Money & Business Pro Tip: Build an Infrastructure for Virtual Volunteering

More volunteers are showing up virtually—and the best way to help build your forces might be by leveraging messaging platforms your members already use.

Your volunteer management has likely changed a lot since the start of COVID-19. And so have your volunteers, who have come to embrace giving their services in virtual settings.

A recent Fidelity Charitable report found that 30 percent of survey respondents engaged in virtual volunteering during the pandemic, a sharp increase from 17 percent before the pandemic.

This increasing interest in virtual volunteering could be a major opportunity for your association—but only if you figure out ways to build an effective infrastructure that supports its volunteers. One place to start? Leverage your existing channels.

What’s the Strategy?

With virtual volunteering on the rise, the best way to get people on board is to take advantage of the communities you already have.

One place to look is social media. By leveraging your existing audience, you can make your members aware of volunteer opportunities so that they can take part, no matter how big or how small the endeavor.

An effective strategy, says Addison Waters, a contributor to the Soapbox Engage blog, is to use your social media page to highlight successful volunteers.

“Use your social media pages to highlight your volunteers in action, along with their specific accomplishments,” Waters writes. “This can provide the reassurance that first-time volunteers need to make the leap and sign up for an opportunity.”

Your can also turn to your member email list or internal member community to recruit new volunteers.

Why Is It Effective?

Remote volunteering can prove a useful way to help complete important organizational tasks while also bringing additional value to members.

Wesley Carr, director of stakeholder engagement at the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society, noted earlier this year that it was important to structure the group’s remote volunteer programs in a way that offered benefits to everyone.

“We are trying to focus on what is a meaningful experience to a volunteer,” Carr said. “We’re not starting with, ‘What can the volunteer do for us?’ but, ‘What can we do for them?’”

And by mixing it with platform-driven messaging, you can potentially add value through strategies such as offering increased volunteer recognition.

What’s the Potential?

Amplifying remote volunteering opportunities on your existing channels can boost your messaging, mentoring, and advocacy game.

The National Restaurant Association, for example, leaned on grassroots engagement during the early months of the pandemic to help promote its messaging in a tangible way that ensured restaurants got the support they needed from legislators.

“Battling COVID, especially in March, a lot of them happened to be in front of their computer because restaurants were closed, and so there was a little more time for advocacy,”  said Mike Whatley, vice president of state and local affairs for the National Restaurant Association, of the efforts last year.

(mitay20/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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