Over the past two weeks the coronavirus has canceled tens of thousands of volunteer activities taking place all over the country. Libraries are closed, Girl Scout Troops are staying home, face-to-face mentoring programs are on hold, and annual nonprofit community gatherings in cities across America are in limbo. Ninety-three percent of the 130,000 nonprofits we serve are already reporting that COVID-19 social distancing restrictions and fear have left them without the volunteers they need.
We know that millions of Americans want to be helpful right now, but aren’t sure where, or how, to do that. At VolunteerMatch bringing good people together to serve is what we do, but we have never been through anything like this before, so we are pulling together with our community to use this moment to learn from one another, lean on one another, and ultimately, to grow and become stronger with the help of one another.
We’re taking a human-centered design approach to focus our work on the challenges that coronavirus presents to our communities. We are listening to all our stakeholders — volunteers, nonprofit and business leaders, government representatives, and everyone who plays a part in supporting the impact ecosystem — to inform our decision-making and solutioneering.
We are thinking cross-sector and both short- and long- term, because we recognize that the most important action we can take right now is to support the resiliency and recovery of the thousands of nonprofits who are already being adversely impacted, along with their vulnerable constituents, by this public health crisis.
Collecting And Analyzing Stakeholder Voice
We created a virtual listening post and collected quantitative and qualitative responses from over a thousand voices to understand their most critical needs, fears and hopes during this time of uncertainty. From this, we queued up a virtual Interactive Discussion, which enabled us to further gather input from our community and begin the work of capability building and practice sharing in the face of this new reality. And, this is just the beginning.
Creating Community & Facilitating Cross-Sector Dialogue
In the spirit of ongoing collaboration, we’ve created a virtual community on Slack to engage representatives across sectors in sharing support and resources, and to help us continue to crowdsource and organize the wisdom of our community.
Over 100 individuals are now participating from the social impact community, sharing practices and ideas, asking questions, and continuing to deepen our collective understanding of how we can best inspire, support and help each other, peer-to-peer. We’re bringing people together to come up with meaningful and collaborative solutions that serve us all now and into the future.
Making It Easier For Volunteers to Stay Involved
VolunteerMatch has launched a dedicated volunteering portal for virtual and local volunteering opportunities with nonprofits around the country to aid communities impacted by the coronavirus.
On the Help with COVID-19 opportunities portal, you can contribute your time and energy to causes that are directly supporting communities in need at this time through a growing inventory of COVID-19-related volunteering opportunities. Currently, causes are recruiting for more than 46,000 volunteers virtually and nearly 27,000 volunteers for local opportunities all across the United States.
Beyond that, if you are one of the many people working from home, sheltering in place, self-quarantined, or otherwise prevented from volunteering in person, you can still be involved in serving your communities. With a comprehensive database of virtual volunteering opportunities, VolunteerMatch currently lists virtual opportunities that need nearly 700,000 virtual volunteers across the U.S., and listings can be refined by nonprofit, group-friendliness, and 29 different cause areas, among other filters.
We’re also continuing to enhance our features and portal display, to ensure that nonprofits get the help they most urgently need by optimizing listings categorized as “virtual” and “COVID-19-related” so that they are easy to search and find.
Our Commitment Is Stronger Than Ever
VolunteerMatch is committed to the resiliency and recovery of our nonprofits and the constituents we serve. We will continue to work to enhance the resources and tools we provide based on what we are learning from the field. We can’t solve our challenges alone. But, by embracing the spirit of collaboration and working together, we are confident we will weather this difficult time and emerge stronger.
- Find and contribute helpful information on our COVID-19 Resource Hub
- Be a part of the COVID-19 response by volunteering, sharing, or creating opportunities via the COVID-19 Volunteering Hub
- Become a Virtual Volunteer or create new Virtual Volunteering opportunities
- Join the VolunteerMatch Collaborative community on Slack to share ideas, best practices and stay connected
- Watch our recent webinar on how we can all best prepare for the social, environmental, economic shifts associated with concerns around COVID-19
Original contribution by Greg Baldwin, CEO, VolunteerMatch.
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