Considerations for Engaging In-Person Volunteers During COVID-19: Guidance for Nonprofit Organizations

Posted in News Story

By Bea Boccalandro

April 20, 2020

Bea Boccalandro is founder and president of VeraWorks, a global consulting firm that helps managers and companies offer employees the opportunity to do societal good through their everyday jobs. She is also a part of the Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership faculty.

This article is based on the Points of Light’s “Considerations for Using In-Person Volunteers During COVID-19: Guidance for Nonprofit Organizations.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) offer recommendations for health behaviors and those should be your controlling engagement guidelines for person-to-person engagements. This article is not medical, legal advice or professional advice and is not inclusive of all possible considerations. We strongly recommend that nonprofits consult with their independent legal counsel and insurance advisors for tailored advice on risk mitigation.

The purpose of this article is to help nonprofit organizations make decisions regarding their use of in-person (not virtual) volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic and, if they decide to engage them, how to do so as safely as possible. It is meant as a supplemental resource to help organizations determine whether they should engage individuals in in-person volunteer activities consistent with public health guidance during this unprecedented time. Organizations are encouraged to revisit these considerations regularly as restrictions and guidance during COVID-19 changes rapidly, even daily.

1. Yes/no decision on involving in-person volunteers

Following is a checklist with the recommended questions to help you consider if your organization should engage in-person volunteers at this time. The items below are in addition to the usual considerations your agency uses to properly engage volunteers (such as selecting needed skills, completing background checks, etc.) and should be used in conjunction with your usual volunteer engagement policies. This checklist can provide a framework to build upon incorporating tailored guidance from your advisors and leadership.

If you answer “no” to any of the questions in the table below, consider postponing your use of in-person volunteers until a time when you can meet all the above criteria.

Program/service being considered: ___________________________

Again, if you answer “no” to any of the above questions, consider postponing your use of in-person volunteers until a time when you can meet all the above criteria (and skip part 2 of this article).

2. How to involve in-person volunteers

Below are suggested actions in managing in-person volunteers.

Additional articles in this series, Leading in Times of Hyper Change, can be found on our website, Facebook and Twitter.