In this blog I will give an overview of the cultural and business response seen to Covid-19 volunteering and then provide a detailed list of virtual volunteering opportunities and resources you, and your staff, can tap into during the crisis.
Caught off guard
The unprecedented speed at which the Covid-19 crisis has impacted society as we know it has been frightening; with governments, businesses, communities and our own families all caught off guard. And it is now, as the stories of heart-breaking personal loss and the immediate economic impact on businesses and the ‘charitable sector’ begin to emerge, that we are starting to build a picture of the hardships to come over the next year and perhaps beyond.
However, there is a ‘wartime spirit’ that this crisis has envoked which is galvanising us more as a society than anything else many of us have seen in our lifetime. In the UK, a national call for 250,000 healthcare volunteers was exceeded twofold in 24 hours, harking back to Lord Kitchener’s recruitment drive during World War I. In the US, the private sector’s rapid rallying to build 200,000 ventilators, reminding us of the frenetic activity seen in footage of munitions factories in World War II.
Although we were ‘caught napping’, we can be uplifted by and proud of how we are reacting as a society.
So, what can businesses do to help?
At Thrive, we sit at the junction between medium/large business and the charitable sector and we’ve always believed in the power of business to change society.
If we quickly look at some numbers around this (anyone who knows me knows I love a good statistic!):
- In the UK, there are over 250,000 businesses employing 10 or more employees which in total employ over 18 million people. If even half of those adopted a typical volunteering leave policy (say 1.5 days per year per employee) that would be more than 100 million volunteering hours contributed every year
- The same stats for the USA are around 6 times this number – resulting in over 600 million volunteering hours
Given that the employee engagement benefits of employee volunteering are now well documented, and the need in the community is clear, there are incredibly strong reasons for the 1.5 million businesses cited above to deploy their ‘troops via a volunteer army to assist with the Covid-19 fight. To those who are doing this already, our hats go off to you.
But we can’t volunteer, we can’t leave our homes…
In the UK, and globally, we are all in lockdown at present and most businesses have staff working from home or furloughed, which of course makes more ‘traditional’ employee volunteering such as team building events out of the question.
In my last blog post, I commented on how forward thinking CSR Managers are quickly adapting their employee volunteering programmes to enable staff to complete ‘virtual volunteering’ and community aid volunteering. And we have been reading more and more stories of how businesses large and small are adopting this approach, as well as continuing to hear this directly from our own customers such as Linklaters solicitors, Wessex Water and Avanti Trains et al.
What we have heard from many, however, is that they are struggling to find good sources of Virtual Volunteering opportunities for their staff. So we’ve put our team to work to help find you some of the best virtual volunteering available to help boost the mental wellbeing of your employees and assist in the Covid-19 fight. Below is the list we have curated.
We’ve seen that there a number of typical broad categories that these fall into, including: Community Support, Education and Mentoring, Skills Based Volunteering and Online Research Projects.
Please use this list to kick start your employee virtual volunteering and let us know if you can recommend any more sources and we’ll repost an updated list next week.
(As always, make sure you do your own due diligence on any of the organisations below recommending them to your employees)
Let’s all do our part from home in the fight against Covid-19! #alonetogether
COMMUNITY/EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DURING COVID-19
- Assisting Blind and Low-Sighted Individuals with Everyday Tasks (Global) – https://www.bemyeyes.com
- Crisis Text Support (US) – https://www.crisistextline.org/
- Crisis Text Support – Shout (UK) – https://www.giveusashout.org/
- Telephone Based Befriending for Elderly (UK) – https://www.ageuk.org.uk/services/befriending-services/sign-up-for-telephone-befriending
- Help Combat Loneliness in Old Age with ‘Adopt a Grandparent’ (UK) – https://chdliving.co.uk/adopt-grandparent
- Essential Support for Under 25s (UK) – https://www.themix.org.uk/
- ‘Telephone Buddy’ Services for Older People (UK) – https://www.linkvisiting.org/
- Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital Covid-19 Symptom Tracker App (Global) – take part to help the fight against the disease – https://covid.joinzoe.com/
- Online Mentoring Young People at the Prince’s Trust (UK) – https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/support-our-work/volunteer/become-an-online-mentor
- School in the Cloud – Run Your Own Online Education Sessions – https://www.theschoolinthecloud.org/
- Use Your Skills to Assist 100s of United Nations Peace & Development Projects –https://www.onlinevolunteering.org/en
- Use your Professional Skills to Help Charities – https://www.catchafire.org
- Digital Volunteering for IT/Digital professionals providing help to charities on IT related projects – https://energiseresources.org/index.html
- Use Your Skills to Help Fight Cancer – https://fcancer.org/
- Use Your Language Skills to Complete Translation for Humanitarian Projects – https://translatorswithoutborders.org/
ONLINE RESEARCH PROJECTS FOR GOOD
- Online Research Projects On Every Topic Under the Sun. Thrive CSR staff love this! –https://www.zooniverse.org/projects
- Complete Online Research Projects for the The Smithsonian –https://www.si.edu/volunteer/DigitalVolunteers
- Missing Maps – Helping Map Unmapped Areas to Help Humanitarian Aid-https://www.missingmaps.org/
- Contribute to the Largest Biodiversity Related Citizen Science Project – https://ebird.org/about/
- Digital Volunteering Researching Human Rights Violations – https://decoders.amnesty.org
- Online Conservation Work – Instant Wild by Zoological Society of London –https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/zsl-instant-wild/id1290294097
- Help Create a Library of Free eBooks-https://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Gutenberg:Volunteering_for_Project_Gutenberg
- Micro-Volunteering Actions You Can Do From Home – https://www.helpfromhome.org/about-us/
AND A MORE LIGHT HEARTED ONE TO FINISH:
- Not exactly volunteering, but a fun way for your employees to interact online while doing good. Answer the quiz questions correctly and the UN World Food Programme donates rice to change lives! https://freerice.com
That’s all for now, if you have additional resources to share please comment below or email me – email@example.com