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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Giving Back is Back in a Big Way: Making An Impact During the Giving Season by Volunteering

 

With Halloween just past and that candy corn starting to look stale, we’re hearing the first rumblings and preparation for holiday volunteer projects, both over Thanksgiving and through the months of December and January. Thankfully, as COVID vaccines and boosters continue to proliferate, the prospects of safe volunteering are looking better than ever.

Here at Golden, we’re seeing a few critical volunteering trends, both in the months recently past and in the upcoming months.

  1. Nonprofits have more volunteer opportunities available AND those opportunities have many more available spots for volunteers, which leads to... 

  2. More large group activities being available - especially for private groups like schools, companies, and service organizations.

Side note: this isn’t true everywhere of course, but just reflective of nationwide trends.

Over the past 18 months, we were grateful to see increased instances of individual volunteers engaged in their communities (especially in less formal volunteering like helping neighbors). As one example, LinkedIn reported that its members added volunteer activities to their profiles at twice the rate of 2017. However, on average, nonprofits on Golden reported a 35% decrease in total volunteers - primarily because large corporate, school, and other group volunteer events were very infrequent.

But, now we’re seeing things shift the other way!

So what does this mean for you?

If you’re a nonprofit…

  1. Start by checking in on local COVID trends and guidelines.

  2. Reach out to formal groups you’ve worked with in the past. This could be religious organizations, service organizations, but especially, corporate groups, as more people return to the office.

PS: Corporate human resources, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and employee resource managers are really struggling to re-engage employees as record numbers have been reported to be leaving their jobs. Vibrant corporate volunteer programs have proven to increase employee retention, so you’re doing them a favor - in addition to generating new leads for corporate donations and grants.

PPS: if you have a volunteer management system that tracks past groups and organizes the relevant contacts accordingly, this is much much easier!

If you’re a company, service organization, school, or religious group...

  1. Start reaching out to your partners of the past - they’re ready for your help! But remember - their needs and your desires (daylong activity for 200 people!) may not completely align. This means that it’s important to…

  2. Be open to new ideas and activities like:

a. Smaller group events for 4-8 people (fantastic for team-building AND for delivering valued services). Great food banks like Midwest Food Bank are places where you can organize formal events or just sign up ahead of time as a group.

b. Individual openings for long-term opportunities, such as adult tutoring and mentoring with organizations like Down Syndrome of Louisville Inc.

These types of volunteering show incredible impacts on the leadership growth of the volunteer. Have a young, rising employee? This is a great chance for them to develop their skills for the future.

c. Remote activities that you and your team can perform offsite, at your own office or at home supporting organizations like the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona or outdoor environmental projects like those supported by EarthShare.

Work at a company that doesn’t have a volunteer program? We’d encourage you to visit our Charity Navigator Volunteer Portal. There are dozens of activities for you and a few colleagues to get involved in. Gather and lead together!

Health and safety is your first priority. Remember to stay safe. We highly recommend reviewing all current CDC and local health department guidelines regarding COVID-19 protocols. These can include mask wearing, vaccination policies and, of course, handwashing (because flu season is here too!).

Pro Tip: if you use a digital waivers product like the one provided by us at Golden, you can add COVID guidelines or codes of conduct for volunteers to review in addition to liability waivers.

As you approach the holiday season this year, we wish you the best of times!

About the author: Steve Sherrill is the Chief Operating Officer at Golden, an award-winning software platform serving over 7,500 organizations around the globe.  Visit: goldenvolunteer.com

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