Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Working together - Like Mutual Aid

Why does it seem that we all recruit and train and activate our volunteer forces alone?

Couldn't we work together, you active and I don't so I come help you and you use my volunteers because they are cross registered? Kinda like Mutual aid?

I have been thinking about this a lot, seems simple, so why don't we do it? Not sure, but some of us do a version of this by cross registering with other agencies.  

In my Area, several Emergency Managers have begun to advertise to their Community Emergency Response Team members (CERT) to consider cross registering with my Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).  This gives me a whole new group of highly trained emergency workers who have been registered and back ground checked with my organization. And in a disaster those are important steps.  So that is one of the ELEPHANTS in the ROOM- Back Ground Check.  
Each agency has a need to reach a particular Back Ground check level as you can see there are many different levels, and for my agency our Risk managers have set a level due to our activity in a disaster (Alternate Care Facility- think peoples belongs, people at risk, medication, etc).
So by cross registering with the agency who has the highest need of back ground checks you can fix that problem.  The American Red Cross fixed this problem internally after Katrina by going with one agency for all Red Cross chapters across the country.

So lets look at the other agencies in our area and ask "How can we make this work?"
  • Background checks- can we find a common ground?
  • Volunteer managers - could we train together and share resources, processes, systems?
  • Volunteer manager teams - could we deploy together to help one in a disaster/event if the other members don't stand up?
 What do you think? Want to try? Let me know how it goes


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. (breezyaftersandy.org)


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.