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COVID-19 Update For Organisations

What your organisation should consider

COVID-19 has brought with it a new set of challenges and a level of uncertainty. Many community organisations are facing tough times including how to continue to meet the ongoing needs of those who rely on services whilst safeguarding the health and safety of volunteers.

As the impacts of COVID-19 are felt throughout the community, you may need to boost your volunteer network in order to meet intensifying demand. For others, it might be scaling back until the time is right.

We’re here to assist you during these challenging times. Below are some hints and tips to consider when determining how to manage existing and prospective volunteers depending on how your organisation is responding during this time.

As with your paid staff, every measure needs to be taken to safeguard the health and safety of your volunteers. This includes staying abreast of, sharing and reinforcing the latest information provided by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Volunteering Australia has guidelines as to how you can safeguard your volunteers.

You can continue to recruit for volunteers on SEEK Volunteer however we suggest you update your listing to state that all volunteer opportunities meet all current public health guidelines.

Many services will have increased demand as we start to see the impacts of COVID-19 on the vulnerable, elderly or disadvantaged. To encourage participation, you will need to demonstrate that the volunteering opportunity complies with current health guidelines. If this sounds like you, the first thing you need to do is to list your opportunity on SEEK Volunteer and select the newly created category COVID-19. SEEK Volunteer will then highlight all COVID-19 volunteering opportunities to drive awareness.

Please contact us at [email protected] so we are aware of your needs and can support you during this time.

If your organisation is temporarily suspending all volunteer recruitment, you will need to remove any active listings on SEEK Volunteer so that people can no longer apply. However, before you do this, perhaps consider whether the volunteer opportunity can be done online or remotely.

Whilst you are temporarily suspending your operations, don’t forget to keep engaging with your volunteer network. Ideas include sharing good news stories from your organisation and keeping them informed when you plan to resume.

Practical considerations

To make sure you are well informed to make the right decisions, and keep your volunteers safe, read this useful guide from ‘Volunteering Australia - Responding to a pandemic’ or contact your State Peak Body or local VRC.

SEEK Volunteer has recently introduced an ‘In Demand’ feature that lists opportunities at the top of the search results, exposing it to more potential volunteers. If you have an opportunity that needs a large number of volunteers (15+) or have an imminent program or event that needs volunteers, please contact us to see how we can help. You can email us at [email protected]. Please note this feature will only be used to promote State based opportunities.

Virtual volunteering

The world looks a little different at the moment. But just because everything feels different, doesn’t mean we can’t find new ways to do what needs to be done. Take volunteering for example. Yes, many face-to-face volunteering opportunities are currently off the table, but have you considered virtual volunteering? Not only could virtual volunteering help your organisation continue its important work, but it also provides a platform to keep your volunteer network engaged.

It’s time to adapt and get innovative. A quick look on SEEK Volunteer reveals hundreds of remote or online volunteering opportunities. Here are some ideas for inspiration:

Could your website do with a refresh? Would you like to build a stronger presence on social media? Would it be helpful to break the back of an admin project? Or get some data analysed? Some skilled professionals may have more time on their hands. These people often volunteer their skills as a way to keep busy and to have projects to add to their resume. By engaging skilled volunteers, the benefits flow both ways.

Online mentoring is another great option for remote volunteering. One organisation doing just that is Beacon Foundation who use online mentors to help young women navigate life after school. Typically, volunteers talk to small groups of young women via webcam around work-readiness, teamwork and resilience whilst offering guidance on career options. A similar approach could easily be adopted organisations who work in migrant services, education and training, health or wider community services.

We all know that a good grant application doesn’t happen overnight. And we know that a good grant application can help you access more funding. So, why wait?

Social isolation is challenging, but for some, it will be unbearable. If you are in the Aged Care sector, or perhaps migrant services and health, why not look into ways in which volunteers could connect with people via video calls, online games such as chess or Scrabble or even just through an old-fashioned letter. The need to keep people connected whilst isolated will be greater than ever.

One positive to self-isolation is the time people will have to indulge in hobbies such a knitting and sewing. Perhaps you are an animal shelter and need new blankets as winter approaches? Or maybe you are a welfare agency looking for toys to give to disadvantaged children? By accepting home made goods for your organisation, not only could you be fulfilling an operational need but also giving somebody in self-isolation a bit of purpose in their day too.

With more and more people looking for ways to help others, why not find a way to capitalise on this good will and keep your important work moving. For more tips and advice on how virtual volunteering could help your organisation at this time, contact our team at [email protected].