Keeping volunteers safe is the responsibility of your nonprofit. Here are 5 steps your organization can take to promote safe volunteerism amid COVID-19.
How is your organization keeping volunteers safe while fulfilling community needs and promoting impact? Are you still providing volunteers with opportunities to give? People within your community are looking for safe ways to make a difference, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It is up to your organization to optimize your volunteer program, adjust to change, and look for ways to develop a safe and secure working environment for volunteers and staff.
We have provided several steps below for promoting safe volunteerism and there are many resources available through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted health organizations.
Here are 5 steps your organization can take to promote safe volunteerism:
Requesting that volunteers sign waivers, prior to fulfilling opportunities, is a great way to protect your organization, program, and supporters. Many nonprofits are finding waivers and waiver tracking software to be increasingly valuable, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, because they can be used to ask health-related questions.
Deploying volunteer management software, like VolunteerHub, can help your nonprofit incorporate waivers into your “safe volunteering” strategy. VolunteerHub provides the waiver creation and tracking solution that your organization needs to protect your program and the people who support it.
Here are a few questions that your organization can ask volunteers via waivers to reduce risk:
- Have you been in contact with anyone exposed to COVID-19?
- Are you experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19?
- Have you traveled, recently, to an area where COVID-19 is spreading?
Check out this detailed list of questions, created by The South Dakota Department of Health, to ask volunteers/staff: https://doh.sd.gov/documents/COVID19/BusinessScreening_Q&A.pdf
Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) & State Guidelines
If your organization is utilizing volunteers for in-person opportunities it is crucial to review and follow CDC and state-issued guidelines. These guidelines will help guide your volunteer program and provide best practices for protecting volunteers and staff.
Here are a few recommendations from the CDC (see full list):
- Educate staff and stakeholders on when they should stay home and when it is safe to gather in-person with other people.
- Provide supplies to support healthy hygiene for staff, facility visitors, and attendees at all events.
- Maintain 6-10 feet of space between individuals.
- Require volunteers and staff to wash hands before, during, and after shifts.
- Provide volunteers and staff with access to personal protective equipment (PPE).
Contactless Check-In / Self-Reported Hours
One of the best ways to protect in-person volunteers is by eliminating exposure from the very beginning of the opportunity fulfillment process. With volunteer management software, like VolunteerHub, your organization has the ability to allow volunteers to check-in to volunteer opportunities via a QR code or their personal mobile device.
This valuable capability reduces exposure between staff and volunteers. VolunteerHub also makes it possible for your nonprofit to allow volunteers to self-report hours, pending the approval of your organization. These two features of VolunteerHub’s volunteer management software can greatly enhance your organization’s process and strategic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Offer Virtual Volunteer Opportunities
Another way to eliminate potential exposure between volunteers is by recruiting for virtual opportunities. Your organization should consider using virtual volunteers to fill skill-based roles such as marketing, administration, IT, and fundraising. Any role that can be completed remotely would be a good candidate for virtual volunteerism, especially amid the pandemic.
Promoting and recruiting for virtual volunteer opportunities is another area in which volunteer management software becomes invaluable. Your organization can use a volunteer management platform, like VolunteerHub, to create opportunity calendars for both in-person and virtual opportunities, making it easy for a potential volunteer to find the ideal role for them, and register.
Learn more about VolunteerHub’s volunteer recruiting software
Keep Volunteers in the Communication Loop
One of the most important things your organization can do is communicate effectively with volunteers. Strategic communication should be even more of a priority for your nonprofit amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Ongoing communicating with volunteers can provide supporters with information about your organization’s response to the pandemic, how they can remain involved, and provide them avenues to give in other ways, such as fundraising.
Your organization can use volunteer management software, like VolunteerHub, to greatly improve your communication process. The communication features of VolunteerHub make it possible to send email and SMS messages to individuals or groups of volunteers, quickly and efficiently.
Learn more about VolunteerHub’s communication features
Chances are, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way your organization utilizes volunteers. Keeping volunteers safe requires careful planning and execution, but it can be done. Now is a great time for your organization to look into utilizing waivers, providing volunteers with a contactless experience, offering virtual roles, and communicating effectively, to build your program, long term.