Message from the President

I remember very vividly when my mom and dad agreed to be my Cub Scout leader many years ago. A professional from BSA asked for help, and my parents agreed. There was no time limit set on either side. My parents were committed to doing whatever they needed to do to help me have a good experience.

Things have changed. I believe most people still enjoy volunteering. But volunteers no longer have unlimited time and resources to help. By creating a virtual volunteer program, you can engage more professionals in meaningful opportunities that are mutually beneficial.

How are you engaging volunteers virtually during COVID-19?

Things are in a state of flux, the likes of which some non-profit leaders and fundraisers are not familiar navigating. Boards and non-profit leaders are meeting virtually to discuss the impact that COVID-19 will have on their financial situation. With social distancing, many non-profits are temporarily closing their doors, and staff - which were not furloughed - are working from home. The focus for many non-profits is on how to continue to offer their services virtually.

As we adjust to these changes, I wonder how you are engaging volunteers virtually. I believe most non-profits see the value in individuals volunteering but are struggling to figure out how to engage them during times of crisis. Today, let’s talk about several ways to engage your volunteers virtually.

Until recently the focus of engaging volunteers has been physically connecting and engaging individuals with a meaningful project. It is time to rethink how we engage volunteers. Requiring volunteers to be present excludes individuals who would love to help but are unable to do so because of their health, transportation, location, or limits on their time and availability.

It is also important to adapt to workforce trends. As more and more employees are telecommuting and working from home - especially during COVID-19 - it is important you adapt your volunteer program to accommodate the schedules and availability of volunteers.

It is essential for your volunteers to understand you need, appreciate, and value their support even if they cannot be physically present.

One way you can engage volunteers during COVID-19 is through online fundraising. This includes raising emergency funds to continue to serve your current clients and address new needs that arise related to COVID-19.

Engaging volunteers in your online fundraising is essential. One of the primary reasons online fundraisers succeed is because of the volunteers behind the scenes promoting your campaign. But virtual volunteers can do so much more.

A great example of engaging virtual volunteers is Catchafire. They match non-profits with specific needs to professionals with the skill set they are looking for. All projects are done virtually, and professionals can choose the amount of time they have to volunteer (anywhere from 1 hour to several weeks).

As I think about my experience volunteering with them, I often wonder why non-profits could not adopt a similar way of looking at virtual volunteering.

Engaging volunteers virtually must be simple, clear, and meaningful.

Virtual engaging volunteering can benefit you and your profit. Volunteers will enjoy increased flexibility as it allows them to find projects which match their time, schedule, and interests.

You can benefit by finding skill-based volunteers. These volunteers can help you work through complex issues you may otherwise have to pay a professional to work through. You will also be able to increase your social reach by being able to connect with new individuals and organizations. It has also been proven that volunteers are likely to provide support in other ways to your non-profit, including being a financial supporter of your cause.

The San Antonio AFP board is comprised of volunteers which are here to help YOU and YOUR non-profit virtually.

Yours in Fundraising,