Serving the Community in a Virtual World

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many unprecedented challenges to our world and has affected communities in many ways. For many, the new normal has consisted of remote work and virtual meetings to adhere to social distancing guidelines, creating an increasingly virtual world. While some have been able to “adapt” to this new normal, others have experienced evolving needs that have become more difficult to meet as communities are faced with new challenges and an increased demand for community services. Serving the community has never been more important than during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Increased and evolving social needs

COVID-19 has increased the need for many individuals to seek support from community services. While remote work has become the norm for some, not all have been so fortunate as to maintain a source of income during the pandemic. 42% of U.S. adults say that themselves or someone in their household has lost a job or taken a pay cut due to the pandemic.  This has put many Americans in a tough financial situation. Among lower income adults, 46% have had difficulty paying their bills, and 32% have had trouble paying their rent or mortgage.

Because of this increased lack of financial stability, many have turned to nonprofit organizations in their community for extra support. During the pandemic housing related needs have been identified as having the biggest impact on vulnerable populations. Many people have also found themselves in need of access to food. 17% of adults have received food from a food bank since the coronavirus outbreak began; that number increases to 35% for lower income individuals. Social distancing has also taken a toll on the mental health of many due to the social isolation of not being able to see one’s friends or family. More and more Americans are turning to community based organizations (CBO) for social support, and CBOs have had to learn to adapt the ways they help the community in times of social distancing.

Providing support through virtual volunteering

Even though we cannot meet in person the way we once could, volunteering does not have to stop. Virtual volunteering has become increasingly popular during this time and is a great way to give back to the community. There are many different ways individuals can offer their support through virtual volunteering such as providing translations or offering visual assistance to blind and low-vision people. You can make a real impact through virtual volunteering.

These resources make it easy to find virtual volunteer opportunities at nonprofit organizations in your community:

How to increase collaboration in virtual times

We know that staying connected has become even more important during these times. Meeting face to face is something that many of us took for granted in the past, and now we find ourselves turning to new ways to stay connected and collaborate with one another. So, how can we increase collaboration and continue to serve the community in these virtual times?

Virtual events

In the age of social distancing, virtual events have become invaluable. Virtual events are a great way to increase collaboration and harbor a sense of community. Nonprofit organizations are a highly connected community, so finding a way to connect during these unprecedented times is crucial. Webinars are a great way to spread information and educate community members in a digital way about the services being offered or share ideas with other organizations. Roundtable discussions are another amazing way to stay connected and increase collaboration. These digital discussions allow community organizations to network with other like minded organizations about ways to solve problems and maximize the impact of their work.

Connected case management and referral directory

While navigating the new reality of not being able to meet face to face and becoming busier than before, many nonprofits find themselves in need of a tool to provide them with some extra support. A connected case management platform, combined with a robust and up to date referral directory is the asset community service organizations need to maximize the support they provide the community. Pieces Connect makes collaboration easy for nonprofit organizations. Through electronic closed loop referrals, organizations are able to not only find other resources in the community and make referrals for their clients, but also find out that they actually got the extra help they needed. Pieces Connect has a robust referral directory that empowers collaboration between neighboring nonprofits in the community. Using the referral directory, you are able to easily make a referral for a client to another organization in your community to ensure that the client gets the extra help that they need. You also don’t have to worry about information being out of date, because all information is verified for accuracy. During the coronavirus pandemic, we know situations are constantly changing. Our referral directory is up to date with the most recent information. Pieces Connect is a robust case-management platform that more easily enables the input, storage, and management of the information of clients who need to connect with community networks and services.