Keeping your volunteers engaged during COVID-19, and into the future!

"we love our volunteers" written over a heart shape
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The shelter’s unpaid staff are individuals who generously volunteer to invest both their time and their money into the organization on a regular basis. Volunteers are loyal, dedicated, and driven. They  bring care, comfort, and joy to the animals.  They invest in the shelter even during this time of mandated social distancing and self-quarantine, and in the midst of job shutdowns and major operational changes.

How do organizations invest in one of their most valuable resources when volunteers have been sent home to stay safe and be well during COVID-19? Below, find a dynamic list of resources to help maintain and develop volunteers during COVID-19 and into the future!

General COVID-19 resource on volunteers:

Engaging and Supporting Volunteers During COVID-19

This 30-minute webinar includes tips for staying connected to volunteers during the COVID-19 crisis. It covers innovative volunteer engagement strategies that utilize technology. The webinar also includes considerations for mitigating risk to volunteers and the organization, and most importantly, how to make the most of this potential downtime.

Specific to animal shelters:

Best Ideas to Attract, Keep, and Grow Volunteers (ASPCAPro)

This ASPCAPro library of shelter-specific volunteer management information reviews new and improved strategies to manage and maintain happy volunteers.  The library includes a two-part video series on Volunteer Management, as well as links to webinars and articles on topics including training and retaining volunteers, secrets to volunteer happiness and success, and a special section for equine volunteers!

Building and Maintaining a Volunteer Program for Animal Rescues (Humane Society of the United States)

This webinar covers the “crisis chaos spiral” caused by a lack of volunteer program structure, explores different volunteer program models, and helps shelters determine which works best for their organization.  Learn to build a strong volunteer management infrastructure, write effective and useful volunteer job descriptions, and find and keep the right people for the organization.

General volunteer management:

Don’t Just Recognize Volunteers, INVEST in Them…and Yourself

This hot topic article, which includes a seven minute “Hot Topic Listen”, introduces the concept of volunteer evolvement – defined as enabling volunteers to take on greater responsibilities within an organization by offering the opportunity for growth and new experiences.  The article also tackles a new concept of investing in volunteer leadership by providing advice for practical professional self-care and growth.

3 Expert Tips for Building Member Engagement

Volunteer engagement equals volunteer retention.  Engagement pertains to three main engagement touchpoints that speak to keeping volunteers.

How to Create a Volunteer Engagement Strategy that Actually Works!

A volunteer engagement strategy is simply a plan for keeping volunteers active and interested while avoiding volunteer burnout. It starts with orientation and continues with feedback, check-ins, and recognition.  This document includes tutorials, links, and guides for developing a strategy to keep your volunteers engaged.

5 Unappreciated Reasons Why Volunteers Quit

In order to best determine how to successfully manage a volunteer program, first understand what reasons a volunteer may have for quitting.  This article, with links to management guides, gives a comprehensive look at knowing the difference between paid and unpaid workers and their motivations.

Energize: A-Z Volunteer Management Library

A complete library of articles and book excerpts, reports and guides, relevant Web sites, and tips from professionals.  It also includes recommended books and articles in e-Volunteerism that deal with each topic.

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