As we were hanging up the phone, my wife looked over at me and said "I can already see the post that's going on Monday." She knows me too well - and particularly that much of what I write about (and always in an anonymous and confidential way) is inspired by real conversations with clients, collaborators and friends.
On Saturday afternoon, we were catching up with an old friend as we were driving. He was sharing his disappointment because he had volunteered to serve as a mentor for a prison re-entry program back in March. After numerous trainings, he had yet to be assigned to work with someone. My friend doesn't work in the nonprofit sector but understood that with the pandemic, the program had moved to a virtual platform. Yet, he was still frustrated as it had been nearly 9 months since he'd applied, gone through these trainings, contacted the program leaders but hadn't heard much back. It was understandable.
By the way, this isn't the first time I've written about what I believe is the appropriate way to respond to, treat and manage volunteers. I shared some ideas that I thought were important when I wrote Volunteering For Maximum Impact Part 2 several years ago, Yet, I felt it was worth exploring the topic again through the newer lens of virtual volunteering which has become the norm - or at least the temporary norm - in this pandemic environment.
Here are three quick suggestions for responding and keeping volunteers engaged even if your capacity is limited for the moment. And ironically, they're not terribly different than they'd be in so-called normal times.