Adapted from information provided by Volunteering Tasmania.