Virtual volunteering is not that common in California, but there are still some organizations that offer this service such as Hands On Bay Area. As we move towards the digital era, we have to venture into the online world when it comes to volunteering as well. There are certain organizations that have completely shifted from their normal volunteer services to solely virtual ones instead.
1. Identify the purpose of your organization
What is the purpose of this virtual volunteering program you are setting up? List down your mission and values. After all, if you want volunteers to apply for your program, they have to be aligned with the goals of the program and support the mission or vision. Volunteers want to know they are doing these tasks for a good cause, one that they support and value. One example would be for Hands On Bay Area, their aim is to create an impact on the community through education, civic engagement, wellness, and many more. Volunteers generally want to serve the community in any way they can. If you can show that their work will be appreciated and cause a positive impact on the community, you will be on your way to creating a successful virtual volunteer program.
2. Get to know the different skills of each volunteer
Every volunteer would have their own set of skills and strengths. For instance, an adult volunteer might be good at technology, while a college student might have experience in graphic designing. Get the volunteers to list down all of their skills and tasks that they are fine with doing, along with their experience and qualifications. The reason they should list out their experience and qualifications is so that it will be easier to know what kind of tasks to assign them based on what they already know and have. Furthermore, you are able to train and provide guidance for some volunteers as well, if necessary.
3. Plan out the volunteer tasks
Some of the popular virtual volunteering tasks include tutoring or mentoring, data entry, marketing and communication, editing or writing, social media management and so on. Once you have established what kind of tasks are needed to be fulfilled, you can gather and recruit volunteers, if you don’t already have a team of volunteers under your belt. Though at times there will be a one-off project or task whereby a group of volunteers should be split or formed, but since it happens occasionally, having a fixed basic task for all volunteers would be good enough.
4. Establish an organized program
With the number of tasks and volunteers in your program, it may be difficult to manage them all. One way is to create a website, especially for this program. This way, volunteers can openly check out your program and see if it would be something they are interested in. Volunteers can also directly apply on your website, which makes it easier for you to manage the applications. Before you go ahead and choose any website, ensure you are engaging with an SEO hosting provider to set up your page. You would want volunteers to be able to find your website when they are searching online. Hence, that is where SEO comes in, but we will not go into depth on what it is about. You could read more about it in this comprehensive article. Here are a couple of management tools on top of having a website that could help you manage your virtual volunteer program:
- InIt Live – a volunteer management tool that is primarily focused on events.
- Time counts – this tool offers scheduling, tracking, and email communication.
- Signup Genius – a tool like this will come in handy to handle volunteer applications.
- Better Impact – to make it easier to keep track of your volunteers with similar interests
To ensure a successful virtual volunteer program, you should also have clear descriptions and roles for your volunteers. This shows that you are organized and trustworthy, ensuring that everybody is on the same page to achieve a certain goal or mission. You should also provide all the necessary materials needed to make it understandable for your volunteers, especially since it is virtual so there can be miscommunication. Maintain consistent communication with all your volunteers through video calls or phone calls so that they will be able to reach out to you whenever they are facing any problems. Encourage feedback and suggestions from your volunteers as well.