Volaby Voice Series:

Volunteer lockdown recovery (Part 1)

Part 1: Understanding your challenge first!

{read time: ~ 5 mins}

With most of the Australian population experiencing some of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns this year, it’s no secret that this has taken a considerable toll on the volunteering community – much of it resulting in the extensive ‘pausing’ of operations (and in some cases termination of volunteering activity until further notice).

This has seen a huge loss of volunteering “momentum” and now confronts us with a new world full of changing restrictions and unknowns for both organisations and volunteers to re-enter. This has been completely heart-breaking to say the least, and has left much of the industry begging the question(s):

“how do we continue to get our volunteer operations up and running frequently?”

“What do we do if this just keeps happening?”

“How do we give confidence and reassurance to our volunteers to come back?”

Ultimately, if we are to continue to live and work in a ‘Covid-world’ for the foreseeable future – how do we stop trying to ‘wait out the storm’ and instead adapt and overcome the conditions to stay as operational as possible?

Now, in a perfect world we wish there was a 1 size fits all or a “just add water” solution to this – but sadly there isn’t. There are too many variables within each organisation and as such each organisation/volunteer/manager will have their own unique challenges to overcome. However, noticing the patterns across organisations who appear to be tackling this challenge quite well and adapting more and more to these conditions, we have drawn on some of these ideas and wanted to present them back to our audience to see if it might be able to help those battling this issue(s) with some practical planning tips.

As such, the Volaby Voice will be running a series of practical tips and applications to help organisations bounce back and prepare themselves for what may yet to come – starting with Part 1: Understanding your Challenge! Before we have any chance of solving any problem, we first much understand it, and the conditions it currently exists in. To do this, we recommend starting with a simple ‘volunteer/organisational survey’ to help us gain insight into the  perspectives/needs/concerns and preferences of our important stakeholders. This is where we can ask such questions as:

1. Are you a Volunteer? An employee? or other?
2. What is the biggest challenge you have faced with recent covid lockdowns?
3. From 1 to 10 (10 being extremely confident) – how confident are you to return to volunteering with us?
4. What is your main concern returning to volunteering with us post lockdown?
5. What is the most important thing we can do as an organisation to make it easy and safe to come back and volunteer as soon as possible?
6. (optional) Have you been vaccinated?
7. (optional) Do you plan to be vaccinated?
8. What else should be know before we start volunteering operations again?

These are of course purely suggestions and we recommend crafting your survey such that it makes the most sense for your organisations and stakeholders.

To help kick off your survey, here are some great (and free!) survey apps that will make it easy to create, distribute and evaluate your data:

Google Forms

For those of you using Volaby: You could add your survey link to a new “bulletin post” and send it out to your volunteer database as a prompt and complete (then add more bulletins for reminders and follow ups for those who haven’t completed yet. Or, perhaps even use it for new incoming volunteers as part of the onboarding questions – click here for more info.

We hope Part 1 of this journey is relevant and of help to you, and we look forward to sending out Part 2 – Evaluating Responses & Crafting Your Risk Matrix!