b'COMMUNITY| LEGAL SECTOR| 2021SUSTAINABILITY INSIGHTNON LEGAL VOLUNTEERING 2021 AusLSA Member Performance2020-21 has been a difficult year for law firms to effectively deliver their non legal volunteering programs. Non-legal volunteering has traditionally been based on face-to-face engagement which hasnt been practical during the pandemic shutdowns. While some volunteering has pivoted to remote delivery there has been a hibernation. Ninety two percent of AusLSA member firms have programs in place or in development that coordinate skilled and non-skilled non-legal volunteering programs for staff. Fifty percent of these firms allocated paid staff time to participate in volunteering. Eighty four percent actively supported their employees and partners participation on boards and administrative positions in not-for-profit community organisations. The most popular types of volunteering that law firms undertake include Charity Events and Appeals89%Student tutoring and mentoring53%Blood Donations44%Staff secondment29%External Charity enevts24%Only 16 percent of firms with volunteering programs said they monitored the levels of staff participation during the lockdown, but a further 45 percent said they were currently developing systems for future reporting. The average participation rate reduced from forty-one percent in the last pre COVID measure to 35 percent which is an expected result given the impacts of COVID restrictions on volunteer opportunities. Challenges and Opportunities Volunteer programs always benefit from significant and consistent commitment by firms through strong connections to selected programs. More than ever community service organisations lack skilled workers and financial means to build their existing volunteer base and engage with corporates effectively. Thirty percent of organisations were unable to engage their optimal number of volunteers because there were not enough suitable candidates, or the organisation was unable to locate them. It is tragic juxtaposition that while COVID produces an explosion in the demand for health, economic and social support from the most vulnerable in the community, the ability of volunteers to respond is being reduced drastically. The unmet gap cannot be filled with a business as usual approach to how we volunteer. Firms should not just wait for the crisis to abate before restarting their existing programs.Adjustments to volunteering roles may include:engaging with organisations that firms have a relationship or alignment with to assess their developing needsengage with Emergency Volunteering platforms that provide a coordinated referral service to match volunteers and community organisationswork with partners and service providers to innovate new options to delivering volunteer servicesTrain and equip volunteers in COVID safe workingmaintain engagement with volunteers in your firm to respect the strong social connections return to pre-pandemic or new normal operations. Your volunteers will likely have formed, and these connections are important to maintainvolunteering Australia is urging all Volunteer Involving Organisations to prepare further for how COVID-19 will disrupt operations including updating or creating a business continuity plan. Several resources are available to help organisations undertake this planning. Visit your State or Territory volunteering peak body for further information andrelaxing and service or contractual obligations related to NGOsThe growth of the community partnerships model applies volunteering activities in a strategic way that makes commitments and investments based on the needs of organisations and to achieve agreed objectives.This approach can provide a greater opportunity to focus in a more agile and responsive way to deliver programs and activities that meet the challengers of COVID.54'