One of the things I’ve heard oft-repeated during discussions of the coronavirus is that we are all going to learn that many more jobs can be performed virtually than we previously thought possible. Volunteering is no exception.
We tend to think of volunteers as the community do-gooders who visit our offices and do manual labor like painting office walls, gardening, sorting inkind donations in clothes closets, or stacking canned goods in food pantries. In fundraising, we tend to think of volunteers in connection with our special events (which, of course, we’re not holding right now during the coronavirus scare). Those acts of volunteer service are critical—for some of us—even essential, but there are many things that volunteers can do even if they don’t want to (or can’t) come into our offices.
Here is a list of 50 things that virtual volunteers can do:
- Data entry
- Thank you notes
- Web design or updates
- Scan pictures or documents for archives
- Calls—client surveys for outcomes measures or thank you calls.
- Social media management
- Research (prices, products, policy issues or solutions)
- Benchmarking research on other nonprofits
- Bookkeeping – accounts payable or receivable
- Financial reports
- Prepare annual report
- Answer phones (you can forward a line to a volunteer)
- Grant research
- Prospect research
- Grant writing
- Proposal development (other than grants)
- Presentations (Powerpoint slides)
- Data analysis
- Data visualization
- Impact reports
- Handwritten thank you notes
- Resume reviews
- Employment candidate phone screens
- Write or design a newsletter
- Video editing
- Creating infographics
- Photoshop work (image editing like sizing for website)
- Writing fact sheets
- Writing ebooks
- Creating landing pages
- Medical coding or transcription
- Proof reading
- Electronic postings or listings (of jobs, auction items, Pinterest images, and other things)
- Travel arrangements
- Meeting minutes (use a conference phone line or transcribe meetings from a recording if the meeting isn’t virtual)
- Develop logos
- Create social media account banners
- Create a website favorite icon
- Sewing or mending
- Cake decorating
- Write/File your 990
- Project management
The key to successful management of a volunteer is pairing a volunteer’s skill with your organization’s need. Depending, of course, on the complexity of your organization’s needs and the skill of the volunteer, not all of these tasks are appropriate for all volunteers. You wouldn’t want to ask a volunteer who knew nothing about what a balance sheet is to engage in bookkeeping for you.
In general, volunteers are so much more capable than what we often empower them to do for us. As a result, many volunteers are not challenged or inspired to further engage in your organization. Some even walk away resentful, feeling like their talents were misused, unappreciated or not needed. If we take the time to get to know what the specific skills of our volunteers are and we think a little more creatively about how to accomplish the needs of our organizations, a happy virtual match can be made between a volunteer and an organization.
Image source: Bigstock.com/Yastremska Used with permission.