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Sustainability: Keeping Volunteers Engaged


Learning Objectives: Gain an understanding of ways to promote program sustainability and long-term volunteer commitment.
Maintaining momentum is important to the success of any effort. Why do volunteers do what they do? There’s some reward for them, whether it’s personal satisfaction in helping others, fun and fellowship, or a combination of many factors.


Brainstorm ways to maintain volunteer commitment and involvement.

Ideas to Keep Your Mitigation Program Moving
When it comes to your community, no one knows it better than you. So, you can come up with the ideas that will work best to keep your mitigation program alive and exciting. Here are some things that other communities have found successful.


1. Start small. Identify your group’s capacity, and focus on achievable goals.
2. Continue to identify interesting, fun, and effective mitigation projects for CBO/FBO volunteers.
3. Actively work to recruit the involvement of additional CBOs/FBOs to spread the workload and keep fresh ideas flowing.
4. Set up a system to rotate leadership to maintain interest and avoid burnout. Establish a way to continuously recruit committee chairs and members, as well as identify candidates to fill other leadership roles. Try to avoid choosing the same people that do everything else in your organization; these people are often overburdened. Instead of recruiting them directly, ask their advice and suggestions for good candidates.
5. Quantify and document the benefits of your volunteer mitigation program over specific time
periods. For example, “This year, thanks to you, we were able to reduce the risk of flood damage in 100 households. By raising appliances in the homes of the elderly, as much as $____ could be saved in the event of a flood.”
6. Assure your group’s achievements are celebrated and that volunteers and partners are recognized regularly.
7. Have “the next project” lined up at the conclusion of any major activity. The activity itself can be used to recruit and involve new groups and individuals in your volunteer mitigation program.
8. Let your CBO/FBO volunteers know that some activities need to be performed more than once, such as vegetation removal and ditch clearing. Such an activity can set the stage for an annual or semi-annual event.

9. Develop an annual calendar of planned mitigation events.
10. Become part of something bigger. Tie one of your mitigation activities into a major community event or celebration. Example: Combine a pre-flood-season ditch or storm drain clearing with a spring community event. Have a fire-prone vegetation “round up” during the annual summer rodeo. And so on!
11. Teach new skills. Volunteers will continue to be involved when they are constantly engaged and learning. Similarly, try to match volunteer tasks with interests—people are often looking for new challenges when volunteering.
12. Continue to diversify your volunteer pool. Involve youth groups and senior groups.
13. Maintain consistency. As much as possible, keep contact information, phone numbers, email, etc. the same over time. This will help recruiting efforts and media relations.
14. Re-evaluate. Constantly revisit your goals and visions. Ensure that they are consistent with the current group’s ideas.
15. Share your success!! Tell the media, tell your friends, and tell FEMA.
Many of the preceding suggestions rely on your group identifying common ground. Understand that groups will have different personalities, as will the individuals within your group. Try to identify the types of people you have in your group, as well as the leadership style that will be most effective in working with them. Here are some short overviews of typical leadership styles

Recognizing Volunteers and Partners

Sourced from FEMA

 
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