Engaging Volunteers in a Digital World

There’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel with the COVID-19 pandemic, with more and more people getting vaccinated every day. But until that time finally arrives, we’re still living in a very digital world, meaning it’s difficult for us to come together for many of the traditional kinds of activities and events we’d like to have with our alumni. This includes volunteer activities.

While there are many challenges associated with engaging volunteers in a primarily digital world at the moment, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! There are plenty of steps you can take to keep your base of volunteers engaged and involved, even if it’s to a lesser degree at the moment due to our virtual environments.

Here’s a quick list of some of the steps you can take to keep your volunteers engaged while we’re still not able to gather in person for larger-scale activities:

  • Sending thank you's: Even if there’s not a lot for your volunteers to do at the moment, you can still send out thank you's or other messages so they know they’re appreciated and that you’re thinking of them. Simple messages of gratitude can encourage your alumni volunteers to stay plugged in and to come back to volunteer activities as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Virtual events: It’s understandable if a lot of people are a bit “virtualed out” at this point, more than a year into the pandemic, but it can still be a great opportunity for people to come together, stay connected and have a good time. You could do a trivia night, for example, and have volunteers submit the questions and run the event. Or do a virtual happy hour or social--a low-stress activity that doesn’t require a lot of advance planning.
  • Prep opportunities for next school year: There’s starting to be more positivity about what things will look like around the country for next school year. You might consider starting to prepare some volunteer activities and events, just to give yourself and your volunteers something to look forward to. It’s important to still stay as flexible with plans as possible as we can’t say for certain what the world will look like in five or six months, but you can be certain people are going to want to get together and have events as soon as it’s safe to do so.

What strategies have you been using to keep volunteers engaged during this mostly-virtual last year? 

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