Adeela Warley: As we begin to reopen our organisations, remember the generosity and commitment of volunteers

For charities, creating human connection with others and our environment is priceless

Adeela Warley
Adeela Warley

Summer has arrived. Looking back over the 11 weeks of lockdown, we can congratulate ourselves on how fast we’ve adapted to working remotely, moving our services online or creating virtual learning or fundraising experiences. We might even take some time to reflect on what we’ve lost and gained.

In the credit column: the ability to engage thousands, to remove the constraints of geography and the inconvenience and expense of travel, to test and learn at speed and measure impact in real time.

In the debit column: the loss of human interaction, the energy and dynamism that builds trusting relationships and the ability to interact with the physical world. Much as I love the podcast that brings the dawn chorus to my ears, a stroll in my local park with green parakeets darting overhead is a visceral experience.

And for charities creating human connection with others and our environment is priceless.

What can we learn from lockdown? Not that digital is good and face-to-face bad, but that our new communications landscape must blend approaches to create the most impactful human experiences.

It might not be perfect at first, but as the St Barnabas Hospice in Lincoln launches its “Book and Bring – Donation Drive-thru”, there is hope and ingenuity to celebrate and learn from.

As we start to reopen our charity shops, community libraries, parks and cultural venues, let’s remember that the generosity and commitment of volunteers are at their heart.

Volunteering Week also reminds us that the best way we can say thank you is to listen to their stories. #VolunteeringWeek.

Adeela Warley is the chief executive of CharityComms

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