Sunday, April 6, 2014

Are you a danger to yourself & others

Thursday I did a presentation to a group of Nurses at one of our local universities and was asked what the best way to help was? I responded "Be part of the solution not part of the problem by registering and getting trained with an organization" (Hopefully mine, but really anywhere).  

Then Friday this article popped up in my reader "Untrained Volunteers May Do Harm as Well as Good During Disasters, Johns Hopkins Study Finds".
This is one of my nightmares in my world (volunteer management for a Public Health organization), dealing with lots of people I do not know or can not validate that they are who they say they are.  The whole idea behind joining an organized group and getting at least a modicum of training in NIMS and ICS goes a long way in organizing from the start.  

Dollars to doughnuts the same people who show up as spontaneous volunteers are the same ones that said they didn't have time to volunteer (but now do)

As Bill Boyd points out in his recent blog post "The Buck Stops With Them" it is his nightmare too.

My point is, if you are not in an organized disaster response organization, you should be!  Here are some benefits:
  1. Great training opportunities - you will get to participate in some awesome opportunities and see behind the curtain
  2. Fellowship - you will be around other like minded volunteers
  3. Able to help in disasters
  4. And most of all you will not appear in my nightmares; you might help me solve it by being part of the solution.
Thank you

A beginning list of organizations to join (there are more)

Medical Reserve Corps - Not just for medical volunteers

Community Emergency Response Teams

American Red Cross 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

You asked they came - Volunteer Resource Guide

Thanks for attending my presentation at Partners in Emergency Preparedness in April.  During the class I referenced a few sites which I have placed her for your use:

  Trend Reports
Corporation for National & Community Service  Lots of Stats on Volunteer Service
Disaster Volunteers A blog about disaster volunteers
IS– 244a Developing &Managing Volunteers Learning to manage volunteers
Volunteer Calculator  Allows you to figure out what the $$$ value of your volunteers is - great for reports

FaceBook - I don't really need to tell you about Face Book do I ?

Wordle just a fun web tool; dump your volunteer plan into it and see what word got used the most.

Volunteer Match - Another great resource for volunteers

Idealist - A great place to look for volunteers (or your next job)

Sign up Genius - My favorite FREE scheduling web tool, I use this exclusively to schedule for the Public Health Reserve Corps

Doodle -A great tool for finding a common date to meet.

Drop Box - Great way to store documents, pictures, instructions and just send the link for that folder to your volunteers

Monday, March 10, 2014

Know your numbers

I took over a program 4 years ago that had too many poorly defined steps to entry.  I did an audit to decide what really needed to be done to enter the program, below is a before and after map:

Information session(1 hr) > Packet (30 Minutes) > 2 online classes (6 hours) > Shot Records > Take home test > Orientation (2 Hour) > Background Check > Photo > Badge >

Orientation (Includes Photo & packet) (1.5 Hr) > 2 Online Classes (6 hours) > Background Check >Badge

What changed, I combined the Information session and Orientation, dropped the shot records and take home test.  Everything else is required.  But it stream lined the process not only for my volunteers who used to have to come downtown twice and find parking. But also for me (instead of 2 late nights or weekend per group its one)!

And now I know my numbers!  I know that 40% of people who show up for orientation will make it through the process (mostly because they  can't make time for the 2 three hour classes).  And as I have written before , I'm okay with that.

So Saturday I had 24 people show up and after 30 days 10 will make it (I like to round up). Why is this important?
  • So I don't beat myself up waiting for everyone to make it through
  • As my program grows, I have reasonable expectations of how much.  Thursday I have 65 people signed up for Orientation (if they all show up) in thirty days I will have 26 new volunteers.
But wait what happened to the rest?
  • Got too busy
  • Bad time managers
  • Decided after Orientation this wasn't for them
  • I talk pretty clearly about how in depth our background is (I have never had anyone not pass; I believe some people self select out so as not to be turned down)
So do you know your numbers ?


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Volunteer issues or, I really don't need your help

What do you do when a volunteer goes out of bounds; either in representing the organization (where/how you don't want to be represented) or asking for things you do not want (money, help, changes). 
First its good to understand as a citizen the volunteer can do anything they want, ask for things, and talk to government employees as a citizen, what they can not do is speak for your organization (unless you assigned her that task)
Eventually this is going to happen to all of us, no matter how implicit we make our rules.  I do not have all the answers, but this seems like a good path:
  1. You treat it like an employee issue, with graduated levels of intervention.
o   You of course want to start at the lowest level, and this typically could be an email, or a sit down chat about the incident and how it is affecting your mission and/or time.  Thank him for caring and maybe help him find other channels. (Make sure you document the conversation in your calendar)
o   If it continues, then you may have to get more stringent and bring in your HR folks (they know the laws) and and/or your supervisor.  Explain again your policies and why they are in place and how the organization operates.  Make sure they understand they are free to represent their opinions and beliefs, but are not free to project them on the organization. (Document)
o   You will want to involve HR if it continues,this is someplace you don’t want to tread alone; but if you have made yourself clear and documented all steps, it may be time for the volunteer to leave the organization. Yes volunteers can be let go.

2.     The second thing you should do is make sure you have been clear and have not in anyway asked her (or made her think you are asking) for help with the matter at hand.

3.     You may also want to reach out to anyone contacted by the volunteer and make sure they understand your policies and what you want to do.
Questions? Comments?


Friday, October 11, 2013

What is your plan B for volunteer management

Most government offices of emergency management have a plan for donation and volunteer management (the fact that they think those go together is another blog post). 

Many of those plans are written with the considerations that everything else is okay and functioning normally. So what happens when you Plan A doesn't work, as it didn't recently in the attached article?

Lack of Volunteers Leads Wayne to Take the Reigns on Recovery

Remember the agencies you have identified in your plan, Red Cross, 211, Salvation Army, are made up of people in your community and they are affected too. So have a back up plan

If 211 is down, is there another business in town (or outside town) that has multiple lines?

How can you tell people the # to call ? Flyers? Broadcast Radio? TV? 

How do you organize the task, people and hours?

This is much easier to do before the disaster



Monday, September 2, 2013

Donation Management & You

 First off, I know this is a volunteer blog, but who do you suppose ends up running
donation management sites? Could it be that for years, FEMA packaged donation management and volunteer management into the same 2 day class?  Could it be that people speak about donations and volunteers in the same breath? Using this search in Google volunteer & donation management I got 18,200,000 results.  Now granted they will go down hill in their focus, but you get the idea.

Not to regurgitate basic donation management practices of which you can see by using the above search method.  I thought instead I would post this well written article  "Who Is Responsible for the “Second Disaster”?"  

The article talks about some of the changes in donations and how to get them there.  Do we really need peoples old clothes, or do we need to be more surgical and use our technology.  Could we follow some examples and use Amazon Wish Lists
Some of the things this technology fixes right away: 
  • No cash through the mail
  • Don't have to worry about where how to ship it (never saw a Big Brown Truck not deliver)
  • Target what you REALLY need
  • Getting items to people fast
 This is not an endorsement for Amazon, just an endorsement for thinking outside the box and being strategic in our thinking so the picture to the right isn't the end of our next disaster. (


So what can you do? Search out training in donation management and go introduce yourself to you local emergency manager and say "I'm here to help plan for donation management"- I bet they sigh with relief. 


Sunday, August 18, 2013

What happens when the volunteers quit coming

I was in Moore Oklahoma in June and the amount of volunteer help there was staggering as was the need.  But according to this article the volunteers have slowed.  But why is this happening? The need is there, and people don't stop caring.  I do not know, but it worries me that there is a need but not enough help.  So lets look at a couple of things we could do to help ourselves.
We know volunteers want to know what they are doing, who they are helping.  So if you are appealing for volunteers after a disaster make sure you are using SMART when advertising for volunteers to help.
  1. Specific - What is the project (who will it help- put a face on it)
  2. Measurable - What do you expect to be accomplished and how will it fill a need for the face in #1
  3. Attainable - It has to be doable with an end point even if it is something several groups work on. Everyone wants to have a sense of accomplishment in the end
  4. Relevant- This should be easy. We are doing recovery for those who most need it not corporations
  5. Time Bound- Start and stop times
So what else can help?  Just some suggestions:
Ask Groups- Churches, companies employee groups,  Youth groups, etc.  Why? They bring their own management structure which helps free you up to do other things.

Make it easy to volunteer! Do you have a gym and cots where they can crash for the 1-7 days they are there? Can you feed them?  Can you send them the paperwork to fill out in advance?Did you tell them to bring tools, gloves, etc.
Remember they are volunteering, so the easier you can make it the more likely you can get groups in.

We can never depend on the Government to do everything (that's not a political statement). Recovery takes a long time and the long game needs some thought, finesse, planning.
Don't think its a long game? When was Joplin? Look at this STORY

Lets take some time to think about Recovery and how we will get help from volunteer groups now, while its calm