Statewide survey gauges pandemic’s effect on volunteerism



Last summer, Volunteer Maine, the Maine Commission for Community Service, released the results of a survey seeking to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on volunteerism in the state. The survey was conducted by the Data Innovation Project.

Responses indicated “that COVID-19 volunteering at (the responding agencies) organizations decreased and some opportunities were severely limited.” Respondents also indicated “These experiences were not notably different among rural-service organizations, although transportation and internet connectivity were more detrimental.”

The Data Innovation Project and project partner the Survey Research Center are part of the Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy within the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine.

Among the other key conclusions from the respondents:

  • Volunteer opportunities were severely limited, particularly in-person activities and activities involving the direct delivery of service.
  • General labor (office work, operations, etc…) volunteering also decreased.
  • Boards and work groups were able to continue, albeit in virtual or socially distanced settings.
  • One-time volunteer opportunities had been eliminated or reduced.
  • The number of volunteer hours decreased, overall.

Respondents also identified the following reasons as to why volunteering decreased:

  • Event size limitations.
  • Head count limitations.
  • Changing service needs of the community.
  • Temporary office closures.

Respondents did identify the following as signals that point to a recovery of volunteer efforts in Maine:

  • The transition to remote or virtual volunteer opportunities.
  • An increase in pandemic-related volunteer opportunities offered.
  • Most organizations state they have been able to maintain internal capacity to support volunteering.

Respondents stated the following as key areas of support that could be provided by Volunteer Maine:

  • Guidance on how to recruit volunteers to return, including messaging related to such efforts.
  • Guidance on how to bring volunteers back safely, such as safe practice checklists.

The full report is available at volunteermaine.gov/Media/News/Covid-Impact-Survey-2021.

Staff

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