volunteer re-engagement

Now as the vaccine rolls out across cities, states, and further afield, we may have that long hoped for normality cresting the horizon.

It’s too early to think we are out of the storm completely. But as the Coronavirus appears on the backfoot, it’s a good moment to take stock of the damage it’s done and consider the financial opportunities of volunteer re-engagement and new funding currently available.

The challenge of human resources: volunteer re-engagement

A recent study by Fidelity Charitable – the USA’s biggest grantmaking public charity – reported that two out of three volunteers had reduced or halted their participation at a nonprofit which before COVID-19 , they’d previously offered their time to.

The good news was that the survey indicated seventy-five-percent of those questioned who stated they had pulled away from their pre-pandemic volunteering roles, were aiming to get back to the grindstone, once life returned to normality. 

A renewed focus on wellbeing and retention for volunteer re-engagement

A pre-pandemic study by the Urban Institute – a research center based in Washington DC – also found eighty percent of nonprofits relied on volunteers, but did not have the knowledge to engage and adequately manage them effectively.

This shortfall of volunteer management is an area worth attention now, especially in light of the two thirds of volunteers having stepped away from their previous nonprofit duties. I’ve added an extra few cost-free ideas to help manage volunteer re-engagement at this critical time: 

  • Formal volunteer retraining: Having a system created to help guide the volunteer into the ways and methods of your nonprofit. A booklet or PDF created to help inform the volunteer on the general background and vision of your organization. Plus giving them an idea of where volunteers can constantly make the most impact. 
  • Being specific about the individual: Sending the volunteer general emails about donor drives which go out to everyone, undermines the personal relationship between your nonprofit and those working within it. Make sure the volunteer communications are something unique and personalized to them, avoiding the generic. A small personal touch is an appropriate reminder of how valued they are. 
  • Teamwork and vision: Giving the volunteer a chance to feel fully engaged as part of something bigger. 

Renewed efforts should be taken to keep individual volunteers included and valued within the whole team now. Try implementing paid/non-paid staff brainstorming meetings/Zoom calls. They offer the volunteer a sense of friendship alongside their service. This is a great way to ensure long term volunteer re-engagement and loyalty to the nonprofits vision.

Rebuilding the financial base: resource opportunities for post-pandemic grants

The pain of the pandemic has been crippling to many. Reading the headlines it seems that the government has stepped in to help the nonprofits sector survive. But many cross state surveys indicate governmental funding has been no more than one fifth of overall need.

A typical example comes from Calnonprofits, the association for Californian nonprofits. 

Their survey reported that only thirteen percent of charities they contacted had raised twenty percent or more from government pandemic aid during this difficult period. That’s barely one in ten.

Fortunately there are other multiple opportunities for support both inside and outside the US to explore. Here’s a useful list of resources and access points to help your nonprofit today.

Grant opportunities for U.S. based nonprofits

Global funding (including USA)

Although there is some light at the end of the tunnel, there is still a way to go. So maximizing our support networks now – in both human and financial terms – is crucial. 

It is my belief, that the post-pandemic landscape may well be as difficult as the current one, regardless of how relieved we all feel upon seeing those sunlit uplands, coming into view. 

Nonprofit Sustainability

Nick Wood

Nick Wood

Freelance Journalist & Author
Nick Wood is a freelance journalist and author. Specializing in the nonprofit Industry, digital media, and the travel sector. With years of experience working within the industry on the ground in the UK and further afield. Founder of light-on-light, a project addressing the stories of individuals and organisations making a positive and intentional impact on society. For enquiries, nickjohnwood@mail.com.