Navigating The Changing Volunteering Landscape In A Post-Covid World
What is volunteering?
Volunteering is one of the biggest social impact tools we have in today’s world. As the word suggests, it is when a person or a community voluntarily picks up causes close to them and makes an effort to bring about a change. Volunteering is essentially a form of community service and is open for one and all to participate. By exchanging and sharing your skills and expertise with the world, be it in areas of education, medicine, content writing, research and development, among many others, it allows and invites the world as a whole to become part of the change and not be mere bystanders.
Volunteering is one of the most powerful methods for social impact because it highlights that the power of two or more is far greater than the power of one.
How has volunteering changed post-covid?
Based on pre-covid data by the United Nations Volunteer programme, over a billion people volunteer every year, either part-time or full-time. While there’s no clear data to show the spike in volunteering since covid, it is evident that covid-19 changed something in all of us. We got to see many backstage heroes bringing people together in hope, shaping societies and responding to the needs of communities at large. Covid-19 was a testament to our collective human resilience in the face of struggle.
The last two years saw a surge in volunteerism with many people wanting to give back to their communities in one way or another. We have seen a drastic shift in the modes of volunteering with many corporates/ NGOs shifting to digital platforms with increased participation from communities. With many of us forced to spend time indoors, most modes of volunteering went through a massive digital overhaul to make community contribution more accessible.
What to expect?
More virtual volunteering programs -
With more people wanting to continue with their current work-from-home setups, virtual volunteering (where people volunteer their time and skills on a virtual platform) options are on the rise. Many corporates have paved the way by setting virtual opportunities to work via phones or tablets and have facilitated an inclusive culture of volunteering.
Skill-based volunteering -
Skill-based volunteering is one of the most common forms of volunteering today, allowing anyone to volunteer from any part of the world without needing a physical space and presence. From web design, marketing, fundraising, app development, social media promotions, video creation, to data entry, copywriting, blogging and other skills, there are opportunities galore when it comes to virtual volunteering programs. With a flexible set-up like this, more and more professionals can contribute to society through convenient volunteering programs.
Minority inclusion and representation -
Covid-18 shone light on many of our own biases and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on minority communities. From racial biases to poverty and class disparity, the reality has been much harsher on certain strata of society. In light of this, companies have a huge responsibility in terms of representation and are aligning their volunteer programs with pertinent causes that are personal to their employees and immediate community. The onus is heavy on organizations to better represent minorities and have customized programs that cater to their needs, while supporting other global causes like environmental, educational and social stability.
Affordability & cost-effectiveness -
With the majority of volunteering efforts having moved online, a lot of companies and nonprofits have jumped on the budget express with much less spending and more output. Since the options for volunteering are plenty, it has given more incentive for employees to participate and for companies to save money at the same time.
Post-covid, the general framework for volunteering is not as limited as before. With virtual volunteering options aplenty, volunteering has become more accessible and giving back to the community has newer meanings and interpretations. In just two years since the pandemic, several companies and NGOs have adopted technology and are creating inclusive spaces for people to volunteer in the midst of a global crisis. While vaccine equity and distribution continues to be a struggle at one end, NGOs, corporates and leaders of volunteer programs are focused on adapting to the “new normal” with innovative, inclusive options for volunteering.
By participating in virtual volunteering activities, NGOs and companies are making the act of giving more accessible all through the year. Due to such flexibility with virtual solutions, people can choose how, when and where to participate and this in turn harbors a positive mindspace and in turn a positive work environment.
Want to volunteer?
Here’s how you can give back to your community through volunteering -
When it comes to volunteering, the need is so large that there is no dearth of opportunities. Most local communities and places have their own volunteering efforts that you can participate in. Additionally, if there is a specific cause you are passionate about, a little research online will guide you to the right organizations where you can contribute financially, or through your skills and other contributions.
Share your skills with the world -
Sharing your skills with a community is one of the best ways you can give back to your community. With advancements in tech today and a range of virtual volunteering systems in place, the job is already half done and it’s just a matter of finding the right place and the right time to get started. NGOs and virtual volunteering platforms have no dearth of options when it comes to serving the company. From data entry, marketing and communication, fundraising, handling kitchens, financial planning, impact assessment, to gardening and teaching, the options are plenty. You get to pick and choose your cause and the way you wish to contribute depending on what you are skilled at. Even if you cannot be at a particular space physically, there are many ways you can share your skills through virtual meetings and one on one sessions.
Enroll in a mentorship program -
Many NGOs like to have mentorship programs as their core method for creating an impact in society. You can mentor anyone in your area of expertise by approaching mentorship in a structured and programmatic manner. Through the simple act of mentoring someone in need like teaching them something new, being more of a listener than a talker, to sharing your life experiences and guiding under-privileged communities through their struggles, you are already creating a world of impact in their lives. These days, NGOs have multiple mentorship programs where you can set aside an hour a day to mentor someone and talk them through the struggles and challenges they face. Aside from that, you can take it a step further by upskilling them in areas that you excel at and guide them through the process of learning. Whether you’re volunteering at an orphanage, old age home, a school or a children’s home, helping people out through a mentorship role is one of the most powerful and rewarding social impact missions.
Help your local community -
This is one of the easiest ways you can give back to your community because when it comes to a community set-up, the options for volunteering are instantly thrown open. Every community has a mission or a goal that they strive to achieve. With your existing skill set there is a lot that you can do to contribute and better their cause as they strive toward creating an equitable community and society. From initiating cleaning drives, to enriching the flora and fauna of a place in order to restore ecological balance, to partnering with your local community on skill development and skill sharing, setting up community kitchens, contributing mental health support and other mentorship programs, your options for volunteering are plenty. If you are a self-starter, you can make a difference in your community single-handedly as you will notice people coming together to support your good will. Additionally, you can also join organizations committed to causes that are close to your heart and find ways to contribute through community service.
Run a clean-drive -
Data shows a staggering figure in just the year 2019-2020 where India alone generated an annual plastic consumption and waste of over 34,69,780 tonnes. Without collective community effort through active participation and awareness, we will not be able to see these figures reducing. With global warming and drastic climate change at the highest it’s ever been, we must rally together through deliberate, mindful acts, as well as community contribution to bring about a change. To bring about an impact, reduce waste, and envision a clean and green India, there are several NGOs and unregistered efforts that have a single-minded focus. From climate change, empowering garbage collectors through better sanitation, law and policy making, as well as awareness drives to bring about this change, there are ample opportunities for us to become changemakers in our own stead.
Set up a fundraiser -
Nothing rings truer than the saying that change begins at home. If you look all around you, there are several communities, causes, individuals and families in dire need of financial support and literacy. Many of us may find it difficult to allocate time and effort in doing on-ground activities, but the best part about living in a digital age is that you don’t necessarily have to be on the ground to participate. Pick a cause close to your heart, be it through an NGO, or for an individual person or persons, and empower communities by offering support with fundraising. When we say support, it could be through offline fundraising activities as well as online solutions.
Today, there is no dearth of crowdfunding opportunities and websites that have simplified fundraising and are offering immense financial support to people and communities. Fundraising runs on the principle that every contribution counts and there is no such thing as a big or a small contribution. This is one of the most unique spaces where people can come together and contribute whatever they can and witness the power of giving unfold in front of their eyes.
Volunteering merchandise - The Power of a T-shirt
What’s in a t-shirt one might say, but the power of a t-shirt is much higher when it’s done as a collective. T-shirts are not just to brand a particular cause or state one’s views, but t-shirts subconsciously bring communities together and make them feel part of one big giant family. Not just that, t-shirts are a great way to help people identify the causes you stand for and give people something to remember. They are great conversation starters and have the potential to be one of the most powerful tools that can bring people together, make them curious, and ultimately start a conversation on the need to bring about a change.
Got a cause close to your heart? Our custom t-shirt range is a great place for you to begin wearing a cause on your sleeve. If you’ve run out of creative ideas, check out our exclusive range of t-shirts that promote causes close to you. Please explore our collections including ones related to Autism Collection, Gender Equality Collection, Mental Health Awareness Collection, Anxiety Awareness Collection and Earth Day Collections. Gubbacci also has a range of T-Shirts for Volunteer teams. Volunteers wearing a volunteer T-Shirt will help increase visibility of the event, make it look professional, create a sense of unity & belonging among volunteers and is the best way to say thank you to your volunteer team. Please consider our Volunteer T-Shirt Collection.