Managing Spontaneous Community Volunteers in Disasters

While history has identified a need for improved coordination during emergencies, it has also demonstrated that community volunteers positively impact their neighborhoods during times of crisis. Laying out the rationale and process by which emergency managers, community leaders, and non-governmental aid organizations can effectively collaborate and integrate citizen response, Spontaneous Community Volunteers in Disasters explains how to engage, train, and utilize spontaneous unaffiliated community volunteers (SUCV).

The book prepares leaders to integrate local volunteers into any scale emergency response. Protocols and flexible management solutions are outlined to ensure safe and effective planning and execution. Work templates provided can be modified to suit the needs of any community. This accessible manual provides the tools to:

  • Assess your agency’s role, tasks, and challenges to meet community needs in a disaster.
  • Build a plan for managing SUCV's by developing internal and external protocols
  • Develop effective spot screening and selection methods 
  • Engage community members in information-sharing and outreach campaigns 
  • Consider policies and procedures that create relevant roles for volunteers and community groups to build a resilient team for disaster recovery
  • Provide National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliant answers to address common barriers to using SUCVs 

Combining field experience and psychosocial research, the book makes a strong case as to why community involvement in disaster response will have a positive impact on a community’s resilient recovery. Praise for Spontaneous Community Volunteers in Disasters: All emergency management coordinators can benefit from this book. —Howard Butt, New Jersey State Police, State CERT Coordinator 

Lisa Orloff has done an excellent job in both identifying a significant opportunity in emergency response and meticulously outlining how that opportunity can best be leveraged. —Dr. Michael Chumer, New Jersey Institute of Technology 

The Alliance for Nonprofit Management has nominated the book for the Terry McAdam Award. This award is bestowed upon the Committee's choice for the most inspirational and useful new book published for the nonprofit sector.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the minimum number of participants needed for a successful workshop: 25


What is the maximum number of participants: 100

When do you need the final headcount?

7 days before the training date

Do the participants need to register with you?
Yes. To ensure the quality of the program each participant should fill out a survey located at www.resiliencyadvisors .com

What happens if we do not meet the minimum?
The training will be rescheduled and any nonrefundable expenses will be paid by the host city.

What type of facility is needed?
A room with chairs, a projector, laptop that can accommodate a thumb drive with a program that runs PowerPoint, a screen.

What kind of participants should attend?
Volunteer Managers, CERT managers, those responsible for activities in disaster response where they will interact with the public, local leaders.

What is the training based off of?
Managing Spontaneous Community Volunteers in Disaster Response in addition recent lessons learn and constant updates.

  • What information do you need from me?
  • Official Name of the Host and Host Agency
  • Location of the training (Address to enter into Navigation)
  • Suggestion on hotel and local information
  • Closest airport/train station
  • Any information that would help enrich the training and each one RA delivers in modified based on your feedback

Outreach Strategies- Friendly Suggestions

The days of traditional outreach are over. Our audience is inundated with emails, tweets, Facebook alerts, and Linked-In pings, all that before they hit their desk a 9am. That’s a lot to compete with!!

We have found that workshop planning has been a challenge for some of our clients as the staff this task is delegated to so we have created a cheat sheet on some best planning practices.  Let’s start from the beginning, choosing the right date. If at all possible use a tool such as Doodle to poll your attendees to see what date and time is most convenient for them. Offer diverse options weekday, weeknight, and weekends. By including them early on you are meeting their scheduling needs and also securing their participation and commitment.

Training minus 2 months

After you have chosen the date and have secured your venue spread the word. Create your message and post the information on all your social media outlets including your website, Facebook etc. If your community prefers a flyer or postcard make and distribute them.
Ensure the information includes:

  • Name of Training
  • Date
  • Time: Start and End
  • Location
  • About the Training
  • About the Host
  •  A way to register (Eventbrite works great)
  • A web address to where they can find out more information. Don’t have one? Contact me and I will create a page on our website specifically for your training. Need help with registering your participants? We can help with that as well.

Training minus 1.5 months

  • Check on your registration. Post a new blog or tweet on something about the training. Perhaps you will have a raffle.

Training minus 1 month

  • Check on your numbers and with Resiliency Advisors to ensure your participants are filling out their survey. 
  • Post a new blog or tweet on something about the training. Perhaps someone of interest will make the opening speech.

Training minus 15 days

  • Ok it’s getting close! Check your participant numbers and with Resiliency Advisors to ensure your participants are filling out their survey. 
  • Post a new blog or tweet recapping the highlights. 
  • Check your venue and ensure all the IT is available

Training minus 10 days

  • Check your participant numbers and with Resiliency Advisors to ensure your participants are filling out their survey. 
  • Post a new blog or tweet recapping the highlights. 
  • You may want to go through your list and call a few of your members. 
  • Send out a reminder to everyone that has registered

Training minus 7 day

  • Send in the participant list to Resiliency Advisors
  •  Schedule a call to solidify details. 
  • Post a new blog or tweet recapping the highlights.

Training minus 1 day

  • Let’s try old technology here! Ok, not so old, if your participation is low: email each participant individually and confirm their attendance. 
  • If your constituents like phone calls, call them.