You have spent time and effort to get the volunteer in the door, now keep them there! This blog post at VolunteerHub does a nice job singing the praises of the orientation, not just putting the volunteer to work. While they seem to be aiming at the non-disaster volunteer, it rings true for disaster-volunteers too; we need to do a solid orientation.
The orientation for my MRC takes about 1.5 hours, done monthly. I cover many things; paperwork, history of the MRC, what our unit does (we do several Public Health related missions per month) the laws and how they apply to them in a disaster. But one of the things I do that I think sticks is put up a slide that says:
In 5 minutes or less, tell us-
- Your name
- Whether you are a medical or support volunteer
- Why you are here
- Where you live (my county covers 2,000 square miles and has 37 cities, in 3 zones)
This short talk by the volunteer in front of the other newbie’s (usually 10-12) takes care of introductions, lets them connect with others in their zone, as well as seeing they are like other people (why you are here question).
So don't take a short cut and skip the orientation, make it worth their time to show up at 530 on a work night or a Saturday morning, and give them the opportunity to feel like part of something bigger.
PS: If you are going to be in the Seattle area, I invite you to attend one of my orientations (you will be a guest- no paperwork :))