This year’s National Volunteer Week in Canada is April 24-30, 2022.
Volunteerism is not immune to the effects of the pandemic, and as you will read, we may need to rethink some of our approaches to the incredibly important folks who volunteer in support of many of our organizations.
This month’s blog post is from Volunteer Victoria’s ED, Lisa Mort-Putland. Here’s what Lisa has for us:
“We were curious! Volunteer Victoria wanted to learn more about the impacts of COVID on seniors who volunteer in Greater Victoria and the supports that could make volunteer experiences easier, safer, and better as the pandemic continues to affect our lives.
246+ volunteers and people who had never volunteered before completed a survey or connected with our team of skilled volunteers to complete a phone, online, or in-person interview this spring and here are some of the highlights from our snapshot study.
In previous surveys we always heard powerful stories about the ways that volunteers connect to people, places, projects, and causes. This year, we also heard powerful messages about the things volunteers want and do not want as they rebound from the pandemic.
If we were to capture all the feedback in a single sentence, it would be this: volunteers have revisited their needs and priorities and if an organization wants to keep volunteers engaged then they probably need to revisit their priorities too!
As you might expect safety was top of the list of needs – with volunteers wanting clear directions, boundaries, and the same high-quality training and safety rules as staff members. But volunteers also acknowledged that their time away from volunteering made them re-think their commitment to the organizations that they once volunteered with. As one volunteer noted: “If it’s not worth my time I might as well stay home and read a book.”
Volunteers are very aware of the digital divide that the pandemic has created and are concerned about the barriers that will exist in organizations for volunteers who cannot use or access technology. Another volunteer noted, “Seniors did not live this long by being stupid. Just because I cannot use technology does not mean I am not capable.”
76% of volunteers reported that they plan to return to in-person volunteering when it is safe, but that still leaves many volunteers looking to stay engaged through no contact volunteering options. While volunteers may not be going back to where they were, there are lots of new opportunities on the path forward. For more information and tips from volunteers please visit https://volunteervictoria.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Senior-Volunteering-Project-screen.pdf or watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KPo1kUQ0po&t=320s.”
Lisa Mort-Putland, B.A., M.P.A
There you have it. Please feel free to get in touch with Lisa, or your local volunteer organizations to continue this important discussion.