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Recruiting volunteers in times of crisis: difficult yet indispensable

by Karin Castilla-Civelli, NMA Marketing & Communication Officer

In times of global crisis and uncertainty, rallying volunteers for non-profit organisations becomes both challenging and crucial. The upheaval caused by widespread adversity often leads individuals to focus on their immediate needs and concerns, making it difficult to prioritize volunteering. Economic instability, health crises, and social unrest can all contribute to a sense of urgency and self-preservation, overshadowing altruistic impulses.

When faced with uncertainty and adversity, individuals naturally turn inward, focusing on safeguarding themselves and their loved ones. The instinct for survival often eclipses the impulse to extend a helping hand to others, as people grapple with immediate concerns such as health, finances, and safety. In this context, the idea of volunteering for a non-profit may seem like a luxury or a distant priority compared to the pressing demands of everyday life.

Furthermore, global crises can exacerbate existing inequalities and disparities, disproportionately affecting marginalized communities and straining social cohesion. As individuals confront the harsh realities of systemic injustices and structural inequities, they may feel overwhelmed or disillusioned, questioning the efficacy of their efforts in the face of entrenched problems. This disillusionment can dampen enthusiasm for volunteering, as people grapple with feelings of powerlessness or despair in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Dispite these formidable obstacles, the importance of volunteering for non-profits during times of crisis cannot be overstated. Non-profit organisations serve as vital lifelines for vulnerable populations, providing essential services, support, and advocacy in the midst of turmoil. From distributing food to those facing hunger, to offering shelter to the homeless, to advocating for policy changes to address systemic injustices, non-profits play a crucial role in addressing the immediate needs of communities and fostering long-term resilience.

Finding volunteers during times of crisis requires creativity, empathy, and perseverance. Non-profit organisations must adapt their recruitment strategies to meet the evolving needs and circumstances of potential volunteers. This may involve offering flexible opportunities for remote or virtual volunteering, providing training and support to ensure volunteers feel equipped to make a meaningful impact, and cultivating a sense of community and purpose that transcends the challenges of the moment.

While recruiting volunteers for non-profits during times of crisis may be an uphill battle, it is a battle worth fighting. By recognizing the complexities underlying volunteerism in tumultuous times and adapting their approach accordingly, non-profit organisations can harness the collective power of individuals to address urgent needs, strengthen communities, and sow the seeds of hope in the darkest of times.


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