Supporting Social Good During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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COVID-19 is impacting every sector and industry. If you’re working in the social good space (non-profit or corporate social responsibility) you’ve not been immune. Non-profits are experiencing a decrease in volunteer engagement as would-be volunteers “social distance” themselves. Major fundraising events are being cancelled, eliminating streams of revenue for essential programs. Business is screeching to a halt. Companies are turning inward seeking solutions to expand benefits for employees while minimizing risk as they hemorrhage money. For the hardest hit companies this means spending cuts, hiring freezes and layoffs.

Incredibly tough decisions are being made. I won’t pretend I have the answers. I too am just a small boat just weathering the storm. That said, I’ve bundled some resources I feel strongly should be shared with leaders in the social good space. As non-profits continue to serve their community it’s incredibly important they do so in the smartest way. But the same goes for funders and volunteers. This is a time the non-profit sector most needs your support. But this too requires you to serve smartly. The below resources should help you through your decision making (whatever you end up doing).

For non-profit organizations serving the community.

For major funders (Foundations) providing monetary contributions for non-profits.

For companies (and CSR) whose employees want to volunteer in their community.

  • Points of Light — Employee Volunteering When You Can’t Serve In-Person: Planning for the impacts of COVID-19 on communities, employees and business operations has been an added focus for most employers over the last several weeks. In the civic engagement sector, leaders have been asked to plan alternatives, postpone or cancel planned volunteer experiences for workers in response to limits on travel and event attendance. With the focus on the health and safety of staff and partners, how do you balance your purpose work?

While I can’t prescribe what decisions you make, this is what I’ll leave you with. If you’re in a position of leadership first ensure you can take care of your most immediate employees regardless of your sector. Regardless of where you fit within the social good space, if you can’t help yourself, you can’t help others.

Secondly, if you work in CSR or philanthropy, know that your community partners need you. Just as you would design programming to support your employees, I urge you to think hard about your community partners who may also need you in this trying time. If you’re in a position to continue funding and volunteering, please do so. This may require that you think about virtual forms of volunteerism and giving as they’re made available.

Have that conversation with your community partners as their essential services might depend on it.

Lastly, if your organization (or company) is experiencing a disruption but found creative means to continue providing support, let me know. I’d love to hear about what you’re doing so that others may learn from your successes. Also, if you know of additional resources to share, by all means share them so that I may share more broadly. Or if you’re seeking some creative guidance on how to best support community partners contact me, I may able to assist.

In the meantime wash them hands, follow the CDC guidance and stay Responsible AF!

Note: The thoughts and views expressed in this post reflect my personal views alone and are not those of Marriott International or any of its brands

About the author: Jerome Tennille is the Manager of Social Impact & Volunteerism for Marriott International. Jerome is also an independent consultant and advisor in the subject matter of Sustainability and Social Impact. Prior to that Jerome held the position of Senior Manager of Impact Analysis and Assessment for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a national organization that offers help, hope, and healing to all those grieving the death of a loved one serving in America’s armed forces. Jerome also served on the board of directors of Peace Through Action USAfor four years and also serves on the PsychArmor Institute Advisory Committee for the School of Volunteers & Nonprofits. Jerome holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in operations management and a Master of Sustainability Leadership (MSL) from Arizona State University. Jerome is designated as Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) and is also a veteran of the US Navy.

Social Good advocate for CSR, Volunteer Engagement, and Sustainability. Veteran. Manager of Volunteerism at Marriott International. Visit www.jerometennille.com

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