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Volunteering during COVID-19.

From our friends at the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations:

As we practice social distancing and self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many individuals that need support and require assistance. It is a natural instinct to want to help those in need. This document will provide the current information we have as it pertains to volunteerism, we hope to update it regularly with resources and support.

Current Statement from Volunteer Canada: 

Volunteer Canada recognizes that in times of community distress many individuals want to be of assistance, helping where there is need. In almost every form of emergency, the offer of help and willingness to gather to get things done is appreciated. In a pandemic, this is not the case. Social distancing is the recommended course for containing virus spread. We also know that social isolation can be very damaging and that this is a time when we need to be conscious of people in need within our families, social circles, and neighbourhoods. One to one contact is not advised, but check in calls, emails and social media contact can be very helpful. Adding regular connecting via technology is a great way for individuals to help.


Here are three important elements you should consider before volunteering during the pandemic: 

Stay Safe, Stay Cautious, and maybe Stay at Home

Although our first instincts tend to focus on how to help, the best thing you can do in this situation is prioritize yourself and your health, and unfortunately this means staying home. This assists with community efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you must go out in public, ensure that you practice social distancing.  

There are numerous resources on how to stay safe. Check out resources from the Government of Alberta and the World Health Organization. 

If you are in a situation in which you must volunteer (for instance, for a pre-existing commitment), ensure you are taking every precaution possible including: 

  • Regularly washing hands 
  • Practicing social distancing 
  • Limiting contact as much as possible 
  • Talk with the organization about their policies and procedures around COVID-19

When in doubt, defer to the advice of your volunteer managers and representatives. Not only will their insight be the most accurate, but your cooperation will go a long way in lessening their stress and workload during this time.  

Also be cautious when managing or volunteering for grassroots initiatives without clear and comprehensive guidelines and screening procedures. Unscreened and unofficial volunteers put themselves and initiatives at risk of being held legally liable for damages or injuries that occur while volunteering.

Consider Remote Volunteering

Remote volunteerism and microvolunteerism are fantastic alternatives if you’re eager to contribute to your community, while providing options for you to use some of that at-home time in a productive manner. 

What is remote volunteerism? 

Remote volunteering allows you to volunteer from the comfort of your own home. While charities and non-profits assess and identify their greatest needs from volunteers, there are easy and effective options for you to consider without needing to leave the house.

  • Have phone/video conversations with seniors, many of whom struggle with social isolation even without a pandemic affecting their social lives.
  • Connect with your family and loved ones often. Even a short phone call every few days can have a hugely calming affect on you and those around you. 
  • Support local business through donations, purchasing gift cards for use at a later date, using delivery services or leaving great reviews for them online.
  • Volunteer Connector keeps an ongoing inventory of volunteer opportunities, including remote volunteering.

Microvolunteering is defined by key aspects, including a short commitment, centered around a specific project and primarily done on one’s own time. There are multiple online resources for how you can contribute, but to get you thinking here are some examples of microvolunteerism: 

  • Signing a petition for cause you’re passionate about. 
  • Creating craft kits for children. 
  • Editing and formatting documents. 
  • Quilting for those in need. 
  • Helping with snow removal, for example, could help reduce risk of virus exposure for your neighbours and vulnerable citizens.

There are multiple opportunities available on Volunteer Canada’s website. Click here to learn more and find your microvolunteerism opportunity. 

Support Your Community!

Left unchecked, isolation can become quite harmful to many individuals. A fantastic way to support those around you is to maintain conversations through daily or regular check-ins by phone or videoconference. Physical distancing doesn’t mean we can’t stay social; get creative to ensure those around you feel supported.

For more resources, we encourage you to visit the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website.


It can be incredibly difficult to cope not just with isolation, but also with the acceptance that, in this case, our efforts to help may cause more harm than good. 

We’ll be speaking with non-profits extensive in the coming days and weeks to get a better understanding of where there is a demand for volunteers to help during COVID-19.

By diverting your efforts towards a virtual space and maintaining social distancing, you can have a profoundly positive impact on our society, both immediately and long-term.

In the meantime, we encourage you to share your favourite volunteer activity, organization, or story with your friends, family and on social media to maintain Edmonton’s incredible volunteer spirit. 

That way, once we transition back towards normal social patterns, our thousands of non-profits and charities will have no problem finding their next star volunteers.