Dave Thomas, Volunteering Development Officer at NCVS writes ...
In my last message, I invited Leaders of Volunteers to think about how their volunteer programmes will adapt as we come out of lockdown. Several leaders have been in touch and we have discussed how volunteer recruitment can be safe, while still adhering to volunteering good practice.
One way to do this is to slightly change the traditional order of volunteer recruitment. Instead of sending an application form as the first step, try combining the initial phone call response with the informal interview, but using video chat.
Initial contact from a potential volunteer
At the moment, almost all volunteer enquiries seem to be via email, so respond by setting up an initial informal interview / chat using Zoom, Skype or FaceTime (or another video chat application). This would allow for some degree of assessment of body language and suitability for the role that you would normally do in a face-to face meeting. If you have questions that you use for your face to face informal interview, use them here.
This would also depend on the potential volunteer having an awareness of what is on offer, so you may have to think about whether you need to re-write your role description and volunteer publicity to make this clear. Remember that the Volunteer Centre can help with this.
Once you and the potential volunteer have spoken and each decided that you want to take things further, you can send the application form, collect references and emergency contact details.
Induction and initial training
As far as possible, induction and initial training can also be done by video link and the volunteer invited to meet face to face (with social distancing in place) only when the relationship is becoming established.
At the moment, it is possible to get a DBS check using online ID documents. There is more information at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-changes-to-dbs-id-checking-guidelines.
Get the new volunteer involved
In order to get the volunteer involved as soon as possible during this process and the DBS check, you could think about what kind of online 'virtual' volunteering you can offer. There are some great examples at:
Many of us who have been involved in volunteering for a long time have tended to operate volunteer recruitment in a similar pattern to our experience of employment recruitment. Advertising is followed by application, then interview and so on. Yet we also understand that the very nature of volunteering is completely different from employment.
The constraints of social distancing offer us a rare opportunity to take a fresh look at the processes that we use to encourage volunteers to join our organisation, to change the 'running order' and to make effective use of the technology that we have adopted during the pandemic.
More information and support
The Volunteer Centre can provide information and support for any aspect of your volunteer programme. Please contact Dave Thomas, Volunteering Development Officer, on 07483 422503 or email email@example.com.