How to empower volunteers during a pandemic

07 September 2020

During these trying times, the people who volunteer for your charity are more than important than ever

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During these trying times, the people who volunteer for your charity are more than important than ever. There are so many people in desperate need for the services or support you provide, and your volunteers are the vessel to deliver them. This is why empowering volunteers is so important, the people who give up their time to help your cause don’t have to do it, they are choosing to. For this reason, it’s paramount that they need to feel like the benefits of their efforts outweigh the costs to their personal and professional lives.
 
It’s important to note that many people, in the current global climate, may be feeling insecure in their jobs, which will lead to the feeling that their time is better spent doing something else that will earn them money. You may find that volunteering is less of a priority for a lot of people who would normally donate their time and efforts to your charity, in this Ansvar blog post we will be sharing our top tips for empowering your volunteers to drive your cause, hopefully ensuring you can continue to help those who need you now and in the future.
 
Paint the bigger picture
 
Although this might sound obvious, remind your volunteers what they’re working towards, regularly show them the bigger picture and what part they specifically play within that. For example if they are helping pick up donations for a foodbank and taking it back to your site they are directly bringing the food to the place the most in need can get it. See if you can quantify this, for example by telling them that in x amount of volunteering hours or trips to the drop off points they have fed x number of families for x number of meals.
 
You need to demonstrate the difference they are making and how important they are to your organisation. By doing this you will help the volunteers see the bigger picture and they’ll know exactly how valuable their time spent volunteering is.
 
It's in the details
 
Especially in this current time where face masks are necessary in a lot of places, why not provide your volunteers with PPE that they can use to keep themselves protected? You may even be able to invest in some branded masks or visors and hand sanitisers that will not only be functional but will also help raise brand awareness for your charity.
 
These extra touches here and there will show that you are thoughtful towards your volunteers and that you value them as a person too. Have a think about how you can add small, yet effective touches to the equipment and resources available to your volunteers, and you’ll be surprised at how much they are appreciated.
 
Champion and inspire
 
Whether you decide to circulate this internally, externally, (or both) be sure to recognise when a volunteer joins, goes above and beyond, hits a milestone, or just simply does a great job. This positive reinforcement will inspire your existing and potential volunteers to do what they can to the best of their abilities and feel like an important part of the team.
 
You could send regular newsletters to all of your volunteers and patrons, or use social media to share things more publically. If you do decide to share more on social media, we would also recommend sharing what you do day-to-day behind the scenes. This kind of information is going to be of high interest to anyone considering volunteering for your charity and may help them take that step.
 
Take their advice
 
Your volunteers are going to be some of the most knowledgeable people when it comes to how your charity can be improved. We suggest offering your volunteers the opportunity and space to pitch their ideas and thoughts on how the organisation can be better run and managed. They truly care for the cause and will want to do anything they can to help improve it and make more of a difference, so let them speak up in a way that works for your charity and see how much can be changed, and how empowered your volunteers will feel that you listened to them.
 
We hope this blog post has offered some inspiration and guidance on how to empower your volunteers during this trying time which will support your cause and help you to continue to help those in need. If you listen to, communicate with, and show your gratitude to the people who keep your charity running every single day, we know you’ll see a group of people who are empowered and feel valued. If the people feel good, they’ll help you do even more good.