Now is the time to prepare your organizations volunteer program to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How your organization prepares and executes a strategic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the crisis has impacted the community your nonprofit serves, is crucial. Many organizations are already responding to the pandemic and others are assessing how they can reach people in need of support. How is your organization fulfilling its mission during this time of uncertainty? How have you adapted your processes and procedures? Have you developed an organized and safe response?
If your organization has not yet created a strategic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not too late. We do not know how long the COVID-19 pandemic will affect our communities, but we do know that support will be needed from nonprofits now and in the wake of the storm. Here are a few tips to consider if your organization has not planned a response yet.
Focus on Safety
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that many nonprofits, just like yours, can effectively reach people and fulfill mission. Safety, although important before the pandemic, has become a key focus area for organizations responding to need in the community. If your nonprofit wants to provide support, within your community, it is key that your volunteer program adapts to the “new normal” with regard to the safety of volunteers, staff, and clients. Creating a safe approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and your organization’s response will ease the fear of supporters and limit risk.
Here are a few tips for deploying a safe response:
- Only fill volunteer opportunities if social distancing can be practiced.
- Take temperatures of volunteers before and after shifts.
- Ask volunteers to wear masks when fulling opportunities.
- Make sure that surfaces are cleaned before and after use.
- Limit the interaction between volunteers, staff, and clients.
Check out this example of an organization providing a safety-based response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Create a Detailed Plan
Details are an important component for creating a strategic approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. What is the need of the community?, What roles are safe for volunteers to fill? How will you keep clients safe while pursuing mission?, How will your organization communicate with volunteers and other stakeholders amid the pandemic? These are just a few of the questions the plan should outline. Creating a detailed plan is important because it provides clarity and direction to everyone involved in your organization’s response and ensures that everyone is on the same page. Creating a detailed plan can also help your nonprofit drive the most possible value from your program and make the biggest impact within the community.
Here are a few tips for developing a COVID-19 action plan:
- Determine how the pandemic has impacted your organization’s essential services and ability to execute them.
- Review how your organization’s volunteer program operated prior to the pandemic and look for COVID-19 response barriers.
- Create a plan for how changes will be communicated with volunteers and other organizational stakeholders.
- Identify how your volunteer program will operate during and after the pandemic.
- Look for opportunities to drive additional value from volunteers and donors (cross-pollination)
- Describe how your organization will use tools (example: volunteer management software) to execute COVID-19 response.
- Find new ways to reach and respond to need within the community.
Invest in the Right Tools
Having the right tools in place to compliment your nonprofit’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is essential. Your organization should have tools in place to streamline processes, communicate response, engage supporters, and free up time. One of the most beneficial tools for nonprofits responding to COVID-19 is volunteer management software. Utilizing a strategic volunteer management solution can save your organization time, increase volunteer value, and provide your team with the ability to engage supporters quickly and efficiently. Many organizations have saved hundreds of hours per year by implementing a volunteer management solution and discontinuing manual management practices.
Here are a few benefits of volunteer management software:
- Your organization can integrate volunteer management software with your CRM solution for better insights and transparency.
- Your organization can create campaign pages and allow volunteers to self-register for opportunities.
- Your organization can deploy a gamification strategy to engage volunteers and promote friendly competition.
- Your organization can use software to organize volunteers and create volunteer groups.
How your organization responds to the COVID-19 pandemic can help set your nonprofit apart and provide real relief to the community at the same time. Your nonprofit is needed more today than ever before. When creating a response plan for the COVID-19 pandemic, your nonprofit should focus on safety, outline the plan/execution details, and invest in tools that can help you respond smoothly and strategically.