We showcase the online platforms helping charities build their emergency volunteer workforce
In the wake of the pandemic, many charities urgently need to bring on board new skills and logistical support, while others need to quickly find people with the digital know-how to help them gain a better footing in online service delivery and communications.
Meanwhile, just a few days into the lockdown, over 400,000 people had registered to volunteer with the NHS, showing the willingness of the British public to put their newly acquired spare time to good use. How can we connect the needs of the charity sector with the enormous generosity of people with the right skills to share?
Digital volunteering platforms have helped charities pinpoint the right volunteer talent, verify them, reach out and get them up and running quickly in times of need. Here are a few worth signing up to:
Do IT – Our Community
The Do IT platform says it’s the largest volunteering platform in the UK, supporting over 70,000 organisations to source over 38 million hours of volunteering to date.
Charities get their own page and a dashboard of tools to promote opportunities, events and campaign activities and to reach and engage with a new audience of corporate and individual volunteers.
The service is specifically helping people to support charities during this difficult time by connecting them with opportunities for things like befriending, food sorting and tech support.
What they say: “The UK Government has asked Do IT to be the platform that channels and connects that extraordinary breadth of support. Our aim is to make it easy for everyone in the country to provide all the help they can, and for every voluntary organisation and every person to find the help they need. So, we’ve created a community for the nation - ‘Our Community’ - on the Do IT platform.”
Reach Volunteering’s digital platform is based around connecting expert professionals with specific skills, with charities looking to fill that gap.
They also provide a dedicated COVID-19 mentoring service to act as a sounding board to help charities talk through and identify what their needs are during the pandemic, and help them find the right solution quickly. Charities can find mentors to help move their services online, manage the financial impact of the pandemic and set up effective remote working.
What they say: “We have thousands of experienced professionals in the Reach community right now, and three times as many people, as usual, have signed up because they want to help charities during the coronavirus outbreak. They may be working from home, or furloughed with time on their hands. But we vet all our volunteers to check they have three or more years of professional experience.”
Simply Connect is volunteer management and ’matchmaking’ software to help recruit, track and manage volunteers. They work with a third of Volunteer Centres nationally along with councils and Voluntary Services to provide a coordinated and managed volunteer response designed to minimise the risk to vulnerable people and make sure the necessary safety checks are in place. They have launched a free online registration service for people wanting to help during the pandemic.
Charities working in wellbeing, health and support for the socially isolated and vulnerable in the community can also benefit from volunteers to help expand their services digitally.
What they say: “We help Volunteer Centres, charities and Local Authorities to help people make the perfect volunteering ‘match’ and support people into the right role for them, whether this is formal volunteering, befriending, or a one-off volunteer response.
Bringing our unique experience we’ve rapidly responded to the need to support vulnerable people during the pandemic, and have developed a new COVID-19 response system.”
Volunteering Matters – Charity Connect
Volunteering Matters is an organisation dedicated to delivering volunteer programmes, leading on policy and research around volunteering, and building corporate volunteering programmes for businesses.
They’ve launched an online volunteering matchmaking services for businesses to offer their skills during the crisis, covering areas from business planning and project management to IT, logistics, press and media support and legal advice.
What they say: “With over 20,000 volunteers supporting over 85,000 people in over 100 community programmes, we’re leading the UK in volunteering practice, policy and partnerships. At this crucial time, we have issued a call to businesses who want to support charities through volunteering their skills services and logistical support.
If we don’t have the right skills or answers, we will also source ideas from thought leaders on strategies to support your COVID-19 efforts, or connect you with the right people who can.”
Business in the Community - National Business Response Network
Similarly to Charity Connect, the Business Response COVID-19 website was created to connect businesses with skills to the charities that need support.
You can view what charities and other organisations have requested so far, running the gamut from tablets and other gadgets to online support for pupils learning remotely, to volunteers to make calls remotely to people in isolation or help with food distribution.
The platform was set up by Business in the Community, a membership organisation for businesses around corporate social responsibility.
What they say: “Through Business in the Community’s vast regional and local connections and leaders, we are able to identify national and local community needs. The network then connects businesses who have the resources to help.”