How to make time for volunteering in Hong Kong (and everywhere else) 

Written by: Allan Song
HandsOn Hong Kong Board Member 

I think it’s safe to say that many of us want to volunteer, and most of us understand that volunteering is a good, decent thing to do.

However, we all have jobs, families, and a million other obligations, that easily overtake our existing motivations to take time out of our busy schedule for volunteering - and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you live in a city like Hong Kong, it gets all that more challenging.

I’ve had the fortune of meeting hundreds of other volunteers during my time as a volunteer leader with HandsOn Hong Kong. While I may not have invented a way to warp space-time to add a few more hours to your busy week, I’d like to share with you some practical insights and suggestions that might get you out volunteering. In turn, better helping our communities that are in desperate need of help, now more than ever.

While these "tips" are mostly directed at specific communities in Hong Kong, particularly though the HandsOn Hong Kong network, most of the advice can be taken no matter where you are in the world. HandsOn is affiliated with Points of Light, which is a great starting point to find similar resources in your city.

In the lead up to International Volunteer Day, taking place on December 5th, let’s see how we can make volunteering a bigger part of your busy lives!

1. Don’t feel the need to commit - start with just one, short, small activity

There is no big secret here. Nor is it impossible to find 1-2 hrs, just once, on a weekend to participate in a volunteering activity (protip: if you live in Hong Kong, you can find hundreds of activities on the HandsOn HK calendar)Many people fail to do even one activity, simply because they feel it will lead to further commitment. This is simply not true. Any commitments are always in the control of the volunteer, so don't let that deter you from signing up to your first activity.

Just take the plunge and book your first activity, now!

2. Don't try to change the world (yet) - be picky, find the volunteer activity that suits YOU

A common mistake when people get excited about volunteering is they want to cast a huge net and save the world on their first try. An admirable motivation, no doubt, but sometimes the search then becomes too overwhelming and intimidating.

Find an activity that suits your time, your interests, and your skills - its ok to be picky. For your first activity, focus on doing something that you are comfortable with, not something that you think is the most in need, or that someone else is doing.

There are hundreds of NGOs in HK with volunteering opportunities that will fit any preference. Luckily, the the staff at HandsOn Hong Kong has worked hard to ensure there is a variety of activities available at your fingertips on their calendar. Whether its poverty alleviation, children’s education, elderly care, environment, animals – there is something for everyone.

4. Plan ahead, way ahead, and volunteer with friends!

Most volunteers are unable to find free time in their schedule until the last minute. When this happens, it’s often too late to find activities you are interested in. Using the HandsOn calendar, you can sign up for activities that are weeks, sometimes months in advance. Don’t worry, if something does come up, you can always cancel. (However, we do recommend cancelling as early as possible so others can sign up)

And don’t forget to get your friends to join as well! So many of our activities rely on social interaction, so there is absolutely thing wrong with bringing along friends, especially if that will help you commit to an activity.

Check out this recent article by Sam Lau on how to turn your next recreational activity in a volunteering event : Recreational Volunteering – a different take on community engagement?

5. Virtual Opportunities

Social distancing has been challenging for many, but it has allowed us all to embrace virtual options in both our professional and personal lives. There have been many more virtual volunteering activities being made available around the world, and in Hong Kong, HandsOn has been a leader in this space.

This is an easy way to commit your time to a short activity, while also cutting out some of the overhead like travelling to a location, and still making a huge impact.

There are so many great opportunities available now where you can make an immediate impact. Such as using Zoom to be a story teller at the Story Telling Corner with children, or helping local underprivileged children and children of refugees with their homework.

6. Skills Based Opportunities

Some people prefer to volunteer in ways that leverage their own professional skills. By doing this, they feel they are adding more value on the back of the time commitment being given. While I personally believe volunteering in any shape or form has tremendous impact, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to apply your valuable talents.

During the pandemic, many NGOs have seen reduced funding and have been in dire need of skilled resourcing within their organizations. In HK, HandsOn has worked hard to expand their list of skills based volunteering programs.

These opportunities are often longer commitments, but range widely, anywhere between 2-3 hours a week for a month, to 15-20 hours a week for half a year. For example, right now there are roles for a Comms & PR volunteer with flexible commitment at HELP for Domestic Workers, as well as roles for a Medical Assistance Volunteer with ImpactHK requiring 15-20 hours a month for 6 months.

If you're interested, get your CV ready and make a submission!



Ways in which volunteering can boost your career

Written by: Kat-Kukreja
HandsOn Hong Kong Board Member

The benefits of volunteerism on an individual’s mind, body and spirit are well documented. From the “Helper’s High” that comes from giving back to others, to the opportunity to make new friends, the positive impact of volunteering are as varied as the people who serve as volunteers. But have you ever thought of all of the ways that volunteering can benefit your professional development? With many companies downsizing (or reluctant to expand teams) due to the economic impact of COVID-19, volunteering can provide you with additional skills to highlight in your CV, and possibly help you find your next role, whilst also helping to make a real and lasting difference in your community.

Over the years, I’ve found that my experience as a board member of HandsOn Hong Kong has been a great way to highlight certain skills in job interviews. Additionally, as CSR is now top-of-mind for most firms, my work with HandsOn has assisted in building a rapport with the interviewer, and making me a more memorable candidate.

Here are some ways that that volunteering can benefit your career:

  • Meet new people: Volunteering will expose you to many different kinds of people, and you never know who you will meet doing charity work. You may meet people in your current industry, allowing you to further develop your professional network. If you are currently looking for work, choosing to volunteer in a role related to your target job may provide you with opportunities to meet people with similar interests, or jobs that are similar to the one you want. Either way, volunteering will give you the chance to be more open-minded, compassionate and help you build your confidence in approaching people from different backgrounds.

  • Develop new skills: It may be that you don’t have the opportunity to learn new things in your current role, or perhaps you’d just like to try something different. Volunteering offers a relatively risk free environment in which to gain new skills whilst giving back to the community, and perhaps discover interests you were previously unaware of! There are a wide range of skills that can be acquired through volunteering, including team building, leadership, goal setting, problem solving and adaptability, and sales skills. These soft skills are highly desirable to employers and may set you apart from your peers.

  • Build your CV: Headhunters have long encouraged clients to include volunteer work on their CVs. It shows you have initiative, are willing to learn new things and can organise your time to fit in volunteering. If you are between jobs, volunteering is an ideal option to keep you busy, but also to further develop those skills that you believe to be your strongest and could potentially attract employers.

As you can see, volunteering can help enhance your career prospects. The increased sense of well-being and reduction of stress can help you learn better, improve your focus, release your creativity, and hopefully enhance your prospects in your current (or new!) role.



‘Youth Empowered’ HandsOn: Youth Can Make an Impact On Their Community, Too

Written by: Henrietta Ko
Student at Hong Kong International School

I remember my first experience with HandsOn two years ago: I was 15, wide-eyed, and eager to serve my community on one of ImpactHK’s Kindness Walks. As a volunteer, I helped pass out supplies to homeless citizens. Although a rewarding experience, the one thing that I remember most from that experience was thinking that I could do more. I didn’t just want to be a volunteer, and although I didn’t know what I could do at that time, I just knew that I wanted to do more for my community, so when I stumbled upon the application for HandsOn’s Youth Empowered team, I knew it was the perfect opportunity.

As part of Youth Empowered, we’re in charge of starting our own volunteering programs. What I didn’t anticipate, however, was how much planning went into doing this. We had gone through several months of volunteer and leader training, hearing from experts about different social issues as well as honing in our leadership skills. Our team also called every week to plan our program. Planning could get difficult at times, especially having to work around the ever-changing circumstances, but we knew that it would be all worth it when we saw our program being put up on the HandsOn calendar.

Apart from bringing alive our programs, what I love most about being part of Youth Empowered is the community. Every student here came with a passion to serve, and when you’re working with a group of people who are all working towards a common goal, you learn so much from the people around you. I’m proud of my team for ensuring the success of our first event (a beach clean-up in Cheung Chau!) as well as the other teams for what they’ve accomplished as well. I’m inspired by the passion that these students have and their drive for tackling the issues that we see around us, and it is my hope that we share this passion with the larger Hong Kong youth community as well.

I’m endlessly grateful for everyone that made this happen and for believing in a group of students. To the entire team at HandsOn, thank you for giving us the opportunity to show everyone that you’re never too young to make a difference :)



Tis’ the Season to Remember the Forgotten

Written by:Shaun Bernier
Founder & Board Chair, HandsOn Hong Kong

This week (December 5) marks International Volunteer Day (IVD), recognized around the world as both a time to volunteer and celebrate its impact in the community. During these uncertain times, volunteers around the world are at the forefront of much of the medical and societal response to the current pandemic. Yet also during this time—both this year and last—NGOs in Hong Kong like my own, HandsOn Hong Kong, have had to cancel volunteer activities and other events, many taking a financial hit.

In December 2019, The South China Morning Post published a Letter to the Editor (LTE) that I wrote about addressing the needs of the disadvantaged during the holidays. After months of economic decline and stress on the city from political unrest, Hong Kong was on the cusp of an even deeper hit from COVID-19. The first line of the LTE perhaps rings even more true now: “This holiday season promises to be a somber one.”

Today, we find Hong Kong similarly positioned, experiencing its fourth wave of COVID-19. While the measures it is adopting to curb the spread of the virus are necessary, it will no doubt further hurt the city’s economy—and its spirit.

And just as I wrote then, while everyone in Hong Kong is affected by this crisis, no one’s daily life and ability to make ends meet is more impacted than those of the forgotten: the individuals and families in Hong Kong who were already living on the margins of society before the crisis began. From the elderly and the working poor, to low-income children and the disabled, the needs of the forgotten only grow in these uncertain times.

This year, my hope is the same—that each of us will do our part to help those in need this holiday season and beyond. Whether volunteering in-person or virtually or donating to a local charity, we each can make a positive difference in someone’s life and in our community. And despite the current uncertainty, safe options for both beneficiaries and volunteers are in abundance—from sending a card or video message of support to an elderly person in need, to helping create a financial literacy video supporting low-income women, to providing homework help through Zoom to a low-income child.

The forgotten in our city need us more than ever. Now it’s time to do our part.



A conversation with a COVID-relief volunteer: Renée Cheung

Written by: Catherine Dannaoui
Deputy Executive Director at HandsOn Hong Kong

This year's International Volunteer Day on December 5th is being held to recognize and show gratitude for volunteers worldwide who have gone above and beyond to support their communities during the pandemic. By showing the incredible impact volunteers have had throughout the crisis, the hope is to unite #ChangeMakers across the globe with the UN Volunteer's 2020 message: "Together We Can Through Volunteering".

In this spirit we wanted to share the experience of a HandsOn Hong Kong volunteer who has regularly served during the COVID-crisis. Renée Cheung volunteers at a Tin Shui Wai community centre most weekends (Hong Kong Women Development Association Limited Rita Liu Tin Ching Multi-Services Centre), supporting our COVID-19 relief program delivering Care Packages to the doorsteps of the city's most vulnerable and destitute.

Like a number of other volunteers we've met this year, Renée has gotten to know HandsOn during this year of crisis—out of a strong desire to want to help and be of service during these challenging times. She took the time to speak to me about some of her experiences and what motivates her.

Renée, how did your volunteer journey begin?

I started volunteering as a student in my teens. Ironically, it was not originally out of the kindness of my heart that I began volunteering. There was a high school graduation requirement to complete 100 hours of volunteer community service within the four years of high school before graduation. The volunteer work ranged from being a teaching assistant, serving as a cultural club President, participating in a United Nations essay contest regarding global warming, among others - The list was long. Many of us would end up graduating with what was called “The President's Volunteer Service Award” issued by the Office of the President of the United States after surpassing an hours milestone.

It is with age that I began to really feel an innate sense to care about and question my presence in this world, and how to give back to the world community. I started with the little things, like making a habit of conscious consumption, daily recycling, or even saving my six inches of hair after a cut to get mailed off for donation.

And how did you become involved with HandsOn Hong Kong?

Due to COVID this year, I had a lot more free time than I would normally. I wanted to do something that was purely good for the community in such difficult times. From time to time, I would go online and search for volunteer opportunities, but many volunteer organizations would ask you to register and commit to a certain number of hours, but without spelling out the exact details of the commitment. They would only call you last-minute when they need an extra pair of hands. What drew me to HandsOn was the amazing public service calendar. It is extremely user-friendly and I am able to filter using search functions based on time, date, location, and then sign up based on what fits me best.

Our team has been really inspired to see your commitment to supporting the community during the crisis. Can you tell us about the relief program you’ve been involved in?

My main involvement has been with the care package delivery program for the isolated elderly. When participating, I would report to a designated community social service center such as neighborhood health clinic, get debriefed by the onsite social worker, and then start unpacking the gift items from their individual cardboard boxes in preparation for delivering goods to the clinic’s long term chronic patients.

These care packages usually consist of a ten to fourteen-item shopping bag of donated goods such as rice, canned beans, packaged noodles, bottles of cooking oil, hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, face masks, and other daily necessities. I would be given a list of at least ten recipient flats within the neighborhood where I would need to visit and deliver the care packages to. Volunteers are paired in groups of two so that if the list provided that day was to visit ten flats, another volunteer and I would need to first pack ten of these care packages before we head out together. We would then set out by foot and deliver all the care packages usually within two to three hours.

Once we reach our destination, after distributing the care package, we would have a brief conversation with the elderly recipient on their overall well-being, making sure they are doing well. They are always very happy to see you and I usually wish them “good health” or “身体健康” before moving on to the next flat on the list.

There have been times when volunteers have, understandably, been slightly fearful of joining in-person programs. What has motivated you to keep serving throughout the crisis in Hong Kong?

I think we can all contribute - big or small. I want to keep doing something positive despite these hard times. I was also initially hesitant whether I would be physically capable of carrying all the care packages on my own so I told myself “I’ll go try it once to see”. Luckily, the center I went to provided shopping carts so heavy lifting was no longer a concern on my part. I was also reassured knowing that HandsOn and their frontline charity partners are adopting careful COVID safety precautions as far as they can. I am also paired up with another volunteer each time and I always find the other volunteer to be friendly and willing to help so it is not like you are ever alone in this. I have encouraged friends and family to sign up and to try attending a single volunteer session together with someone first to alleviate any fear or concerns.

Thank you so much for speaking with us and your commitment to serving, you’re a true inspiration. Can you share any experiences you had volunteering this year that were particularly memorable or moving?

The one thing that stuck with me, is that during nearly every volunteer session would I attend, regardless of the center or location, the onsite social workers would express how hard it is to get more volunteers to help out. One even told me they had to call their cousin to help and come in and assist with deliveries that day.

I started sharing a bit on my private social media account and to my surprise, a lot of friends and family started asking me about the volunteering experience, and some of them even became dedicated volunteers themselves. There are so many different things that someone can contribute to via the HandsOn calendar—the opportunities are endless.


Empowering youth through service

Written by: Sue Fertal Toomey
Executive Director at HandsOn Hong Kong

These are unprecedented times for us all—but never more than for young people.

Hong Kong’s turmoil last year heightened stress on youth and split generations among families. A survey released in December 2019 by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups found families divided and relationships strained, with three in 10 young people reporting quarreling with their parents over social and political issues. Lack of social support worsens mental health in youth, provoking feelings of hopelessness. With the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020, fear of the virus, disruption to education and loss of routine and social connection due to school closures and social distancing have led to increased loneliness and anxiety among young people, further straining their connection to society. This is the case in Hong Kong and in cities around the world.

Even before the health crisis and political turmoil, studies had shown that our young people were highly stressed, with one-in-three young Hongkongers suffering from anxiety or depression. This is a crisis that transcends socio-economic or cultural boundaries, as noted in a Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service study of 15,560 secondary students that found consistent trends across 37 Hong Kong schools—with 53% noting symptoms of depression. According to local charity MindHK, if depression is left to develop, it can lead to isolation from family and friends as well as risk-taking behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse. It can also have a profound impact on school performance, which ultimately will affect later options for studies and careers.

No matter where you live, the teenage years are a time when individuals develop their identity and sense of self. In Hong Kong, teens report feeling little control over their lives, with parents overscheduling activities and teachers overloading with work. The high-pressured, micro-managed life leaves teens feeling a lack of control. Experts say that what young people need is to feel a sense of ownership, empowerment and agency in their own lives.

Research indicates that doing good for others is one way to boost self-esteem and health—especially mental health. A HandsOn Hong Kong study conducted with consumer research firm Nielsen showed that 83% of active volunteers reported that serving the community had a positive impact on their overall well-being by reducing stress and feelings of loneliness. 82% reported feeling empowered. The benefits of volunteering from a young age are also well documented, with studies indicating that community service plays an important role in warding off depression and anxiety in youth, promoting a sense of balance and perspective and removing youth from the pressures of daily life.

Other emotional benefits associated with giving one’s time include building self-esteem and social connectedness. Young people who volunteer have reported feeling that they develop confidence, leadership skills and an understanding of citizenship that carries into adulthood. Some studies have even shown that youths who volunteer just one hour a week are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.

Certainly, volunteering in itself cannot be the answer to positive mental health. Mind HK notes that ‘poor mental health can arise from many common environmental, social and personal stressors, including stressful life events, lack of regular exercise, alcohol and substance misuse, financial difficulties, living in public housing and chronic illness.’ But it can offer a vehicle to creating a better support system, enabling youth to engage directly with their community—improving social empathy and social trust and providing a sense of belonging.

At HandsOn Hong Kong, we recognize the importance of engaging young people as volunteers and this is what inspired us to launch YOUTH EMPOWERED, a year-round program that equips secondary students to develop and lead service programs—created especially for youth volunteers.

International Volunteer Day is around the corner. Each year, on December 5, the United National General Assembly promotes volunteerism, encourages governments to support volunteer efforts and recognizes volunteer contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local, national and international levels. What an ideal time to encourage our young people to step out of their busy, scheduled lives and help someone in need. It can be through official channels such as HandsOn Hong Kong's service calendar or just by showing an act of kindness to a neighbor or stranger on the street—socially distanced of course!



Corporate Volunteering during COVID-19


During the outbreak of COVID-19, when teams are physically separated and corporate volunteering activities are postponed—many of our partners were asking us how best they can help. Thus our program team at HandsOn has come up with a few ideas that many of our partners found useful:

1. Encourage Staff to Use their Skills

Employees with expertise in areas such as finance, HR, translation or marketing are well placed to provide lasting impact to an under-resourced local charity. Many of our nonprofit partners are working through COVID-19 crisis-related planning and communications, and urgently need support from volunteers with specialized skills.

Check out our skills-based volunteering page regularly for volunteer opportunities with professional skills—it’s a great way to safely serve the community from home or remotely.

2. Organize a Drive to Raise Emergency Items

Since February, we have compiled a list of our charity partners’most urgent needs during the COVID-19 crisis. To date we have directed tens of thousands of masks, hand sanitizers and alcohol wipes as well as bulk deliveries of rice and canned food to charities in need. But many needs remain. We encourage corporates to share this list with employees—or invite staff to bring items into your office for a volunteer team to sort and arrange delivery to a charity in urgent need.

3. Support HandsOn’s COVID-19 Relief Programs

The physical and emotional impact of this crisis will be long-lasting and some Hong Kong’s most vulnerable are suffering more than ever before. At HandsOn,we have been working hard to develop new ways to volunteer during this time of crisis. Since April, we have launched several relief programs, including phone call support to self-isolating elderly individuals and care package delivery to low-income individual and families, and we are working towards delivering more than 3,000 relief packages to low-income households by the end of summer. We highly recommend you to share the calendar link with your teams so they can sign up to volunteer.

4. Unite Teams in Support of the Community

At a time when many are feeling helpless, uniting teams in support of a cause can be empowering. If your company financially matches employee donations, take this opportunity to let them know and set up a fundraising page for staff to support relief efforts for HandsOn or another service organization.

5. Fundraise for a Good Cause

Every act of kindness no matter how small, can make a difference. For the retail and service industry, you can invite your customers to show their care for our community by making a purchase during these challenging times. Partner with HandsOn Hong Kong or another service organization on a fundraising campaign to donate a percentage of sales or all proceeds from specific items to support COVID-19 relief efforts. It’s a wonderful way to engage your customers in supporting the community!

6. Virtual Volunteering

COVID-19 is forcing people to think and act differently. This includes finding ways to support the community while operating remotely—from home or office. As the situation has calmed down in the last few months and once companies resumed operations, we have already seen teams from corporates offering virtual career coaching for ethnic minority students in Hong Kong and creating educational videos for students with intellectual disability, supported by our program team. It’s such a great way to build social connection while we are physically separated from each other. Please refer to the graphic below for more ideas.



Hong Kong Study: Volunteering Improves Wellness, Self-esteem and Productivity

In a world of a health crisis, social unrest, and general every-day pressures, mental health is a global concern, and in Hong Kong, it's at its worst level in nearly 10 years. HandsOn Hong Kong and consumer research firm Nielsen undertook a study to examine what impact volunteering may have on well-being. Of the 524 volunteers surveyed, 82% reported reduced feelings of depression after volunteering and 86% of working respondents felt corporate volunteering "helps bind teams together".

While 70% of working respondents' companies organize volunteering for their employees, our audience expressed that staff awareness levels of these initiatives are often low. Michael Lee, Managing Director of Nielsen Hong Kong, advocated a top-down approach to promoting these programs where senior management leads by example. Download the research findings.



Crowdfunding in a crisis: Lessons learned

Full transparency: pre-COVID-19, HandsOn Hong Kong had pretty modest success with online donation appeals. In hindsight, we probably never embraced the collective spirit and conveyed the sense of urgency needed for successful Crowdfunding. Our appeals were usually quite vague and lacking a plan of action.

At the end of April HandsOn launched a COVID-19 appeal raising funds for relief Care Packages for vulnerable families and individuals including children with disabilities and their families, low income elderly, people with mental illness, vulnerable women, and other groups. Please click here to see the page. Service was of course at the heart of this effort with each pack ultimately being delivered or distributed by a caring volunteer.

We met our target within five days and by the end of our two-week campaign, we raised US$35,769 online plus an offline donation of US$96,153 from a foundation. Exceeding our original goal by 933%.

We learned many lessons along the way! We hope others may benefit from these too:

1. Focus on relief for the community—forget overhead's. Almost all charities are struggling and relying on donations, and many of us are also asking for these. To stand apart, focus your Crowdfunder 100% on relief—this will spotlight how critical your organization’s work is and ignite the interest of other funders. We adopted a 'build it and they will come' attitude with this campaign, trusting that the community of volunteers, corporate partners and foundations we fostered over the years would come through with the other kinds of funding support our team needs. For us, this seems to be the case.

2. Be incredibly specific. Our goal was to raise funds for at least 315 relief Care Packages for low-income households, based on those we knew needed immediate help. Each pack costs US$45 and is substantial enough for one week. We listed every single food and hygiene item we were including so donors could calculate the value for themselves. Interestingly, many donations came in these increments: $45, $225, $450.  

3. Have a plan of action. We had already lined up five partner charities with disadvantaged service users in need of food assistance and hygiene items. We also knew need how many packs these households needed right away. All this information was published on our Crowdfunding page and in our eDM appeal. As soon as our first packs were ready to be distributed we immediately began recruiting volunteers, including our donors.

4. Run your campaign for 2-4 weeks. Industry-standard for Crowdfunding appeals is four weeks but this is a crisis and needs are critical and immediate. For an appeal providing immediate sustenance, it might seem odd to run for longer than 2 weeks—if you need to raise funds covering rent for a shelter then 4 weeks makes sense.  We received donations throughout our 2-week campaign, peaking at around 1 week.  Using Stripe as our payment platform allowed us to receive funds and start purchasing relief items while our campaign was still running.

5. Thank your donors. Every single one of our donors received a carefully-crafted, personal email thanking them, sharing our progress and reminding them of the impact they were allowing us to make. We added them into our donation tracker sheet and the directors in our team took turns to send a batch of emails every four days. 

Photo credit: Kat Yukawa



Safely serving during a health crisis

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, communities have been struggling to provide protection and services to the disadvantaged groups they support due to limited staff and resources and the physical barriers of self-isolation and social distancing. This has left their service users without basic necessities and essential hygiene items and often quite literally isolated. More than ever, volunteers are needed to support the community's vulnerable but how can we empower them to play this role while ensuring their own safety?

1. Introduce virtual volunteering opportunities. Be creative to provide online service to people who are in need of mental, educational, or social support. HandsOn Hong Kong has utilized technology to connect our volunteers to people who are isolated--by the phone for vulnerable and Zoom to provide visual storytelling for hearing impaired children.

2. Provide skills-based volunteering as a way to serve remotely. With many people spending more time at home, it's valuable to connect skills-based volunteers with short-term projects that they can work on remotely. HandsOn Hong Kong put additional emphasis on our recruitment of volunteers with specialized skills, as a way to support nonprofits working through COVID-19 crisis-related planning, communications, or other projects while serving from home. We suggest 3-5 hours per week as being optimal for these opportunities. Please click here to see the recruitment page.

3. Encourage drives to raise basic food necessities and essential hygiene items.  Be a platform for sharing the community's needs with the people who want to help. When the crisis hit Hong Kong, we contacted our 100+ under-resourced charity partners' to establish their immediate needs and published these emergency itemsTends of thousands of these items have been directed to these charities. 

4. Develop a volunteer safety policy for in-person programs. Develop your volunteer safety policy based on local health authority guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Consider inviting medical professionals such as Medecins san Frontieres to review and input on the policy -- they were very happy to do so in Hong Kong. Here is HandsOn Kong's volunteer safety policy.Then implement all the off-line programs with your well-developed volunteer safety policy in place, strictly following several key points:

  • Limit the number of volunteers per program to allow for maintaining appropriate social distance
  • Conduct temperature checks on all volunteers
  • Provide masks for volunteers and distribute upon arrival, insisting that all comply
  • Invite volunteers to wash hands upon arrival and provide hand sanitizer for frequent cleaning throughout the program
  • It may seem obvious, but insist that volunteers do not attend if they feel sick or have a fever


2017 STUDY: Appealing to emotions to trigger repeat volunteering

1,000 Hong Kong citizens aged 15 to 54 took part in this October 2017 survey, sharing their views and habits regarding giving time. 70% of respondents said they would like to volunteer but less than a third of them had actually done any volunteering in the past 12 months. Michael Lee, MD of Nielsen identified 'time' and 'wanting to see my impact on society' as the biggest barriers and opportunities for driving participation. Carving out time for employees to volunteer during working hours would help address this as would showing people how their volunteering contribution can help affect change. Download the research findings.