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CARIBBEAN TRUST-Caribbean Mitigation
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
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
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
12. Continue to diversify your volunteer pool. Involve youth groups and
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