The restrictions posed to in-person interactions from last year brought traditional volunteering practices to a halt. Virtual volunteering was the only alternative.
Where hands-on skill workshops and employee-run community kitchens thrived, now virtual alternatives have taken over. While the adoption was slow initially (as with most innovations), virtual volunteering quickly picked up – soon driving ambitious benefits for the company, the beneficiaries, and the employees.
Last year alone, at Goodera, we executed over 4000 virtual volunteering activities for our clients – constituting a whopping 78,461 hours of volunteering.
Virtual volunteering helped:
i) Employees drive meaning at work by volunteering for causes they care about, from the comfort of their homes.
ii) Companies realize the multifaceted benefits of skills-based volunteering in fostering a healthy, engaged, and more competent workforce.
iii) Nonprofits gain access to thousands of skilled employee volunteers from across the world.
Many companies have moved to permanent work-from-home models, while many are looking at hybrid working models. Whatever the model of working for 2022 and beyond looks like, virtual volunteering is here to stay. As itself, or as part of a hybrid volunteering model that weaves in both virtual and traditional variants.
A complete shift of volunteering activities to a virtual model may sound like a lot to do at once. But when broken down into small goals, the transition can be smooth. Here’s how to start:
- Define your volunteering parameters. Decide the cause areas and geographies you want to focus on. Start by learning what your employees are passionate about.
- Set your volunteering goals. Set up the key metrics that you will use to accurately assess the impact of your volunteering program.
- Choose your nonprofit partners. Get nonprofits that offer virtual volunteering opportunities in cause areas and geographies of your choice.
- Get your employees on board. Once the opportunities, nonprofits, and goals are aligned, communicate the program details to your employees.
- Volunteer.rest.repeat. Run end-to-end volunteering programs that work for teams in different time zones. Measure the impact, communicate it, and revamp your program based on continuous feedback from employees and nonprofit partners.
Instead of doing all of this by yourself, you can leverage the expertise of virtual volunteering companies like Goodera that manage this process end-to-end for you. Free virtual volunteering events are a great way to experience virtual volunteering with your team and gauge if it fits your giving model.
But before you start, it is imperative that you understand what focus areas and activities you should focus on. This information is crucial in helping you set up a virtual volunteering program that resonates with your stakeholders.
Top three cause areas
COVID-19 shined a spotlight on years of social injustice issues that were bubbling beneath the surface. It was no longer prudent to wait until things settled down. Responsible companies around the world took up the baton to help their communities through virtual volunteering.
Goodera’s survey revealed the following as the three most important cause areas companies are focusing on:
- Racial equality: Racial injustice has always been a pressing issue. Persistent disparities in wealth, access to health care, employment, and housing were clearly exposed during the pandemic. Racial equality is one of the biggest social justice issues being addressed by companies today.
- Education: Inequities in access to education – based on race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status – have always existed. COVID-19 exposed these inequities as teachers and students struggle to adapt to distant learning, with hardly any headstart or preparation. Employee volunteers have a key role to play in using their skills to address this.
- Climate change: The drastic effects of climate change – increasing carbon emissions, rising temperatures, etc. are causing alarm. Companies are facing increasing pressure to act on addressing climate change from a broad range of stakeholders. It’s not surprising that climate change is one of the top cause areas companies are volunteering around.
The cause areas discussed above cover some of the most poignant social justice issues of our time. For employees who want to make use of their work time to also affect change, opportunities from these cause areas are mandatory.
The three preferred activity types
I’ve always believed that everyone has an inherent desire to do good. Virtual volunteering creates a gateway for talented individuals to use their skills to create change. Most virtual volunteering opportunities do not require prior experience or any training in particular. Employees can use their voice, their creativity, their writing skills, and whatever skills they choose, to do good.
Given below is the list of the three most popular virtual volunteering events that have been loved globally by employee volunteers:
- Audiobook recording: Recording audiobooks make them more accessible to a wider audience. As part of audiobook recording, volunteers are given clear instructions on intonation, tone, etc. It is a fun-filled activity that not only makes information more accessible but also helps volunteers explore their talents.
- Flashcard creation: Flashcards are great learning aids. They carry bits of information in easily digestible amounts – helping children learn faster. By creating flashcards, employee volunteers get to think creatively on how they can divide information on a chosen topic effectively and represent them through attractive designs.
- Sign language workshop: Learning sign language promotes sensitivity to and awareness of the deaf community. Teaming with colleagues to learn sign language will help employee volunteers build a strong appreciation and respect for the deaf culture, in turn enabling them to promote inclusion.
These activities are interesting, engaging, and have been widely adopted because of how quickly employees have taken a liking to them.
Start your journey
Our survey shows that 91.3% of companies who have tried virtual volunteering will continue with more virtual volunteering activities. And out of everyone who has experienced both traditional and virtual volunteering, 57% prefer to continue with virtual volunteering due to its multifaceted benefits, flexibility, and global reach.
With virtual volunteering being integrated into the employee engagement strategies of most organizations that have felt its benefits, you cannot lag anymore.
Here is some additional reading on the essential steps involved in creating a virtual volunteering strategy.
Let’s work to build a future where every motivated employee is a volunteer.