This opening-up is also reflected in the voluntary sector, with services resuming or the transition back to an in-person model picking up pace - and an explosion of volunteer roles becoming available in order to support this. Although the appetite for volunteering remains high, volunteers may still have reservations about mixing with others, getting involved with new organisations or picking up roles they previously enjoyed before the pandemic. With volunteers needed more than ever to reinforce services, how can we best support them, provide reassurance and ensure they feel comfortable and safe engaging with us?
Francesca, our Volunteering Officer highlights a number of tips from the NVCO to support organisations who work with volunteers. She is available for VCSE member support on 024 7622 0381 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supporting volunteers to feel reassured and engaged
- Communicate clearly how your organisation is managing the risk of covid-19. Explain the steps your organisation is taking to protect the health and wellbeing of volunteers and why. It may be helpful to have your approach explained in writing as well as explaining it in person. Give volunteers the opportunity to discuss any concerns they have about the organisation’s approach with a named person or volunteer manager.
- Where possible, be flexible with your volunteer roles and activities. Be mindful of the fact that some volunteers will feel more vulnerable than others. If a volunteer has particular concerns about doing an activity or role, see if there are ways in which you can alleviate their concerns or be flexible in what you ask them to do.
- Be honest about the challenges. Volunteers are often mainly motivated by the cause and empathetic of the challenges you may be facing. Be transparent about timeframes, what your organisation can offer and where you may need additional support. Remember they're ‘on your side’ and bring energy, ideas and time to help you achieve your goals.
- Seek volunteers’ views at regular intervals. Ask volunteers how they're finding giving their time and what could be better. Always feedback to them on any changes you make due to their feedback.
- Take the time to thank volunteers for their efforts. Provide regular feedback to volunteers on the difference they're making to the people you are working with or your cause. This could be how many people you have reached or a case study of how someone has benefited from your work. Research shows many volunteers highly value informal thanks and feedback. Read our guidance on thanking volunteers.
- Proactively contact those who have chosen to pause or stop volunteering. This may be due to a change in their circumstances; for example if they have less time available with the lifting of restrictions. If possible, acknowledge the change in their circumstances. You may want to see if there are alternative volunteer roles that would better suit their new circumstances. If not, ‘keep the door open’ for them to return to volunteering. If they've chosen to stop volunteering with your organisation, try to make sure you end the volunteering relationship well.