We are well over a year into the pandemic (are you still counting days?) and while there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, no one is really sure when we’ll return back to normal or what the “new normal” will actually be like. And while there are a million questions that still need answers, many in corporate philanthropy are discussing the Employee Volunteering Hybrid Model.
Fall, or Q3, is a normally a very busy time for corporate philanthropy or community relations initiatives. In a normal year, the weekends quickly get filled with charity galas, nonprofit walk-a-thons, and done-in-day employee volunteer projects. But as we enter our second fall in a COVID-19 world, what will employee volunteering look like?
We’ve spent this past year offering virtual volunteer opportunities for clients and their employees that were looking for an outlet, hosting community chats – quick 30 minute calls with nonprofit partners connected to the business to learn how they were adapting in a Covid world –, planning fundraisers for those in need and recently coordinating small, socially distanced volunteer events to pack food for those with the greatest need.
What we’ve learned is that Covid-19 will affect what we know of employee volunteerism, much like it has affected school learning and the typical office structure. There are some who have thrived in a remote learning and work environment and there are those who desperately want more human interaction.
The same can be said for volunteering. There are many who have enjoyed virtual volunteering – volunteering remotely in their comfort of their home (and in pjs or athletic gear) and deciding on volunteer opportunities that not only align with their personal values and interest, but also with their schedule. Then there are those who want to be in person volunteering as they not only feel more connected to their company, but also to the mission of a nonprofit – especially when they can touch, see and feel the impact they are making in their community.
To think that virtual volunteering or online activism will disappear once we reach herd immunity is a dream. Virtual volunteering will continue to live on and will allow many corporate employees (both near and far) an opportunity to feel engaged in a company’s overall corporate philanthropy efforts. There will be opportunities where those most comfortable can volunteer in person and those who want a different alternative, can still be a part corporate volunteering with an online component.
So as you plan for the coming “roaring 20s,” plan to be flexible and offer a hybrid employee volunteering model so that all employees feel engaged and comfortable in a post Covid-19 world. Both companies and the community wins when employees volunteer.