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Virtual Volunteer Best Practices

Virtual Volunteer

Editor’s Note: We thank Sterling Volunteers, an official partner of VIS, for the information in the following post. VIS members receive a substantial discount on Sterling’s services. 

Volunteers are the lifeblood of many non-profit organizations. As managers, you rely on your volunteers to deliver community-oriented services. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have had to shift to a virtual environment. Volunteers may now have to contribute in a remote role. In this new environment, being aware of best practices can help you strengthen relationships with your volunteer cohort. Here’s how.

Identifying and Shaping Virtual Volunteer Roles

It is a good practice to assess the current roles and capabilities of your virtual volunteers. How are they conducting operations, and what tools are they using to connect with clients? With this information, you are able to leverage these capabilities and to create opportunities for service expansion.

Creating opportunities for virtual volunteers is a four-part process:

  1. Identify the needs of the community and the organization via staff surveys, department meetings, and process analysis.
  2. Assess the viability of those identified needs in light of volunteer capabilities. Can volunteers address these needs in a remote environment? If so, this may be an opportunity for expansion.
  3. Identify the specific roles of the volunteers. Depending on the opportunity, roles may be long- or short-term, episodic, or on-call.
  4. Formalize roles with position descriptions, including details of the work to be performed and the tools they may need to complete their tasks.

Stakeholder Engagement

For virtual volunteering to succeed, everyone in the organization must be onboard. Tips to build stakeholder engagement include sharing success stories, working with volunteers to define roles and position descriptions, reviewing assessments together, and allowing team members to help select volunteers and opportunities if possible.

Finding Virtual Volunteers

While existing volunteers can be transitioned to virtual roles as needed, many organizations have discovered a need for new volunteers. To find suitable volunteers, it is a good practice to ask your current staff if they know anyone who is interested in working with the organization. Next, virtual volunteering opportunities must be posted online, including VolunteerMatch, social media profiles, and volunteer centers.

Finally, reach out to your community partners. Leverage these relationships to identify and recruit sympathetic volunteers who can help you continue to deliver important services in a virtual environment.

About VIS

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!