Your Thoughts on Re-imagining Volunteering While We All Practice Social Distancing During COVID-19



As COVID-19 has reached pandemic levels and social distancing has become one of the best defenses against the spread of the virus, corporate volunteer leaders have found themselves searching for new ways to support their people in finding a sense of purpose, connection and impact.

It may no longer be about getting together in large groups for big team-building events or volunteering at a local shelter. Instead, it’s starting to be more about building a sense of togetherness and connection by engaging in “acts of Goodness.” These may include remote or virtual volunteer opportunities and other non-traditional ways of giving back.

At Benevity, we have the privilege of seeing first-hand what some of the world’s most iconic brands are doing when it comes to volunteering in a world where close personal contact is not always possible. Here are a few resources to get you started: 

Tell us how your organization is re-imagining your program so that you can continue to offer your people (and your communities) all the benefits that flow from volunteering?

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  • Warner Bros. typically focuses on volunteerism during the month of April. While we are unable to encourage our employees to participate in traditional volunteerism at this time, we recognize the importance of unlocking volunteer rewards dollars so that our employees who cannot afford direct donations may use “sweat equity” to support our nonprofit community. With this in mind, we expanded our definition of volunteerism this month to include cleanliness, kindness, and virtual volunteerism campaigns – allowing employees to earn $10 per hour in volunteer rewards for everyday actions that promote the health and well-being of our community. These expanded rewards may be earned daily and donated to any 501(c)3 charity. It is our hope that by expanding our definition of volunteerism during these challenging times, our employees will feel supported and empowered to take action through everyday acts of goodness.

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  • Hey Margaret,

    Another Margaret here, having an 8 letter name is like being in a special club in my opinion.   I love this idea of Sweat Equity.   I have been hearing a lot about the importance of being inclusive right now, and I think your program idea is a great example of how you can involve all your employees, regardless if they can give money or time.   I recently heard on last week's webinar that SAP employees have started to focus on how they can volunteer time to help fellow employees work while taking care of kids.  Some employees are hosting Virtual Guitar Lessons, and Paper and Pencil Games.  I have not been able to stop thinking about this example, and every time it brings a smile to my face.  

     

     

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  • One question I have been getting is now that many companies are having to furlough employees, what are ways to offer those employees engaging and respectful ways to stay involved and keep their spirits up?

     

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  • Hi Margaret!  Yes, I love that idea.  It's so heartwarming to see how our communities are coming together and getting creative.  We provided a list of activities on each of our campaigns as suggestions, but encouraged folks to share their ideas.  With each brilliant idea, we add to our list of possibilities and it has been so wonderful to see the list grow.  Nextdoor.com has a Help Map where people can self-identify as healthy and willing to run errands, walk dogs, etc. for their neighbors.  Others are participating in rainbow and bear hunts to help families stay entertained during lock-down. We're also encouraging employees to participate in advocacy campaigns.  No Kid Hungry has had several opportunities to support relief packages and the expansion of SNAP benefits, and Special Olympics just launched a Dance Challenge that promotes awareness and inclusion. 

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  • The question re: furloughs is tricky and I think the approach really depends on the existing company culture and community.  Slightly unrelated, but at my company we have a number of employees who are still working at the studio while the rest of us are able to telecommute.  We've encouraged employees to make videos and/or share photos expressing gratitude to those who are putting themselves at higher risk to keep our company running.  While this scenario is different, I would imagine that a similar gratitude campaign that underlines the value of furloughed employees may help to maintain spirits and connection during these uncertain times.

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