Businesses across the country are scrambling to adapt to the changes and challenges brought about by the COVID-19 crisis. Stress and uncertainty abound, but, strikingly, amidst this upheaval there is a desire from so many to help others. In recognition of National Volunteer Week (April 19-25), corporations should take stock of their virtual volunteering program and consider ramping it up for COVID-19 response.

Nonprofits, like corporations, had to turn on a dime to attempt to deal with the crisis at hand. Most are dealing with a sharp increase in demand for their services while facing limited volunteer staff and a disruption in their regular fundraising activities. Nonprofits could use corporate support now more than ever.

Corporations that carve out time to prioritize their philanthropic response to COVID-19 will gain the respect and loyalty of employees and the community at large. Given the physical limitations dictated by social distancing, virtual volunteering is the way to go. What should your corporation consider when setting up your COVID-19 CSR response?

1) Flexibility. Our world seems to have been turned upside down overnight so it makes sense that the rules and guidelines for virtual volunteering should be relaxed. Let employees take the lead in establishing virtual volunteering opportunities and encourage the sharing of information. In order to handle increased interest, consider enlisting employees for a new employee task force for centralizing information for COVID relief programs. Reach out to existing ERG's to get them mobilized to help as well.

2) Additional programs. This crisis has hit every community in every town across the U.S. It’s time for your company to pull out all the stops and add programs so you’re giving all employees an opportunity to help in some way. One unique form of virtual volunteering that many companies are choosing to incorporate into their coronavirus response efforts are YouGiveGoods COVID-19 Care drives because they are quick and easy to set up, can support as many charities as desired, and are accessible for every employee on their computers or mobile devices. Companies like ExxonMobile, Dell, Astellas, Novartis, and more are setting up national YouGiveGoods events supporting local charities across the country. Contact YouGiveGoods to learn more.

3) Technology to aid local efforts. Most employees would like to support local nonprofits in need so they can help ease the suffering within their own communities. Corporations with CSR platforms will find the technology more useful than ever as you add new nonprofits and virtual volunteering opportunities. Encourage employees to check out VolunteerMatch’s COVID-19 on-site and remote volunteering opportunities searchable by zip code for ideas of how to help their local community.

4) Bond over the good. There is an awful lot of bad news out there. Be sure to share the good news about the work employees and the company as a whole are doing to help during this crisis. Consider putting out a Good News e-newsletter showcasing virtual volunteering, donations and more. How about starting your next team Zoom meeting with at least one person discussing his/her virtual volunteering experience?

5) Take it from the top. As with your other CSR programs, buy in from top and middle management is essential to get employees motivated and to show that helping during this time of crisis is a priority for the organization as a whole. Share what C-Suite executives are doing to help and explain the resources the company is devoting to the relief effort so you send a strong message of support to both your employees and the community.

6) Apart, together. Your employees no longer share a common workspace but they are still very much a team and in many cases, a family. What better way to reinforce that important team bond than by banding together to make a positive impact in such a difficult time?

Hopefully, by now your employees have adjusted to the new normal for work. Form your COVID-19 response team and start putting in place as many actionable opportunities for employees to help as possible. Corporations are poised to make a significant positive community impact now and for the long haul. Make the investment. Be that company that employees are proud to work for and eases suffering during this time of crisis.

YouGiveGoods helps corporations provide a simple but meaningful outlet for employees to help during the COVID-19 crisis.

Discuss your goals with a YouGiveGoods corporate event specialist.

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