The Future of Virtual Volunteering
The World Of Volunteering Has Changed During The COVID Pandemic, During This Time, 56% Of Canadian Nonprofit Organizations Have Offered Some Type Of Virtual Volunteering. In BC, We Are Seeing More COVID-Related Restrictions Lifted, So Now We Can See Each Other In Personal Gatherings, We Can Dine In Restaurants Again, And We Don’t Have To Wear Masks As Often, So With Fewer Restrictions, What Is The Future Of Volunteerism?
Many nonprofit organizations rely on volunteers to support their work. These organizations faced big challenges during the pandemic such as:
- Staff layoffs
- Shorter staff hours
- Fewer donations
- Cancelled fundraising events
- Ways in which volunteers are found, screened, trained and managed.
Virtual volunteering is an excellent way for many organizations to continue to work with volunteers. For volunteers, it’s easier to give their time and talent to charities and nonprofits from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Is virtual volunteering here to stay?
A survey of 300 Canadian charities and nonprofits “found that many organizations had suspended, postponed or cancelled programs and services, or found new ways to deliver them while adhering to physical distancing guidelines. About half of respondents had transitioned some volunteer roles to remote delivery (virtual, online, phone), and usually offsite from the organization supported, but 40% have suspended volunteer work.”
The Benefits of virtual volunteering
For organizations during the pandemic they are:
- Increased flexibility for volunteers and participants
- Better technology skills for staff and volunteers
- New volunteers
For volunteers during the pandemic they are:
- Learning new technology skills
- Better life satisfaction
- Lower psychological distress
Seniors are volunteers who have seen the greatest change in their ability to volunteer, and results of a Statistics Canada survey in 2018 show that baby boomers and seniors are among Canada’s busiest volunteers. On average, they give the most volunteer hours per person. They are also the most vulnerable to COVID, and because of this, many seniors have either reduced their volunteer work or stopped completely.
What do nonprofit organizations see in the future of virtual volunteering?
- 50% believe virtual roles will return to in-person when possible
- 50% of new virtual roles will remain virtual
- 30% of new virtual roles will move to in-person roles
The survey also shows that nonprofit organizations anticipate seeing the following changes in volunteering as COVID related restrictions lift:
- New and adapted programs and roles
- More volunteers with more technology ability needed
- Volunteers with different skills needed
We’ll see the return of seniors to volunteer roles and this is an important part of who does vital volunteering and the time given to volunteering hours. Some will have developed technology skills during the pandemic just to remain connected with their families and community (zoom, email, internet skills).
It is still early days as volunteering opportunities increase, and so we’ll have to stay tuned to see how many volunteer roles actually stay virtual and how many will stay in-person. There’s no doubt that virtual volunteering changed the way in which volunteers are able to reach out to their communities and enjoy the benefits of what it means to be a volunteer.
How can you volunteer?
To see virtual and in-person volunteer opportunities, or if you are a nonprofit in the Tri-Cities looking for volunteers, please visit Community Volunteer Connections. Your registration includes Volunteer Voice our weekly volunteer opportunity newsletter..
Coordinator of Volunteer Resources