Saturday, June 13, 2015

But I can't keep volunteers

I had a conversation with someone recently and their lament was they couldn't keep volunteers and certainly not "those Millennials."  Of course I disagree, as I usually do
First if you are a volunteer manager, what are you doing to take care of your volunteers; remember a volunteer is not coming to do things with you for a check. 
So what keeps them coming back? 
Are you doing things to make their time comfortable? Like this Fire Department in Virginia?
Are you providing them with training ? 
Are you providing them with time to connect with other volunteers?
Are you giving them meaningful experiences/ things to do that matter?

If you can't answer yes to these questions , then the next question is why do you have them?

Go take care of your volunteers

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment

 A new study shows what I have always believed (it worked for me) and what I tell people who ask me about the relationship between volunteering and getting a job - it works. 
The report is here

The report point's out things that matter about finding a job - networks & skills.
By volunteering you are increasing your network! Linked in is great, but it's nothing like making a new contact face to face who can evaluate you, see what you are made of and if you would be a good fit (without interviewing you).  This is especially true if you are volunteering in a market/company you are trying to break into.
While volunteering you are learning/sharpening skills needed on a job. Whether they are new or specific skills or keeping up on software or customer service skills. Learning is good for you.

Another big plus if you are out of work, is gets you out and connects you with real live people. Looking for a job is hard work, and often hard work done alone in front of a screen.  So you volunteer a few hours a week, make an impression on the world and meet new friends and something wonderful will happen.

Need reinforcement ? Another Article from May pointed out some of the same advice.

So lets go out and increase our volunteer rate this new year, especially if you are looking to find a new job or change fields.



Sunday, December 14, 2014

We all need Volunteers

I have never hidden the fact that I am writing about disaster volunteers only.  And of that special group of people, my focus is on those that work in shelters & field hospitals.  Those volunteers require special trust.

I think that some of the most recent experiences in the disaster world have pointed to the fact that we need to look at all people who step forward.  After a disaster there are plenty of things that need to be accomplished and not all of them require a background check.

So as we move forward in our planning for the next event, we should spend some time classifying our needs during a disaster, so that we are prepared when it happens.
So who should be involved in this planning? Emergency Managers, Volunteer Managers and of course your Attorneys.  Well now you know what you need to do, and since the lawyers are involved you should get started now! 

Happy Holiday

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
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 ?