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On this page are ideas to help you work more efficiently with volunteers. There are tips on recruiting, engaging, coordinating, and managing the work of volunteers.

~August 2014 ~


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wordle with list of natural disastersA new report from The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM), “Resilient Communities: Empowering Older Adults in Disasters and Daily Life,” was recently released.  The study addresses increasing rates of natural catastrophic events with a rapidly aging population.  The report looks at the vulnerabilities of older adults, but also the role many older adults can play in leading and supporting their communities during disasters.
The report draws on data collected immediately after Superstorm Sandy, and interviews with older adults, experts and leaders of community-based organizations in affected neighborhoods. The purpose was to formulate a series of key lessons and actionable recommendations on disaster preparedness for seniors.
While “Resilient Communities” studied the impact and role of older adults in emergencies in New York City, most of the lessons and recommendations can apply to communities across the nation.

To request the report contact dtartaglia@tartagliacommunications.com

The study was funded by the New York Community Trust and the Altman Foundation.

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         The radio awakens you to learn that there is an event with potentially harmful impacts on your organization.  Surprises are inevitable in the arena of volunteerism.  You and the corps of volunteers need to move fast.  A trained Rapid Response Team (RRT) of volunteer advocates can move into action quickly, but only if they are trained and prepared.  Here are the steps to organize a RRT.

1.  Rapid Response Teams should be an ongoing functional part of the way the organization manages itself. 

a.  Teams can be appointed by a board president and executive director, or chief administrator.
b.  Members need clearly delineated set of expectations—guidelines, position description
c.  Members are trained to handle potential crises.
d.  Individuals who are appointed represent the board of directors, subject matter specialists, staff, and volunteers
e.  Ideal size is 3 -5 members; with potential specialists who serve only for certain issues
f.  Have a flexible enough structure to appoint an emergency rapid response team for a topic not previously planned for
g.  The group needs authority to mobilize staff, volunteers, and fiscal resources

2.  Train the team on issuescartoon figures standing on shoulders

a.  Make a list of issues with the to potential disrupt services or impact funding –including natural disasters. (For example, how can you meet payroll if the office is flooded?)
b.  Get experts to train the team on each of the issues. 
c.  Outline who controls information, resources, or influence related to each issue—funders, legislative or funding bodies, elected officials, law enforcement.
d.  Stress the control of information to the media.  Work this out in advance
e.  Appoint members to work with people from other organizations who might be impacted by the various issues.
f.  Make a checklist to determine when the organization will take action.
g.  Provide the group with written material from groups or individuals who disagree with the organization on a particular issue.
h.  Create a monitoring process on the issue, even when the crisis subsides

3.  Determining a course of action

a. After information gathering, develop a mechanism to determine a course of action.
b. Seek approval from the board of directors or appropriate paid staff
c. Discuss a range of possible actions
d. Lobbying
e. Advocacy
f. Mobilizing supporters
g. Joining other organizations
h. Media outreach

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