Practices for Volunteering Virtually and Training Volunteers Virtually | Track It Forward

Here’s What We’ve Gathered from our Facebook Community- 6/1-6/12

Written by Kasey Murphy

Our Volunteer Coordinator Facebook Group is a hub of activity and advice from volunteer coordinators all over the world! This week there were three topics that got a lot of buzz, we’ve recapped them here so all the information is in one place! 

1. Best Practices for Volunteering Virtually and Training Volunteers Virtually

Facebook post saying : Hi everyone! I'm a Volunteer Engagement Advisor. Our plan was to organize events where locals and newcomers could meet, get to know each other, and change contacts for future meetings. Due to the coronavirus, we couldn't organize them in the spring, and it doesn't seem very likely that we can have them in the autumn either. Now we're planning to organize online meeting events, via Zoom probably. I'm looking for recommendations for online group exercises that would allow people get to know each other and change contacts if they feel like they'd like to meet in real life. I'm worried that it's hard to create a warm atmosphere online and to facilitate meetings that would allow people to choose whom they want to meet again and trust each other enough to share contacts. I'm very grateful if someone can help and share their ideas or experiences

Join in this discussion here

Facebook post saying: Hi all - I manage the vol corps for a large free clinic  and we are about to restart onboarding, but virtually (Zoom), only for our interpreters, who are now solely remote by phone. Anyone already doing group Zoom vol orientations? How many max can you have and still see everyone at once in gallery view? How many have felt manageable to share info with and also hear from everyone/get to know them a bit at least through intros and get a sense of personality/fitness to join the team? Group intros were always the most useful 10mins of my 1hr session back when we were on site, to get a sense of everyone... and we'd have ~25 in attendance

Have anything you would like to add? Comment here

In summary, people are wondering how to create a strong virtual volunteer community and how specifically zoom can be used in group exercises and the logistics of creating a warm, friendly atmosphere. 

Here are some helpful tips and resources from the comments:

  • Emphasize that meeting virtually is the safest thing for everyone at the moment, and communicate how you would like the virtual area to still be a safe, warm place. Have a meeting for everyone to come together and go over rules in virtual attendance and get to know each other! We think it may even be a great idea to start out with a “happy hour” or have your first session be a virtual game.
  • Have a quick overview of zoom or video call functions, how they will be used in this setting. Some people like to have everyone muted and someone does a “reaction” of raising their hand when they want to speak. 
  • Do breakout rooms of separate groups to have a topic list and break up the large group virtual call, as this can be overwhelming. 
  • One specific member of the group said “You can also use breakout rooms to separate people into groups of 2 or 3 and maybe have a topic list to choose from. Also, when signing people up to participate in the zoom, have a small questionnaire to learn of their goals of joint your group, their interests, etc...and that will help you to separate people with similar interests into the break out rooms.” 
  • Different members had different recommendations on the sizing of each zoom call. One person said no more than 10, while another said the max on zoom is 49. 

Resources 

  1. How to Train volunteers virtually webinar
  2. Adapting to Virtual presentation
  3. Tips and Tricks on Zoom
  4. Blogs and Articles
  5. Virtual Practices 

2. Nonprofit Funding 

Another topic that generated some unique feedback was a post on funding a non-profit! 

Facebook post saying: Hi, everyone! I was hoping to get some feedback on ways to fund a non-profit. I am a local VC for an “angel gown” group that provides burial gowns to local hospitals and funeral homes. While the bridal gowns are donated, there are still costs associated with everything else that goes into the boxes that we give to grieving families (and sometimes shopping costs). Is anyone familiar with ways to get funding for groups like this? We’ve done a few fundraisers but it seems like we are tapping into the same pool of people (friends, family, and other volunteers). Trying to think of ways to partner with hospital or other organizations that may want to “sponsor” what we are doing in the community. Any suggestions appreciated!

Do you have a creative suggestion? Join the discussion

We all know volunteer coordinators can be super creative and we definitely saw it in the responding comments to this post! Here were some captivating ideas from the Facebook community.

  • Make a donation box at hospital and funeral homes explaining the organization and the option to donate! We think you could even add a flyer or an information card to connect people to your online presence so they can read more about the organization and how they can help. 
  • To take away costs, try contacting or partnering with a local UPS shop, they may give you a deal on shipping or help in the shipping process in some way! 
  • Another one of our members said, “Approach a professional or student videographer/editor to donate her/his time to produce a few short videos - show the process, the families that benefit, the bittersweet emotional outcome. Then recycle that content to free ad slots on local networks. Some public TV stations offer that. You can use it for Facebook ads and GoFund me and grant applications. You need an avenue to tell the compelling stories of the families that benefit. Send the videos to companies and ask for sponsorships. Shout out and thanks publicity any companies that sponsor or contribute.”

Resources

  1. Avoid the #1 mistake in raising money
  2. Fundraising Routes 

3. Volunteer Re-entry considerations post COVID-19

While some states and organizations are unable to think about any sort of in-person volunteering post-pandemic, others may not be at as high of a risk to start reopening their volunteer programs in-person. Here are some great ideas and concerns to think of when it comes to transitioning volunteers back into this new normal of volunteering. 

Facebook post saying: Does anyone have any good resources for volunteer re-entry? Webinars, videos, articles? Thanks!

Join the discussion here. 

Facebook post saying: I am planning for phasing in volunteers onsite as we discuss reopening. I am trying to craft a definition for

Share here. 

Here’s what some coordinators have put into action and plan to do! 

  • “I’ve done three things to help me with this process so far. I’ve created a general guideline of do’s and don’ts for returning and new volunteers. I updated my Infection Control policy to reflect COVID standard precautions. And created an FAQ for specific roles. This was super helpful as it helped me look at it from the volunteer’s point of view. Once I researched and developed the documents I ran it by my teams, manager, and compliance officer for review. They had some great suggestions, so I then included those, turned it into a PDF and sent it out for distribution. It feels good to have it completed, just today!” 
  • “We sent an email to all volunteers telling them We are excited to get going & that we appreciate them more than words can express & that they are invaluable to our organization. Now that we have this year’s schedule ready we are ready for volunteer commitments! Then list the needs & the tasks. The days & times help is needed. Then ask them to please get back to you if they have an interest in or an area where they would like to serve. Add a note saying; we are in a real-time crunch so please get back to you as soon as possible. I send group emails and always italicize; this is a group email so please do not reply all.”

Resources

  1. VolunteerNow Webinar
  2. Volunteer Pro Free Masterclass
  3. Example Guidelines PDF
  4. Example Infection Control PDF

Within this topic, another post specifically focused on waivers and the act of passing around a sign-in sheet circulated. 

Facebook post saying: Hi all, in order to reduce materials which being passed between between volunteers and staff during COVID-19, we are looking to have volunteers sign waivers virtually. Does anyone have a free/low-cost recommendation for this? Thanks!

Do you use a virtual waiver system? Let us know here. 

Recommendations like these came: 

  • Use Google Forms so each volunteer can sign in on their own device. Note this may not be the best option if you are looking for a legal document. 
  • PDF via Webform - create a pdf on Webform and use Adobe Sign for members to sign the document. 
  • Print at Home Method - have volunteers print a waiver, sign it, and scan it back to you. 
  • DocuSign- use a virtual signature on this website for waivers. 

Different organizations may have different needs when it comes to software or systems that can help them eliminate the spreading of germs! 

Resources

  1. Digital Sign-In Sheet
  2. Webform
  3. Docusign