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Hangar10
11-08-2011, 02:39 PM
Just a quick word or two on a subject that we recently discussed in our chapter... organizing volunteers. Our chapter normally sponsors and supports the B-17 and Tri-Motor tour stops, so naturally we ask for volunteers at our meetings. Often times that is where the effort ends until the day of the event. Not every volunteer coordinator handles the process in the same manner, but a couple of pointers that we identified would go a long way in avoiding conflicts and ensuring that everyone knows when they are supposed to work.

1. Start early. Don't wait until the week before the event to try to get volunteers motivated.

2. Starting a roster at chapter meetings is a good way to get the ball rolling, but not everyone can make the meetings. Some members may feel out of touch because the only exposure they have with the chapter is a newsletter, or the occasional pancake breakfast. When calling for volunteers, start an e-mail campaign. It doesn't have to be a bombardment, just compile a group mailing list and ask for volunteers... this will reach a lot more people and might even remind some to check their schedules to see if they can help out. As a alternate (or addition), your chapter's web site forum might be a good place to put the word out and try to recruit volunteers.

3. Follow up with volunteers. Be sure to compile a work roster and distribute to all volunteers. Do this a week or so in advance so that any conflicts can be worked out. Once the roster is nailed down, send out a final copy just prior to the event as a reminder so that everyone will know when they are expected to show up. For those that didn't offer an e-mail address (very few in our group), give them a call to make them feel included and remind them of the event. The week or two leading up to the event is critical, and most people with busy (or even not so busy) lives tend to forget things if they are not reminded.

You will save yourself a lot of extra work if you publish the roster as a common file, such as a PDF. Don't bother sending an Excel file from Office 2010... not everyone is equipped, nor do they want to fool around with OpenOffice.

4. Conduct an after action review. Not immediately when everyone is hot and tired, but perhaps at the next meeting. This could simply be a short report on the event statistics followed by a quick Q&A. Ask for suggestions from the volunteer crew... perhaps there are some good ideas that could be implemented in future events. Either way, it makes the volunteers feel appreciated, which makes it more fun and encourages them to help out in the future.

Group e-mail is a very effective tool. In years past, the only notification or reminder that members had of meetings, breakfasts and events was the monthly newsletter. I have started to send out group reminders the day before our chapter meeting, pancake breakfast and other events. Many people have thanked me for the reminders... and our meeting and breakfast numbers are certainly improved by the effort.

A little extra effort really does equate to a lot more participation, and it makes new or distant members feel included.