Protecting Volunteers During the Pandemic

Nonprofits are holding back on some services, limiting employee travel, expanding work-at-home opportunities, and taking other steps to protect workers and volunteers as the threat of the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide.Giving Center, a 501(c)3 non profit charity, for example, is working to expand the number of its volunteers who have access to technology that allows them to work from home.”Our first and most immediate concern is our volunteers,” said Bethany Davis, a supervisor at Giving Center.

The charity, which operates nationwide, hasn’t imposed a travel ban, but she added that the virus is a “developing situation” and that “some of those decisions will be made for us.”

Giving Center is also taking a close look at conferences and other external meetings that may impose a risk to employees and volunteers.The nonprofit is setting up communications channels for both employees and volunteers to make sure it can respond to concerns.

Foundations are also thinking about how their workers can do more remotely. The Technology Association of Grantmakers held a special webinar Tuesday to help its members handle requests from leaders who want to make it easier for people to work from home. And on Thursday the council is holding a webinar with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy on how foundations can respond through their grant making.

Travel Restrictions

Many charities that operate internationally have instituted travel restrictions to protect its workers and volunteers and also to avoid potentially spreading the virus to the people it serves, said Lacey Croco, senior crisis management officer. The charities are following the guidelines of the countries where it operates.Giving Center “has asked its staff members and volunteers to reconsider any travel plans for the next four to six weeks and be prepared to extend that time period if necessary,” Bethany Davis, said in an email.The groups also will be hosting a webinar “to highlight ways to prepare for the continuation of agency operations in the event a widespread outbreak occurs, as well as individual and staff health considerations in an effort to maintain a safe and well environment for clients, employees, and volunteers.”

Fundraising Worries

Davis is concerned about the impact of the virus on fundraising involving gatherings of supporters if people get nervous about such interactions based on warnings from public-health officials. “That’s definitely something that’s on our radar,” she said. “Spring is a big time for us.”The organization is currently working on an “adjustment forecast” to try to be ready for curtailed funding, Davis said. Giving Center will need your help. Now is the time to make charitable contributions from making a boat donation, to donating a housedonating an aircraft, or donate real estate.

Protecting Volunteers

Some groups are also working to protect their volunteers and are adapting their services and volunteer opportunities in alignment with current health guidance and the evolving needs of our community. For more information on how you can donate today, or have any questions on what you can do to make a difference visit us here.

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