Since the onset of strict social distancing measures in March, many charities and community groups have seen an unprecedented increase in demand for their services - along with a reduction in face-to-face volunteering as individuals and families are forced to self-isolate or care for others.
With the employee volunteering schemes that usually peak during the spring and summer also facing massive disruption, we knew we needed to help employees switch their approach.
“54% of charities said that they needed the help of remote volunteers to continue to support vulnerable people”
We sent out a survey to the good causes and charities registered on Neighbourly which, with almost 1,000 responses, has highlighted a real need for remote employee volunteering.
80% of the front-line charities and community groups in our survey, which included food banks, homeless charities and disability groups, said the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing has forced them to adapt their services.
With that, 54% said that they felt they could use the help of remote volunteers to continue to support both vulnerable people and with the running of services in the coming weeks and months.
“Remote volunteering presents a major opportunity for our hospice to recruit younger members in the community who have vital digital knowledge”
Jon Devlin, Volunteer Co-ordinator at Greenwich and Bexley Hospice says: “We have 700 patients, and many of our volunteers are aged over 60, so are currently unable to provide their usual support. Remote volunteering presents a major opportunity for our hospice to recruit younger members in the community who have vital digital knowledge, time on their hands, and are looking for ways to make a difference.”
Volunteering from home
Large corporate organisations, with highly-skilled and experienced employees based across the UK, are in a unique position to assist charities whose senior teams have had to divert away from tasks like charity finances, fundraising and marketing, to focus on essential support work for vulnerable groups.
“By matching relevant skills with charities’ need, businesses can support essential services at a time when they are needed more than ever”
Steve Butterworth, CEO of Neighbourly, explains: “We all have a crucial role to play as we start to rebuild from the crisis while continuing to help people in need. By channelling volunteer skills into local organisations who are already doing vital work, we can help to ensure that the right support reaches the most at-risk people.
“Volunteering from home offers a safe and flexible way for people to make a big difference. Employees can support good causes wherever they might be based – all while at home, fitting around other time commitments. By matching relevant skills with charities’ need, businesses can support essential services at a time when they are needed more than ever.
“It’s not just charities who will benefit. Volunteering has important wellbeing benefits for the volunteers themselves, and helps people feel engaged and rewarded – all of which is particularly important in helping to stay connected and motivated while working from home, or furloughed.”
So with next week’s Volunteer’s Week marking one of the peak weeks of employee volunteering in the yearly calendar - we’ve been working with our partners Danone, Heineken and The Football Association to help them adapt their volunteering schemes, enabling their employees to offer skill sharing and practical remote support to good causes local to them.
“We have a passionate and motivated group of ‘Danoners’ who are eager to volunteer and offer support and advice”
This means employees will be helping charities with everything from website and financial management, fundraising and social media, to befriending and letter writing to isolated people - all from home.
Chris Hillman, Head of Sustainability & Social Innovation at Danone, adds: “At Danone we’re committed to supporting our community, and throughout this crisis it has never been more important to help charities. Not just with donations of money or food, but also by donating time and skills to help others.
“We have a passionate and motivated group of ‘Danoners’ who are eager to volunteer and offer support and advice. We’re proud to team up with Neighbourly to support charities through virtual volunteering.”
Click here to find out how Neighbourly matches businesses’ volunteer skills with its network of vetted good causes. Neighbourly is committed to creating measurable outcomes through remote volunteering, with those who give their time and skills able to see a real-time positive impact.