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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Navigating a Complicated Holiday Season

This holiday season may be the most complicated we’ve ever seen – how do we safely gather and help others while COVID-19 cases increase across the country? With our communities more in need today than ever, we must navigate this pandemic safely in order to achieve our missions. 

Here at Golden, we regularly analyze what non-profits in our network are up to. Organizations that are seeing the most success in the last few months are taking advantage of the situation by tweaking their regular activities a bit while establishing strong safety protocols.

Take Advantage of the Situation:

  • Smaller groups are safer.

For volunteer opportunities requiring multiple people, try creating more shifts designated for smaller groups of people. 

The Eagle Valley Community Foundation has created shorter shifts for fewer people (2-4) in order to operate safely. With the shorter shifts, volunteers can work hard and not worry about burning out. 

  • Families are “podding” together… 

…so they’re the perfect audience to perform group tasks. Eagle Valley has seen a big increase in teens coming with their parents – it’s a great way to recruit the next generation!

Bonus alert! With smaller groups, parents can easily watch minors that they accompany (making your life a bit less stressful!).

  • People prefer to operate from the safety of their own home…

…and they’ll make sacrifices to do it. On the Golden platform, we’re seeing a huge increase in participation in Wish Lists (a great feature on Amazon and other sites), donation drives, and especially DIY Care Package creation.

Volunteer engagement with opportunities that ask them purchase needed items themselves is at an all-time high. They’re also very willing to make deliveries directly to the appropriate end location. Just give them the instructions, and watch the magic happen!

  • The “unconventional” is becoming the norm.

Volunteering in cold weather usually means being inside, right? Well, maybe not this year! The CDC notes that COVID-19 transmission happens most often in enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces.

If possible, try moving your activity outside. The New York Times, Washington Post, and more are all talking about people socializing outdoors in chilly weather, so why not volunteer?!

Of course, this doesn’t work for everyone, but if it can for you, now is the time to ask them to bundle up and brave the chill. Not only will you create a safer environment, but you may also attract more volunteers who would otherwise feel uncomfortable inside.

  • Add new activities to your regular set of volunteer opportunities.

Sometimes, simply keeping our community engaged and excited to come back when the pandemic ebbs is the best we can do.

We all have community members who live alone and are health-compromised. Some of them may even be regular volunteers whom you haven’t seen lately. This is a great year to introduce a new activity to your roster – the phone check-in. It’s simple and can be done by any volunteer from the comfort of their home. 

In early November, the March of Dimes ran a nationwide-effort to call and thank local essential workers. It’s not part of their core activities, but it was a small action that went a long way.

Establish and Communicate Safety Protocols

Most importantly, establish clear safety protocols (the CDC is a great one-stop-shop). In addition to posting signage at your entrance, a recent Golden survey found that asking volunteers to sign a “COVID-19 Awareness and Protocols Agreement” as well as your standard liability waiver was the most effective way to ensure they follow protocols.

Written by Steve Sherrill, the Chief Operating Officer at Golden, an award-winning software platform serving over 7,500 organizations around the globe.  Visit: http://goldenvolunteer.com.

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