VolunteerPro’s annual report on the state of volunteerism and its management practices explores meaningful, timely topics that may point to where volunteerism and volunteer management are heading. Respondents to the survey were in 22 countries. Most were from nonprofit organizations, but responses also came from government agencies, educational entities, small businesses, and churches.
One of the significant areas explored in the 2021 report is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This area segues into another important topic — technology used by nonprofit organizations. The third major area studied is inclusivity and diversity in the volunteer industry. Finally, the survey asked about the direction of volunteer management.
COVID-19 and Volunteerism
With the world still reeling from COVID-19, the long-term effects on volunteerism are difficult to gauge. However, some immediate findings reported by volunteer managers include:
- A drop in volunteer numbers
- A decrease in both the number of volunteer roles and diversity among volunteers
- Increasing complexity in the responsibilities of volunteer recruitment and management
The report also shows many organizations have shifted the way they interact with volunteers due to health concerns stemming from the pandemic. For example, more online interaction, including meetings and training, kept volunteers engaged. However, some volunteer programs suffered due to their lack of resources or their volunteers’ readiness to adopt new technologies.
Technology Use by Volunteer Organizations
In response to limitations placed on face-to-face interactions due to the pandemic, many survey respondents reported at least some new use of technology to keep volunteers involved. At the lower end of the technology spectrum, more frequent emails and newsletters were distributed. Other simpler methods used include:
- Post cards and notes
- Pen-pal programs
- Home tasks
- New roles not requiring contact
At the more advanced levels, organizations used technology and digital platforms to host meetings and conduct training sessions.
A somewhat unexpected finding was that technology use did not necessarily correlate to age. In many cases, older volunteers and volunteer managers readily adopted modern innovation while younger managers reported fewer advances in their use of technology to keep volunteers involved.
Inclusion and Diversity in Volunteerism
The pandemic has also affected inclusion and diversity in volunteerism, reducing the opportunities available. Organizations may need to adapt and expand outreach efforts to utilize dormant talent in their local communities fully, the report concluded.
In general, the time devoted to volunteer management decreased. This led to fewer advances in outreach and perhaps lowered nonprofits’ ability to effectively use technology to recruit new people and reach out to all volunteers. The lack of time spent on developing programs and interacting with volunteers may limit the ongoing effectiveness of nonprofits, if not addressed.
Download the Volunteer Management Progress Report
You can download a full copy of the report at www.volpro.net.
Volunteers Insurance Service Association, Inc. (VIS) was established in 1972 for the purpose of providing insurance and risk management services for volunteer-based organizations. In addition to still providing these insurance services today on a nationwide scale, we have expanded to provide noninsurance resources for members to manage their risks and improve their operations. By transferring the volunteer risk exposure to our program, we can help you protect your organization. Contact us today at (800) 222-8920 for more information on our programs and services. Join now!