COVID19 Volunteering; Information for Volunteer Managers
At Volunteer Glasgow we have gathered our thoughts on a range of issues facing volunteer involving organisations across the city and provide some hopefully helpful thoughts, advice and guidance. We hope you agree!
In order to design and deliver effective support services Volunteer Glasgow has recently carried out a series of activities aimed at identifying the common issues being faced by volunteer involving organisations. These included an online survey, ‘check in’ phone calls from staff and a series of online versions of our popular volunteer managers’ networking events. A big thank you to everyone who helped by engaging with us, we know this is a particularly busy and challenging time!
The results have now been collated into a short report which can be accessed by clicking on the following link; Report on VG engagement activity
It is clear to see that many organisations and volunteer managers are facing multiple challenges as they try to adapt their volunteering programmes in line with both the lockdown we have seen and the anticipated next phases as laid out by the Scottish Government, which can be seen by clicking the following link; Scottish Government Routemap
Two issues which came up again and again were how best to maintain engagement with existing volunteers and how to meet the challenges of managing volunteering programmes remotely.
Maintaining engagement with volunteers
Due to the nature of how they deliver their services many volunteer managers reported to us that sadly they have had to suspend volunteering programmes entirely and much concern has been expressed about the need to somehow keep volunteers on board for when they are able to get involved again. Some also have volunteers who are unable to engage due to shielding and finding ways of keeping them engaged is equally, if not even more, important.
Here are a few relatively simple ways to make sure volunteers feel involved and engaged whilst they are not able to volunteer;
Keep in touch
Checking in with volunteers is a basic but effective way of making sure they feel involved and valued. It is important to recognise that everyone is an individual and it will therefore not be possible to adopt a ‘one size fits all’ approach to keeping in touch. A combination of methods (texts, calls and emails) will likely be needed as people will vary in their preferences for the frequency and method of keeping in touch. It’s a good idea to find that out early on and plan accordingly!
If you already produce regular volunteer newsletters and bulletins, then please don’t stop even if your volunteering programmes are currently on hold. They can be a great way of keeping connected to people, sharing useful advice and cheering folk up with some fun content. If you don’t usually produce such things, then maybe now is a good time to start? You could maybe even make it a development project for your volunteers to keep them busy and involved.
We all know that many, many people volunteer because they like the opportunity it provides to come together with people and make new friends. The inability to provide this opportunity at the moment is a source of enormous regret and frustration to many volunteer managers. We don’t pretend that it is possible to entirely replicate ‘normality’ under current restrictions but there are still some things you can do such as;
- Creating whatsapp groups for your volunteers
- Putting in place ways for volunteers to keep in touch with each other, buddy systems or pre-arranged weekly phone calls perhaps.
- Video meetings/events via a simple to use platform such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts. These can be really informal, fun activities such as quizzes, themed food nights etc or you might want to take the chance to discuss their volunteering and plan for the future. Or maybe a bit of both?
Involve volunteers in your planning
As we all adapt to both the current situation and plan for the changes the coming weeks and months will bring it is important not to forget to involve volunteers in these discussions. Gathering the ideas and feedback of volunteers is a really good way of keeping them involved as well as ensuring your plans are fully informed by volunteers and their experience, always a good thing!
Help volunteers to tell their story
It is a good idea to encourage volunteers to use any break in their volunteering to reflect on their experience so far, the benefits they’ve enjoyed, the friends they’ve made and the impact it has had. A great way of doing this can be to support volunteers to find a way of telling their story. This can be in the traditional written case study format but it is also a chance for everyone to get creative as a mix of written, pictorial or even video messages can be even more effective.
As well as keeping volunteers engaged this storytelling approach can be hugely useful when it comes to promoting the work of your organisation and volunteering programmes. Volunteer Glasgow looks to help tell these stories whenever we can either through our own channels or in partnership with the media so if you’d like some advice about how to go about it or you’ve got material you’d like us to shout about then please get in touch on email@example.com
Don’t forget that for your young volunteers there is the Saltire Award scheme, an excellent way of saying thanks. You can find out more by clicking the following link; Saltire Awards
Help others by sharing
This is by no means an exhaustive list so if you’ve got other good examples, ideas and/or resources you think might help others grappling with the same issues then we’d be delighted to hear about and share them. Drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recruiting and managing volunteers remotely
Recruiting volunteers online couldn’t be easier! Register for an account on our digital volunteering platform which you can access by clicking the following link; Open an Account
Once you do so you can advertise your roles for free to over 10,000 registered account holders and there is a load of really cool volunteer management functionality too. It’s all very easy to use and our team here are on hand to help support you too. We are currently developing a series of online video tutorials and will also very shortly be advertising dates for online support sessions but in the meantime we can provide one-to-one support so if you feel that’d help then drop us a line on email@example.com
Many organisations have told us that, due to current restrictions, they are looking to provide services which had previously been delivered face-to-face either online or by telephone. This is, in many cases, a whole new way of operating and can present significant challenges but Befriending Networks have a series of excellent resources which can help so please click on the following link; Befriending Network Resources
The team here has also published some handy hint and tips so please click on the following link for more details; Recruiting Volunteers during COVID19
Keeping everyone safe and well is everyone’s main priority so please remember the safeguarding advice which we have previously published and regularly updated. You can see it by clicking on the following link; Safeguarding Blog
If you have concerns or questions about PVG/Disclosure issues then why not join one of Volunteer Scotland Disclosure Services’ weekly virtual drop in sessions? Details can be found by clicking on the following link; VSDS Virtual Drop Ins
We are all acutely aware that the last 5 months of lockdown and restrictions have been a strain and it is important that we all do what we can to protect both our own mental health and that of others. The Mental Health Foundation has published some excellent advice and resources on this subject which can be found by clicking on the following link; https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus
You can also find additional mental health resources here
Volunteer Glasgow is here to help!
Volunteer Management Training/Advice – like many others we are currently developing ways of delivering our popular training services online and will be in touch again soon with news on that but if any organisation feels they’d benefit from some one-to-one advice and guidance on any volunteer management issues then Jim King, our Training Officer will be happy to have a chat so please contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07710976751
Glasgow’s Volunteering Charter – for more information on the Charter please click the following link; Glasgow’s Volunteering Charter If you’re interested in becoming a signatory and would like more details or to discuss the next steps then Derek Craig, our Charter Support & Training Coordinator will be happy to help so drop him a line on email@example.com
Anything else at all – hopefully this blog proves helpful but in such a fast-moving and challenging environment there are bound to be things we’ve not thought of so if you have any queries at all about any aspect of being a volunteering organisation in this trying time (or indeed in more normal circumstances!) then please drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get right back to you.
We will update and recirculate this blog as and when we have new things to add. If you’ve got any ideas, comments or resources that you think would prove useful to other volunteer managers then please get in touch!
Keep up the great work everyone.
All at Volunteer Glasgow