Viviana Cerda
corporate social responsibility, Volunteer Experience

Best Practices for Volunteering in Person During the Covid-19 Pandemic

The global pandemic and subsequent months-long quarantine has resulted in corporations and their employees wanting to address the urgent needs of their communities while fostering human connection. In fact, many have already been making an impact remotely, through the virtual volunteering and team-building experiences available on Visit.org. But although many nonprofits benefit from these remote activities, there are a handful of organizations, including Visit.org partners, that continue to need in-person volunteering.

How, then, can companies and their employees safely participate in necessary in-person volunteer activities during a pandemic?

We spoke to Vanessa Cave-Herazo, the Community Outreach Supervisor of Second Harvest Food Bank, a nonprofit that combats hunger by delivering groceries to vulnerable populations. Here’s how her organization is using strict safety measures to adapt to the “new normal” — and what your company can expect of other in-person volunteer activities.

Practicing Basic Covid-19 Precautions Before & During In-Person Activities

Corporate teams looking to volunteer in person should expect nonprofits to strictly adhere to basic Covid-19 safety measures. As such, volunteers should expect to:

  • Have their temperature checked upon arrival
  • Properly wear a mask at all times
  • Wash their hands regularly 

To these minimum safety standards, Cave-Herazo adds that Second Harvest provides gloves for tasks that require them.

Observing Social Distancing While Volunteering

Nonprofits who are accepting in-person volunteers emphasize the importance of social distancing in preventing the spread of COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization, safe social distancing allows for a minimum of six feet between people.

Additionally, Cave-Herazo states Second Harvest has, “reduced the number of volunteers per shift to 10 to allow for physical distancing.” So, volunteers should expect nonprofits to accommodate fewer volunteers than usual. 

Participating in Essential Tasks Only

Cave-Herazo recommends that nonprofits “only work with volunteers for tasks that are essential to their missions,” in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Both organizations and volunteers must be aware that accommodating more people “requires extra work to sanitize surfaces and ensure that [everyone is] healthy and protected.” In other words, taking on non-essential volunteers could cost the nonprofit time and resources, in addition to exposing staff, beneficiaries, and the volunteers themselves to unnecessary health risks.

Having a Remote Backup Plan

While volunteering in-person is necessary in certain cases, volunteers must take into consideration their own health, as well as the public’s. As such, it is wise for corporate teams to have a backup plan that involves virtual or remote volunteering. Some examples include:

Keeping the Social Impact Spirit Alive

Regardless of whether a corporate team volunteers in person or virtually, it is essential that human resources and corporate social responsibility (CSR) leaders continue to nurture their employees’ desire to give back to their communities. Having an engaged workforce that comes together to support meaningful causes comes with a host of benefits, including:

  • Employee bonding
    When employees are collaborating over a shared cause, they build stronger connections with one another. Through meaningful activities, people from separate departments who might never meet in the office can know each other. Moreover, having happy and friendly employees leads to a better workplace culture.
  • Employee loyalty
    According to a 2016 study by Cone Communications, 75% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company. With millennials soon to make up 50 percent of the workforce, companies must invest in a robust CSR program with various volunteering activities available in order to attract talent and maintain employee loyalty.
  • Employee productivity
    Not only have psychiatrists observed that helping others is a mood booster, but certain studies have shown a correlation between happiness and productivity. When employees feel good about serving others through their company’s CSR program, it has lasting effects on their sense of purpose as well as their work output.

Visit.Org partners with a variety of nonprofits and social ventures from around the world to offer premier interactive in-person and virtual volunteering experiences. Request a demo of Visit.org’s platform and service by contacting [email protected] today.

Cover Photo courtesy of Mika Baumeister