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6 Best Practices for Virtual Volunteerism

Anne Fertitta

In the corporate world, the push to “go virtual” during the pandemic came with new opportunities to foster greater connectivity and reach people where they are: at home. And it’s likely that these opportunities and creative approaches will continue in a post-pandemic world.

There are few things that bring people together like volunteering. With the recent surge in remote work options, companies are finding new ways to engage their workforce and community through volunteerism, and the benefits have been rewarding to see.

Business leaders know that corporate volunteerism strengthens communities, employees and companies. While some companies canceled or postponed volunteer opportunities, others moved to virtual volunteering or eVolunteering. Rather than developing new virtual volunteer programs alone, organizations can partner with third-party virtual volunteering and engagement platforms to widen their scope of global nonprofit partners and reach new volunteers from previously untapped communities. At AMD, we found that adapting our 2021 Day of Service to “go virtual” held the same value as our previous in-person volunteer events. In partnership with Goodera and Impact4Good, AMD connected nearly 2,000 employees across 28 global sites for 6,000 combined volunteer hours.

With collaboration, innovative thinking and utilization of technology, virtual volunteering can continue to make an impact on communities or projects in need. AMD experienced six helpful practices for successfully transitioning to service-based virtual events:  

  1. Start early – The move to virtual volunteering can be very time consuming so make sure you start planning months in advance to allow nonprofit partners to re-tool their traditional volunteer offerings.
  2. Over-communicate – The move to virtual volunteering often requires creating new processes and platforms that employees are unfamiliar with. Stay in close contact with employees to offer onboarding support along the way.
  3. Be flexible – Leverage the flexibility that virtual events provide by offering options for time-bound events, ongoing events that are not deadline driven or informational sessions with nonprofits that are short and do not require an extended time commitment.
  4. Manage the silence – The Internet can and will go down, so be prepared for lulls in conversation. It’s harder for employees to converse on a virtual event, so fill the void with fun conversation starters or trivia questions.
  5. Create connections – Online fatigue is a challenge in the virtual setting, but AMD found that having nonprofit partners available to talk about their mission helped employees feel more connected to the organizations and see the impact of their contributions.
  6. Offer incentives – Even small rewards can motivate people to participate. To incentivize employees to enter volunteer time for our ESG reporting, AMD randomly surprised some employees with a charity gift card to donate to their favorite nonprofit organization.

It’s important for organizations to help our global community, especially during this ongoing pandemic. And the hybrid or remote structures that business leaders have been navigating offer increased flexibility and reach for virtual volunteerism.

By Anne Fertitta, Senior Manager Global Community Affairs at AMD

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