Sunday, January 20, 2013

So you found them, now what?

You have done the work to find your new volunteer(s), what do you do next?
 Have them read a rule book (yawn), talk on the phone (not personal enough); have them watch an online orientation from home (seriously). Now I know there may be good reasons to use one of these methods; but I can't think of any!
Your volunteers came to you because of two things: 
1. They want to do, to be, to make a difference
 and/or 2. In a small way depending on your recruiting system, they came because of you and want to meet you
I am a firm believer in looking my new folks in the eye and telling them what I expect of them and what they can expect of me/my program. I want to see them and they want to see me.
And yes we have a lot to do as volunteer managers, so I am going to outline what I do and then some riffs you can use to help if you think its too much. 
My program has no advertising budget, and virtually no support from our internal public affairs group. Yet with a group of over 400 volunteers we still orient 10-20 new volunteers every month. The important distinction is orient; only about 75% of those who attend orientation finish the process and I'm okay with that (more later). Once a month (Thursday night twice per quarter and Saturday mid morning for the other) we hold an orientation beginning at 530 and ending around 700 PM (Saturday 1000-1130). 
What my PowerPoint orientation looks like:
  • ·      Where the MRC came from

  • ·      What it is

  • ·      What it isn't

  • ·      How our unit functions and fits into the big picture

  • ·      Why its important they register now - not after something happens
  • ·      What we expect from them
  • ·      What they can expect from us (Our promise)
  • ·      
Protection under the laws (Very important for licensed volunteers)
  • ·      Personal & Family preparedness
  • ·      What our unit does (activities so far this year & planned)
  • ·      Reoccurring medical missions

  • ·      Training and exercise
  • ·      
What kind of equipment we have to serve
  • ·      Partnerships for deployments - Red Cross and City disaster sheltering (Last year our volunteers served over 1,200 hours touching people that needed help- not training)
  • ·      Questions
  • ·      My last ask is join us on Face book - talks to us (ideas, complaints)
  • ·      If you like what you hear tell your friends and co workers about us (My advertising is here)
I feel like this gives my potential volunteers enough information to know what they are getting into.
So now to the 25% drop rate; they must go home and complete IS 100 and IS 700 before they can become active. Once that is completed, we do the background check and issue a badge with an EW # on it (and a cool fleece MRC Vest). I remind them a couple of times, if no response I transfer them to the ESAR VHP and let them know they can rejoin at any time. It is better to know I have a smaller number of committed volunteers than think I have 4,000 volunteers. 
(More later about how I am sure I really have 400+ volunteers)
  • My area is too big for me to go to all the volunteers- then how can you provide supervision? Oh you use a senior volunteer in that county, area, cool. Let them do the Face-to-Face orientation- great connection point.
  • The volunteer is too busy - Then I submit if they can't give up a couple of hours, they won't show up for a real disaster.
  • I'm too busy- Suck it up, this is what we do, some days are longer than others, take an extra hour for lunch. Sorry, don't mean to be harsh, but I consider this 1.5 hours a month the best part of my job!
I don't have all the answers, but this works for me and my organization, how do I know? When I call them to serve I have to turn people away. I also am constantly looking for ways to give them a chance to serve while we wait (another blog)
Want to see my orientation? - Connect with me

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