How have social organisations successfully pivoted during the pandemic?

Diminishing volunteer pools. Discouraging donation rates. Duplication of efforts by various agencies. The social sector has been hit the hardest by the pandemic, but resourceful social organisations in Singapore are finding new ways to thrive in the new normal. In this think piece, we share how social organisations have successfully responded to the pandemic by evolving their operations and adopting new processes.

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In with everything tech and virtual

In spite of government grants and donations from corporate sponsors, many social organisations were reeling from the inability to conduct in-person fundraising events during the Circuit Breaker period. In fact, fundraising challenges have driven charities such as Playeum and One Singapore to cease their operations in 2020.

At the same time, video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Google Hangouts have surged in popularity amid the pandemic. Local social organisations knew that the time to accelerate their digitalisation journey was now.

As a response to the pandemic, local social service agencies partnered with ThunderQuote, a B2B services marketplace and procurement software provider, under the NCSS Tech-and-GO! programme to adopt cutting-edge digital solutions such as cloud-based telephony.

Social organisations have also rolled with the punches by tapping on video conferencing tools to conduct online fundraising events. ACI Singapore, for one, had organised a fund-raising dinner via Zoom in June 2020. With an attendance of over 500 guests, meals from top local restaurants were delivered to the event participants prior to the dinner while a theatre group performance and a fireside chat were conducted through videoconferencing.

Likewise, other social organisations such as Lion Befrienders have expressed their interest in exploring the usage of online platforms to host novel charity fund-raisers such as virtual charity runs and vertical marathons.

Two heads are better than one

In a time when a global pandemic is attempting to pull us apart, we have to seek ways to stay connected. The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the importance of collaborations between various stakeholders to build capabilities and enhance their services for the community.

Cross-sector collaborations appear to be on the rise during the pandemic, as social organisations join forces with for-profit firms to streamline their operations and help the country tide over rough times. For instance, local food charity Food from the Heart has collaborated with courier service uParcel to make home deliveries to an estimated 1,000 underprivileged families in Singapore.

During the Circuit Breaker period, charities such as Food Bank, Free Food for All and Willing Hearts were also quick to share data on their service users for the creation of a central repository. Their willingness to work together and pool their resources have led to the minimisation of duplication of efforts and food wastage.

Solving labour crunches via volunteer-matching organisations

The pandemic has revealed the need for social organisations to attract talented professionals and volunteers to drive their digitalisation journey and organisational change. However, social organisations in Singapore have seen dwindling volunteer pools and lacklustre sign-up rates during the global crisis. A recent NCSS survey revealed that 67% of social service agencies in Singapore are still in need of volunteers.

Thankfully, some have leveraged external volunteer-matching organisations to help them attract and retain skilled volunteers, and find the right person for the job. The likes of Lakeside Family Services and the Breast Cancer Foundation, for instance, have partnered with Skills for Good, a student-led volunteer-matching organisation, to help match skilled volunteers to their projects. With a pool of over 800 students, Skills for Good offers a one-stop platform to connect skills-based volunteers and social organisations and has helped more than 30 social organisations build their capacity in areas such as social media marketing, data analytics and market research. Not only are such services readily available and cost-free, but they can free up valuable resources and time for organisations to focus on their core services and mission.

If you are also looking for high-calibre volunteers to contribute to your organisational goals, feel free to contact our friendly team for a chat. They will be able to offer bespoke advice and tailor our volunteer-matching services to meet your unique needs.

About Skills for Good

Skills for Good, a local volunteer-matching organisation, with a base of eclectic volunteers with skills ranging from marketing and communications to information technology to fundraising. We seek to empower volunteers through convenient and meaningful skills-based volunteering opportunities that help social organisations to achieve their mission.​ Volunteer with us today and wake up tomorrow with the warm and fuzzy sensation of ‘volunesia’.

Authors: Lim Jia Ying and Gerald Peh