Everyone wants to give. But given the realities of social distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic, even the most charitable among us have to have reservations about getting our hands dirty. The solution: creating virtual volunteer programs.
You don’t have to be a nonprofit to create virtual volunteer programs and make a difference. In fact, virtual volunteering can be more convenient with for-profit companies who need an effective way to give back. Below, we’ll answer some of the most pressing questions about virtual volunteer programs. We’ll also talk about how you can easily create a few of your own.
What is Virtual Volunteering?
Virtual volunteering is any activity or effort you can give charitably—and remotely. Just as the world has gotten used to Zoom meetings and virtual conferences, it’s entirely possible to get your business set up on a platform for creating virtual volunteering opportunities.
Nonprofit organizations might use both in-person and virtual volunteering opportunities. But if you find the obstacles associated with in-person events (handling logistics, scheduling, taking time out of work, etc.), you can use virtual volunteering to dip your toes in the water. Consider all that we offer at Millie:
- Creating custom volunteer events. Using our platform, you can do everything from planning out different schedule shifts to syncing your virtual volunteering opportunities with employee calendars.
- Searching readily available volunteer opportunities. If you simply want to “plug in” and begin volunteering virtually, you can browse the Millie database to see which opportunities line up with your schedule.
- Measuring impact. How many hours did your team contribute? How many people reached out through their internet connection to create a real community impact? Platforms like Millie make it possible for you to find bottom-line numbers that help you communicate the impact of your volunteer program.
Examples of Virtual Volunteering
- Tying blankets for newborns in needs
- Translating for refugees
- Phone banking for food access resources
- Designing graphics / websites
- Captioning a video
Why Create a “Virtual Volunteer” Program?
This leads to our next question: why? There are plenty of reasons you might want to create a virtual volunteer program, even without the coronavirus having an impact. For example, creating virtual volunteer programs help connect employees remotely and those who have a disability and can’t physically get to the event. But putting aside the benefits of social distancing, let’s look at the reasons you might consider starting your charitable/volunteering efforts through your internet connection first:
- Increased participation. Whether you view virtual volunteering as a team-building activity or just want more people to help, virtual volunteering makes it easy for people to participate. It reduces or even eliminates logistical problems. People with issues like social anxiety may even find it easier to pitch in.
- Easy tracking. When you run a virtual event, it’s easy for everyone to sign up from the employee side. On the company side, you can easily track your effectiveness. How many people showed up to virtually volunteer? How many online volunteers were you able to bring?
- Consolidating your information. When you work through one charitable platform, you can view your company’s entire statistics at a glance. The same is true of employees who want to check up on the current status of one of the volunteering projects. Net result? You’ll create more engagement because more employees will feel connected to each project.
How to Transition Your Company to Virtual Volunteering?
If you previously had volunteering events, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way you had to think about volunteering events, it can be difficult to make a transition. What specific steps can you take to transition your company?
First, set your parameters. Know exactly what sorts of charities you want to give back to. For example, are you looking to donate to mental health causes? Does your company excel at programs that benefit disadvantaged high school students? Define exactly what it is you want to accomplish.
Next, establish the platform through which you’ll start volunteering. At Millie, you can browse existing volunteer opportunities or create your own. Since you took the first step of establishing what it was you wanted to do here.
You might also consider microvolunteering. Setting a low budget for virtual volunteering is a great way to dip your toes in the water without fully committing to a giant chunk of your budget. It will even mean you can test different events to see which one has the greatest impact on your community.
How Can I Recognize Volunteers Virtually?
Just as it’s possible to volunteer over an internet connection, you’d be amazed at what you can do to encourage your volunteers virtually. After all, if your employee volunteer group is taking time out of their day to give back, it doesn’t hurt to recognize their efforts.
One method you can use is employee donation matching. To build a culture of giving, you can take the first step. Send out an announcement that, along with your virtual volunteer program, you’ll match employee donations. Another option is charitable gifting dollars to your employees that volunteer to give to causes that they care about.
The good news is that you don’t need a massive budget to make this work. Millie corporate matching options can work for smaller company budgets just as easily as they can for huge corporations. On the back end, our online platform will broadcast how many dollars have been matched so far, letting each employee review the full extent of their impact.
How to Create Your Own Virtual Volunteer Programs
All of this information is well and good, but what about putting it into action? How do you create a legitimate remote volunteer plan that will have your employees ready to give their time and money for a worthy cause? And how can you make it all work within the parameters you set?
Here are a few key steps:
- Sign up for a charitable platform. This is the easiest way to start out. At Millie, you can sign up for an account and immediately onboard your company. Whether you’re an employee, a nonprofit, or an individual looking to make a contribution to charity, you’ll find it easy to navigate and get set up and you can immediately begin looking for giving opportunities.
Choose whether you’ll browse through or create a volunteering event. You can create your own events through Millie. But you can also search through existing events to “shortcut” your way into having your team of employees immediately give back to the community.