VOLUNTEERING FROM HOME: A WAY TO ATTRACT MORE VOLUNTEERS
Volunteering has changed dramatically over recent years, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. From serving in a charity shop, helping to run a school event or creating a community garden, usually volunteering meant going somewhere to do something. However, today’s volunteers now often expect that volunteering is more flexible, including doing tasks remotely, donating their time and skills from home or wherever they happen to be! Instead of being present to volunteer in the “real world,” many people have found their place in the world of virtual volunteering.
Why Volunteering from Home?
Volunteering from home, also known as virtual volunteering, allows people to commit their time and services away from the physical site of an organisation, project, or campaign. Volunteering from home can be done on the internet via computer, tablet, or phone to provide their skilled services to support a cause that is important to them.
In-person volunteers will always be in demand, but we’ve seen a huge shift towards people’s interest in volunteering from home. People and organisations have become much more comfortable working remotely.
The internet allows us to do so much more in less time and our skills are no longer limited by our geographical location, with skill sets developing directly from society's increasing use of technology. Because of that, volunteering is no longer limited to just in-person attendance.
For the volunteer, volunteering from home can mean:
- More opportunities to volunteer for multiple causes and organisations
- More time to volunteer
- Flexibility in scheduling, location, and level of involvement, thereby fitting around other commitments
- A unique outlet for skills or passions that aren’t met by in-person volunteering
- More positions for disabled or remote volunteers
- Fulfilling education or career volunteer milestones.
For an organisation, or cause, volunteering from home often provides:
- More volunteer positions that cover more tasks and skills
- Increased access to more qualified volunteers, as well as a potentially larger pool of volunteers
- More ways to save money on operating costs
- An easier way to access more data for your organisation
- Professional-level communications, branding, and outreach
- Opportunities to grow and broaden your impact.
How Can We Make It Work?
Like any volunteering initiative, you need to think about it before leaping in.
In lots of ways, there is no real difference between traditional volunteering and volunteering from home: you still need the same infrastructure that you create for regular volunteers. You need training, a volunteer coordinator, recruitment strategies, and regular communication and engagement with your volunteers.
- Look for those tasks in your organisation that can be done online. There are likely to be many of your normal tasks that can be converted to online work. Also, think creatively, and see if there are other ways to use volunteers from home;
- Check out what other organisations might be doing to get ideas;
- Make sure you have software for remote work. Not all volunteering from home opportunities need sophisticated equipment. For instance, you might ask a volunteer to track something, such as bird sightings, or do searches online for resources. They can use free, simple and readily available tools;
- Take your volunteer applications online and/or your interviews, using software such as Zoom or Skype;
- Be clear with people about what equipment and services they need when volunteering from home. Most projects at a minimum will require a computer or tablet or smartphone, as well as a secure and robust internet connection;
- Think about how their volunteering hours and work can be recorded – how can they let you know when a task is complete?;
- How will you communicate with your volunteers? Sometimes, remote volunteer communication can be hard. How can they contact people when they need help?
Here are some examples of volunteering from home:
- Website design or support;
- Data entry;
- Fundraising phone calls, emails and outreach;
- Email marketing or management;
- Social media promotion and management;
- Copywriting, blogging, or editing;
- Graphic design or photography;
- Marketing or branding assistance;
- Video creation;
- Virtual assistance, staff support;
- Accountancy or book-keeping;
- Tutoring or mentoring.
Of course, this is just a small sample of all the possible volunteering from home tasks a person could provide. Each organisation has a different approach, so there will be unique ways for volunteers to support each charity remotely.
Emma Snell, Go Volunteer Glos Manager
With help from our friends at Spark a Change Somerset