By: Avi Mayerhoff
What is “virtual volunteering” and why should your company engage employees in these opportunities – especially now? Virtual volunteering, much like in-person volunteering, allows people to match their skill-sets to online opportunities to give back. These can range from writing, research, web design, art, translation, data entry and a multitude of other options. There are, essentially, nearly as many ways to volunteer virtually as there are in-person.
Now onto the WHY. Well, recent surveys such as the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report on COVID-19 outline the high expectations of businesses to Act. Employees are trusting information from their employers even more during the pandemic and 78% of respondents are looking for companies to act. Providing opportunities for employees to give back not only has the potential to boost morale, but also boosts trust from the employees, consumers, and the community, especially during such a great time of need. Shifting to (or creating) a virtual volunteering opportunity can help companies reach new audiences and also keep those currently engaged connected to the cause.
Companies that employ a young workforce should especially take note. In an ongoing weekly survey of young people (age 13-25) by DoSomething.org, many are looking to channel their skills during the pandemic into something that will make a difference in their communities.
More on this research here.
With companies like Twitter allowing employees to work from home indefinitely, maintaining a company culture of goodwill among all employees – not just Gen Z – will become increasingly difficult without a concerted strategic effort to develop ways to maintain this continuity of company values even while employees cannot be in the same physical space.
Here are three ways to begin planning for a virtual volunteer employee engagement program:
- Assess your company’s mission and values and nail down the specific areas in which your company could provide the most value. For example, the Harry’s Shave Club workforce is helping to send encouraging Mental (Health) notes during May, Mental Health Awareness month. Every year Harry’s gives 1% of their profits to nonprofits that support mental health services to men in need. Their goal is to help 500,000 men by 2020, so this opportunity is “authentigrated” with their mission.Are your nonprofit partners already offering virtual volunteer opportunities? If not, reach out to your partners first to see if they are open to creating opportunities.
- Appoint a virtual volunteer ambassador. Many companies already have an employee or team focused on corporate social responsibility and/or community affairs, and even though this will be new territory for the most seasoned CSR professional, they are most likely more familiar with the landscape than others at your organization. Having a point person will keep your virtual volunteer opportunities organized and will allow your company to pivot more quickly to virtual volunteer partnerships.
- Pick causes that are in your employees’ community. Remember the old saying “Think global, but act local?” That still applies for virtual volunteering. Employees want to feel connected to their communities and choose causes that they are already supporting in their everyday lives. Look for synergies (back to tip 1) that align with your mission and purpose, but also make sure these options are inclusive of employees’ interests or already established connections.
This can seem daunting to get started, but with a little planning and thoughtfulness toward your partners, the impact will have ripple effects across your organization and community.
Have more questions about creating virtual volunteering partnerships? We’d love to share our expertise. Reach out to set up a time to chat.
Ready to get started? Here are just a few websites where you can find additional virtual volunteering opportunities and connect with local partners: