The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched South Africa’s non-profit organisations (NPOs) to the limit – and what they need more than ever is ongoing support both financially and in time – to keep serving our most marginalised communities. But how do you volunteer when you’re locked down?
Keri-Leigh Paschal, executive trustee of Nation Builder, says there are ‘many ways’ ordinary citizens can support local NPOs and community organisations without risking their health and wellbeing, as many organisations have created or adapted existing volunteer opportunities to be done remotely.
“Our NPOs have a lot of volunteer work that needs to be done in person, but they also need virtual volunteers to function as their financial and human resources have dwindled. It’s vital that all of us contribute our skills, resources and network to get our nation through the storm,” said Paschal.
Some of the ways we can volunteer and make a difference during the lockdown include:
Support the people who work in our homes
Keep paying domestic workers and gardeners. They generally have extended families dependant on their income and rely on this income to get them through the lockdown.
Join the virtual volunteering craze
With the country largely confined to its homes, virtual volunteering has become a thing. One of the easiest ways to explore this is on Forgood.co.za, which matches causes with people by location, activities or by your specific interests and skills.
Reach out to local NPOs
There are numerous NPOs and groups currently running feeding schemes and other community support projects. Consider reaching out to organisations in your area to see what their needs are and if there are ways you can volunteer virtually – or by making something at home for the communities they serve eg sewing facemasks.
Go online shopping – with a difference
Ask your local NPO what their major grocery needs are, and go shopping for them – online, of course, making sure the delivery address is that of the NPO concerned. Retail therapy and making a difference, in one easy step.
If you want to go one step further, you can donate funds to the Gap Fund, initiated by the Mergon Group, through the Nation Builder Back-a-Buddy campaign or the Nation Builder Trust account, to an emergency fund set up to support NPOs who have lost significant funding, or need additional funding, during this time of increased need. Mergon has 15 years of experience in partnering financially with the NPO sector, so you have the assurance that funds will be well-deployed.
Offer virtual counselling, chat sessions or online tutoring
Many people are struggling at this time with feelings of isolation, uncertainty and stress. Others may just want to hear a friendly voice on the other end of the line. Some parents need to work, but their kids need help with their home-schooling. There are many ways to make a difference by simply picking up a phone.
“Volunteering can be a great way to add meaning and structure to our lives during lockdown. When we give back to others, it helps to decrease our anxiety and we forge solid connections with our communities. Just be sure to keep within lockdown regulations, stay safe and healthy!” said Paschal.