For Organisations

Updates

Safeguard volunteers

  • Protecting the health and safety of staff and volunteers are the most important things to consider.
  • Most formal volunteers are considered workers under work health and safety laws and as should be afforded the same considerations as paid employees

 

Support self-care and communication for volunteers

  • Ensure volunteers feel supported to make decisions in their best interests around whether to continue to volunteer or not.
  • Keep volunteers informed about what is happening
    • Any changes to service delivery
    • Any changes to communication channels (ie should they email queries if people are now working from home?)
  • Ensure volunteer contact information is up to date.
    • Did you know that Volunteering WA’s VIRA platform can be used to manage volunteer information? Find out more here
  • Set strict expectations on unwell volunteers
    • Clearly communicate that it they are unwell they should stay home and seek medical attention if needed.
  • Volunteers are used to helping others. But let them know its ok to ask for help if they need it. 

Suspend non-essential volunteering programs 

  • Although all volunteering activities are important, most should now be suspended to assist the community to reduce the public health risk.
  • This might be one of the biggest contributions volunteers can make at this time and can acknowledged.
  • Particularly consider suspending any non-essential face to face volunteering activities that interface with people with weakened immune systems, older people, those with disabilities and long term conditions such as diabetes, cancer and respiratory illnesses and other ways of providing services.
  • If any volunteering opportunities are suspended:
    • Communicate the decision clearly and promptly to volunteers
    • Let them know that you value their contribution and want to continue to work with them in the future
    • Ask them to contact you if they have any of your equipment that you may need / or they have personal property on your premises
    • Commit to increasing ongoing communications with them and let them know how you will do this, e.g. this could be a regular phone call or email
    • Be creative in recognizing their contribution and how to keep them engaged until volunteering programs resume
    • Provide them a contact point to keep in touch and ensure their contact details are up to date.
  • For a step by step guide on how to pause volunteer recruitment on the online Volunteering WA VIKTOR platform click here.
  • Consider online volunteering opportunities
    • Did you know that Volunteering WA’s VIKTOR platform can be used to advertise these kinds volunteering opportunities? Find out more here

Cancel or postpone non-essential events

  • The Australian Government has banned all non-essential gatherings.
    • If you are hosting a formal meeting, such as an AGM required by your rules of association, refer to your organisation’s governing document to see what it says about remote participation and quorum. 
    • Check cancellation policies for venue bookings you’ve made or are about to make.

    Keep volunteers safe

    • If your organisation keeps running programs and services involving volunteers, every measure should be taken to protect their health and safety.
    • This includes sharing and reinforcing information provided by the Australian Government about hygiene and physical distancing.
    • Look out for specific advice that might impact your area of service delivery, particularly as it relates to vulnerable members of our community including:
      • People in aged care facilities
      • People with chronic illnesses or who are immune-compromised
      • People who are homeless
      • Victims of family or domestic violence
      • Those with disabilities
    • Be prepared to continue to review these programs and adjust to Government directives, advice or changes in your organisation’s risk assessment.

    Plan for contingencies and insurance 

    • Given the fast-changing situation begin by focusing on the immediate future in terms of what needs to happen now to support staff, volunteers and service users.
    • And then develop a business continuity plan for how your organisation will run if a significant proportion of staff or volunteers are unavailable or there are interruptions to key services (such as IT) or suppliers.
    • Every insurance policy will have varying terms and conditions so you should check directly with your insurance company or broker. 
    • It is not recommended that volunteer-involving organisations place volunteer staff in roles that were previously held by paid staff or have been identified as paid jobs.

    Take action to manage finances

    • The implications of COVID-19 will create a financial crunch.
    • Early planning will help to manage the impact:
      • Focus on cash flow management
      • Know what your fixed costs are and when you will need to pay them
      • Delay committing to any expenditure that you can
      • Invoice for all services already delivered
      • Follow up on any outstanding debts
    • If you are receiving funding, submit any required reports on time to make sure that you receive future instalments on time.
    • Talk to your bank if any special arrangements need to be put in place.
    • Consider a recruitment freeze on any vacant positions.
    • You may want to budget for increased contingency costs over the next financial year.
    • We think funders should take a supportive and pragmatic approach to helping the organisations they fund through this period.
    • Speak or email them as soon as practical if you need to cancel or delay project activities which are part of funding agreements.  
    • Speak to your funders about the impact of cancelling or delaying project activities which are part of funding agreements