Volunteerism in a COVID-19 World

Butterfly emerging from a chrysalis
Butterfly emerging from chrysalis by Kei Rothblack from Pixabay.

COVID-19 is shaking up volunteerism in ways that would seem unthinkable just a few months ago. Many organizations cannot have their volunteers serve due to program closures or health restrictions. Other organizations have had to quickly re-design their programming and bring on volunteers to serve in new ways.

This upheaval is jarring, but it offers fertile ground for new insights if we pause to reflect.

  • In what creative ways are volunteers serving our organizations and the community?
  • What new tasks have been accomplished or new audiences reached?
  • What new sources of volunteers have emerged?
  • How are staff and volunteers re-defining their partnership and ways of working together?

We also might take a moment to consider how these observations can influence our volunteer work beyond the initial COVID-19 response.

  • In what ways are we forming relationships with new volunteers that extend beyond the COVID-19 response even if they cannot keep serving?
  • What new volunteer roles or practices are worth sustaining? Are any former volunteer roles no longer relevant?
  • What assumptions about volunteers, staff, our organization, or our community have been challenged?
  • What fresh possibilities for partnering with the community should inform our work ahead?
  • How might volunteers support our organization in crafting a way forward?

It can be hard to take a breath and reflect when so much is unclear. Yet, chances are that at least some of your work has changed more in the last three months than the last three years. It’s a prime opportunity to think intentionally about how you want your work with volunteers to evolve. Better yet, invite volunteers to do that thinking with you and co-create the future.

What are you noticing about volunteerism in your organization and community?

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