Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Who volunteers?

Who volunteers? This is a large question that you need to look at from a couple of different views, I'll try to not make this too long but its important.
First look at the profile of volunteers over all in your area. Try starting here. Do two things, look at the percentages by age groups and then look at your volunteers. Look at your advertising material. Do they match? Does the demographic match what you see? If so, you aren't done. If not you have some work to do.
You should look at the type of volunteers you want (age, skills, time to give) and go get them! In volunteer management we often recruit in the same old way; because its the way we do it.  Remember it's advertising; if you advertise and only show gray hairs (like me) that is what you will attract. Advertise and use photos of a mix of age, race and sex.  That is what you want to attract.

Now don't send me hate mail saying I am advocating for not attracting baby boomers and older, that's not the point. The point is many people equate volunteer with older Americans! Yes the retiree has more time to volunteer, and they have a great amount of experience. But who will they pass the knowledge to?
And if you are looking for sand baggers for flood season, AARP may not be the group you want to focus on.

So what does your city profile look like?

Disaster Dave

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What is a volunteer ?

According to  a volunteer is "a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking."
A volunteer is not an employee, nor a person doing work under contract.  A volunteer for many reasons is a person who decides on their own to work for your organization in some capacity. Seems pretty simple doesn't it?  Well yes it does! Which brings us to Why are they there asking to do work for you?
When I am with other volunteer managers this is a topic of conversation with many levels of understanding. And why is this important? 
It is important so you look in the right place for the type of volunteer you want!
It is important so you know what your volunteers expect from you!
It is important so you know what your volunteers will do for you!

These are some of the themes I will explore over the next few weeks, in an effort to help those in emergency management who are not full time volunteer managers (few of us are). So that when you need those disaster volunteers they will be there and you will have the processes and relationships in place to make it happen.

Disaster Dave

Why Disaster Volunteers?

For a while now I have had a couple of holes in what I do and how I feel about my work. This blog is a chance for me to fill one of those holes.  I read other blogs on volunteers in museums, hospital, etc.  What I don't see is anyone talking about disaster volunteers, who I think have as many differences as similarities with all other volunteer groups.
For the last six years I have been a volunteer with the Red Cross (and still am), been a volunteer program manager with the Red Cross and now manage the volunteer program for a local government.
Two caveats:
  1. I don't have all the answers, so feel free to jump in and join the conversation
  2. While much of what I have learned about volunteer program management these are my own thoughts and opinions, not my past or present employers.
This blog will cover four areas (to begin with):
  1. Part one: Why volunteers volunteer
  2. Part two: Volunteer program management
  3. Part three: How to make a volunteer program self-sustaining with minimal support
  4. Part four: Issues & Challenges and how to fix them

I hope that I am informative and interesting enough to hold your attention.
Disaster Dave