Going from an office of 30 to an office of one can really make a dent in the staff camaraderie. Teams that used to lunch together now Zoom together, and it’s not at all the same thing. Due to COVID-19, many employees and employers are still working remotely, staring into the void and having conversations with their pets.
Well, maybe not quite that bad because the freedom and flexibility that comes with remote working cannot be ignored — but it can be quite lonely. A recent Gallup poll found 21% of remote workers cited loneliness as their most significant work from home struggle.
Research also indicates that not only is loneliness bad for the individual, it’s bad for the company. According to one study, remote workers who feel isolated are more likely to leave the company compared to employees who feel connected.
For years, volunteerism has been one of the tried and true culture comforts for many associations. Volunteering brings the team together, puts a forward face to a brand within the community, and it also does wonders for employees on a personal level. A recent study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, found that people who volunteer feel more satisfied with their lives and reported a positive impact on their health.
But it’s hard to make these connections when you’re maintaining your social distance.
That’s where virtual volunteerism steps in and bridges the gap.
Virtual volunteering has always been a thing, but now it’s the primary thing. The ultimate zig to a very zagging world, virtual volunteerism is allowing nonprofits to make their opportunities more accessible and more creative. They have found new and appealing ways to drive their missions home … literally!
For associations, virtual volunteerism allows employees to stay connected and engaged, provides a feeling of fulfillment and perspective, as well as the opportunity to serve their community from the safety of their own couch. With this new level of flexibility, you might even learn more about the members of your staff, as well grow your participation numbers for culture-focused initiatives.
Opportunities to participate in virtual projects are not hard to find. Local nonprofit organizations are utilizing their various marketing channels to promote their virtual pivot, or are reaching out to associations directly.
For those on the hunt for a great virtual volunteer activity, here are a few examples and thoughts to get your started.
Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match: If you are looking to explore opportunities in your own backyard or across the globe, VolunteerMatch, an organization dedicated to connecting causes and people, may have just what you are looking for. With over 1 million open virtual volunteer opportunities, VolunteerMatch has a bevy of volunteer roles, for almost any skillset and is well suited for groups or for one-on-one participation. Good with tech? There is a volunteer gig for you. Social media wiz? Organizations could use your mad Twitter skills. Know how to knit? Grab your needle and thread. There is no limit to what you and your team can virtually do together.
It’s fall, y’all! St. Joseph’s Home based in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a nonprofit organization that serves to create a home for children and adults with significant developmental disabilities. Normally during this time of year, in-person volunteers help the staff decorate St. Joseph’s Home for fall and Hallloween. Due to the risks associated with COVID, in-person volunteers are not possible, but decorations are still needed! Work with your team to create homemade or ship purchased fall/Halloween decorations to the residents of St. Joseph’s Home. For decoration inspiration, visit the SJH Pinterest Board. Decorations can be mailed to St. Joseph Home, Attn. Mykayla Kroeger, 10722 Wyscarver Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45241
Caring is as simple as a phone call: Capital Caring Health, a 501(c)3 in Alexandria, Virginia, provides palliative and hospice care to those with life-limiting illnesses. Due to COVID, patients and their families have been isolated from friends and loved ones. Compassionate phone visitors are needed to spend virtual time and provide check-ins with patients and their families. Visits can be as simple as listening, socializing, or reading a few pages of a good book. Click here to learn more about Capital Caring Health, or call around to a hospice center local to you to see if similar opportunities are offered.
Space, the final frontier: If you are tech savvy and want to get kids jazzed about STEM, here is a volunteer project for you. Pink Space Theory, of Woodbridge, Virginia, is in need of tech wizards to volunteer moderate STEM-focused webinars for students K-12. Pink Space Theory’s mission is to provide student-centered educational programs, which allow kids opportunities to tinker, invent and explore. If this sounds like the gig for you, click here to register to become a volunteer.
While the face and function of giving back has changed dramatically, the heart is still very much the same and is beating as strong as ever.