1. Find out if your organisation has a BCP (Business Continuity Plan) and see if volunteers are included in it. If so, this will give you a starting point.
2. Communicate with your volunteers. Communication is key, even if it’s “things are changing quickly and we will have more information soon.” Guidance you can share right away includes:
3. Prioritise volunteer and client safety. If continuing interaction between volunteers and vulnerable clients, take all recommended precautions, including gloves, masks, frequent hand-washing, etc.
4. Include volunteers in decision-making around policies affecting them. Having volunteers at the table will ensure that their concerns are heard and addressed.
5. Consider if and how volunteers can work remotely. As many workplaces consider temporary office closures, it’s important to think about how this could affect your volunteers and if there is work they can complete for your organisation while the office is closed.
6. Plan for a volunteer workforce shortage.
7. Postpone large-scale volunteer events or trainings. Social distancing by avoiding crowds and events helps “flatten the curve” of the virus.
8. Understand that COVID-19 and the response effects people in multiple ways.
This list is far from comprehensive, but is meant to give you a starting point as you look at your COVID-19 response and how it will affect your organisation and volunteer programme. Volunteering Northland is currently assessing our own upcoming events (First Aid training and Governance Bites) and volunteer engagement plans and will be communicating updates as decisions are made. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will provide information and share resources to help us all better understand how to move forward.
Adapted from the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration, 2020