When the much-anticipated COVID vaccine arrived in the United States in early 2021, along with a renewed sense of optimism, the Governor of the State of New York promptly tasked the Finger Lakes Region with vaccinating 1.2 million people.
In response, the Finger Lakes COVID-19 Vaccine Hub was formed to implement a comprehensive vaccination plan. This plan would ensure equitable, transparent, and efficient immunization of at least 70% of the adult residents of the Finger Lakes Region.
The undertaking was tremendous, and it quickly became apparent that volunteers were needed to bolster vaccination efforts. So, United Way of Greater Rochester began mobilizing crisis response volunteers across the Finger Lakes community. The organization teamed up with Galaxy Digital to assemble the Vaccine Volunteer Force.
Read on to learn about how this United Way organization, Get Connected by Galaxy Digital, and a force of skilled volunteers bolstered the region’s vaccination rollout.
About United Way of Greater Rochester
United Way of Greater Rochester connects thousands of volunteers with hundreds of local nonprofits. In celebration of Day of Caring (their largest volunteer event of the year), the organization places over 2,500 volunteers with 100 nonprofits in a single day.
Coordinating thousands of volunteers is no simple task. That’s why, in early 2020, United Way of Greater Rochester streamlined its volunteer program by implementing Get Connected volunteer management software by Galaxy Digital. Today, the organization engages more than 8,500 volunteers, and these volunteers have logged nearly 11,000 hours of community impact through their Get Connected site.
Taking Rapid Action When COVID-19 Strikes
When COVID-19 struck, Greater Rochester, like many areas across the nation, called upon nonprofits like United Way to tackle the community’s changing and most pressing needs. This rapid crisis response effort required an immediate shift in how community organizations leverage resources and manage volunteers.
Having relied on Excel spreadsheets to manage Medical Reserve Corps volunteers previously, and tasked with an ambitious vaccination plan, the Finger Lakes region needed a faster way to mobilize volunteers fast.
So, United Way of Rochester contacted Galaxy Digital to explore Get Connected as the solution for managing the Vaccine Volunteer Force quickly and effectively.
Walt Dickinson, Galaxy Digital’s CEO, promptly assembled a consultation team, which included Product Manager Olivia Roach and Director of Customer Experience, Ali Pettigrew. The team lept into action and, within 24 hours, organized a meeting with United Way of Greater Rochester’s key players.
For both parties, the partnership was an ideal solution, “We recognized immediately the work Jamie and her team were doing was critical to the health of their community and outside their standard use of our application,” Dickinson explains. “Our focus at Galaxy Digital is to empower those in the nonprofit space that are doing ‘good’ for their community. To not give extra help at this time would have gone against our core values.”
“The United Way of Greater Rochester is an amazing organization, and we are proud to be a trusted partner.” – Walt Dickinson, CEO of Galaxy Digital.
Together, United Way of Rochester and Galaxy Digital determined the best course of action. United Way of Rochester had already achieved success with their existing Get Connected volunteer management platform, so the solution was clear: launch a new, standalone Get Connected volunteer site dedicated solely to coordinating the organization’s Vaccine Volunteer Force.
Recruitment and scheduling needs were complex and would require a centralized system for registering volunteers and keeping them updated on vaccination needs across the Finger Lakes. What’s more, the organization had to ensure only qualified volunteers were applying for opportunities according to a detailed process distinct from their ServeNY counterparts. The system would also have to accommodate and automatically sort volunteers into skilled volunteer groups and PODs based on expertise and location. And finally, the task force required a user-friendly system for capturing specialized data and producing live reports.
Despite new challenges and uncharted territory, United Way of Greater Rochester was able to leverage the versatility of Get Connected to continue managing volunteers efficiently and without any disruption in services.
A dedicated, centralized volunteer management site allowed the United Way and its partners to make customizations based on the immediate needs of the task force.
Using their Get Connected platform, United Way of Rochester and their community partners were able to intentionally manage current Medical Reserve Corps volunteers while also recruiting and connecting new volunteers with nonprofits throughout the region.
Throughout the process, United Way of Greater Rochester didn’t have to go it alone. The Get Connected Customer Support team was close at hand, providing consultations and strategy calls, developing custom data reports, and providing detailed documentation for implementing the new site quickly and effectively.
According to United Way of Greater Rochester’s President & CEO, Jaime Saunders, “the extra support from the Galaxy Digital team allowed us to set up a new service line to meet our community’s most pressing needs. Galaxy Digital’s Get Connected platform has been a critical part of our community’s crisis response.”
Within a week, the new Get Connected site was up and running. Within four weeks, the site filled 170 volunteer shifts. And since January, nearly 3,000 volunteers have registered with the Vaccine Volunteer Force through United Way of Greater Rochester by way of their Get Connected site.
Ann, a volunteer on the force, says it best, “I volunteer because the task of vaccinating the whole country during this unprecedented time in history feels like an all-hands-on-deck moment. Being a part of this has energized me. When I see the smiles on people’s faces as they get vaccinated, it is so uplifting.”
Volunteers like Ann remind us why these partnerships are vital to the community. “I think it gives people hope and a perspective that things are finally getting better,” she concludes.
United Way and their community partners have set a new standard for a truly unprecedented scenario. With the help of industry-leading volunteer management technology and coordinated action, the coalition assembled an impressive squad of dedicated individuals who administered thousands of life-saving vaccines, a feat that will not go unrecognized.
Want to learn more about how Get Connected can help your organization? Get a free demo.