Calling all volunteers and employee engagement enthusiasts!
April is National Volunteer Month and April 18th – 24th is National Volunteer Week. It is a month long celebration of volunteers and volunteerism, with many opportunities popping up in local communities to volunteer on special projects.
If you’ve been looking to get involved, April is the perfect month to learn more about volunteering and what your local nonprofits need. Last year was an especially difficult time for volunteering. Many states were locked down due to the pandemic and many people wanted to help their communities but needed to know how to safely.
This year is a bit more hopeful for the volunteering scene. With vaccines rolling out nationwide, there are more ways to volunteer in-person safely. While nonprofits have had a year to learn how to engage volunteers on remote projects, there are still plenty of ways to volunteer remotely and from the safety of your own home or with your quarantine “pod”.
An important thing to remember when scheduling team volunteer opportunities for your office is to be mindful of team members’ varying levels of comfort with any in-person activities. Consider celebrating National Volunteer Week or Month with both in-person and virtual opportunities so everyone can be included.
Below are seven ways individuals and teams can volunteer or celebrate volunteerism this month remotely or in-person.
1. Host a food drive for a local food bank.
We’ll start with the low hanging fruit or easiest to coordinate. This can be done in the office and remotely. If you have a fully remote team or team that is split between in-office and remote employees, encourage them to go through their pantries and put together a brown paper bag of goods to donate. Then host a virtual team happy hour to celebrate how many pounds of food you were able to donate. Ask the donations manager at the food bank to hop on the call for a few minutes to highlight the nonprofit’s mission and impact of donation drives for their organization.
2. Partner with a local nonprofit to work on special office projects.
Do they need a new database built? Event budgeting and project management? Files digitized? Or help building their Summer social media calendar? Find one or a few projects within an organization that are in need of professional help completing and pair it with your team’s strengths. Maybe your IT department could help organize a database or teach the nonprofit team how to use WordPress features; while your marketing team helps brainstorm social content and teaches them how to use different social platforms.
3. Help combat senior loneliness.
Seniors are one the populations who felt the pandemic the hardest. Not only are they in the high-risk category but many spent the past year more isolated than ever. Nursing homes and senior village communities weren’t allowing visitors until only recently. Individuals, families, and teams can coordinate a pen-pal or phone buddy program with a local nursing home. Families can make holiday cards to send to senior centers throughout the year. If you’re looking for a longer volunteer commitment, schedule out monthly or bi-weekly phone calls and befriend a senior.
4. Celebrate your team’s volunteerism
…by sharing photos and giving shout outs on social media, in blog posts, or on the company’s intranet. Be sure to tag the nonprofit in social posts to help raise awareness for their mission.
5. Create a volunteerism video.
Highlight employees and teams, nonprofits, company community engagement goals met, and the impact of your collective efforts on the community and nonprofit. Then share the video internally and/or externally to recognize and celebrate individuals and teams who took time to volunteer.
6. Beautify a green space or local park.
Choose a park with enough room to keep individuals socially distanced while cleaning, painting, and planting. Give everyone a “thank you” grab bag at the end to replace the typical after-volunteering drinks and celebrate later via a Zoom lunch or happy hour to wrap up the project.
7. Plan a day of individual volunteering – together.
Plan a company-wide volunteer day and let employees choose a local nonprofit organization they would like to volunteer at for a day or half-day. This is a great way to incorporate all levels of comfort. Those who want to volunteer virtually can do so while others can be in person or even in small groups. Have everyone take photos of themselves while volunteering and do a “show and tell” style virtual Zoom call at the end of the day to share big takeaways.
However you plan to celebrate National Volunteer Month and Week this year be sure to keep it easy for teams and individuals to get involved. Give everyone plenty of notice when the volunteer event/project will take place. Give employees different options of engagement (whether remotely, in-person, or time commitments of various lengths). Connect early with a nonprofit to identify their needs and keep them in the loop throughout the progress of your project or donation. Lastly, make sure to celebrate your volunteers and the amazing work you’ve done together for your community.