Today’s post about volunteers is by Pat Fish of Golden Retriever Rescue and Adoption of Needy Dogs (GRRAND). It covers many topics, including
- Board members
- Foster families
- Event coordinators
- Misc. volunteer positions
We look forward to your comments on volunteer positions and management.
Without volunteers, most rescue groups would cease to exist. It takes planning and time to build a good volunteer base. As a young rescue, you may feel that any warm body is better than none. But, gradually, as the rescue develops, it becomes apparent of what kind of volunteers you need. We are still refining our procedures; but we strive to match up volunteers to jobs based on their talents and time commitments.
Our biggest source of volunteers comes from other volunteers! With a membership of over 3000 families, we have about 200 active volunteers. If people feel they are valued and respected within an organization, they will pass that on to friends and family.
We also promote volunteerism when home visits are performed, at meet & greet’s, events, fundraisers. Basically, any time we are among a group of people, we will promote volunteerism. For this purpose, we had printed brochures promoting the different activities we do and what the volunteer needs are.
Another method of recruiting is to contact corporations in your area. Many provide benefits to their employees for service to a non profit. This is usually a short term time commitment by the employee
Ads can be taken out in the newspaper, or flyers printed and posted to put in vet offices, pet supply stores, etc. There are many avenues to attract volunteers. What may work in one area may not work in another.
Potential volunteers are then encouraged to complete an application, which basically gives their contact information and field of interest. We provide our application on our website along with the volunteer needs we have. We give a detail job description plus the time commitment needed. The applications are then forwarded to the appropriate team leader to follow up.
At this point, the team leader will mentor and introduce the new volunteer to the position. All volunteers are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement and/or liability waiver. Communication is vital if the volunteers are to be successful. Any problem need to be addressed as soon as possible. If it becomes obvious that the volunteer is not a good fit for the organization, then the only option is to terminate the volunteer.
Board of Directors. Our ten member board of directors consist of all volunteers who meet monthly. Our focus is on fundraising, and short and long term planning. Each board member is responsible for a function or program of our rescue. When recruiting for members of the board, we included it into our monthly email blast asking for specific talents
Adoption Coordinator: This volunteer matches approved applications with the available dogs. Her team consists of:
Applicant Screener: The volunteer will do the initial screening of the application; check references, verify vet care and other information on the application.
Home Visit: The volunteer meets with the applicants and their families at their homes; verifies the safety of the fence (if required), checks where the dog will be kept during the day and night. .
Foster Families. There is always a plea for foster families. They go through the same reference and vet checks as people applying for adopting. Home visits are also done. Foster families are the core of our rescue group. Besides providing a home environment for the dogs awaiting adoption, they are providing much needed services such as evaluation of the dog’s behavior, and training basic obedience skills.
Foster Home Follow-up: The volunteers make regular phone calls to the foster families for updates. Hopefully any issues that arise can be addressed as soon as possible..
Intake Coordinator: This volunteer is responsible for the intake of dogs offered through shelters, and owner turn in’s. She maintains the flow of dogs to avoid overwhelming our kennels and foster families.
Vet Coordinator This position is responsible for the dogs from the initial vet visit through the subsequent vet care if needed
Vet Foster Coordinator is responsible for the mailing of heartworm preventative and front line to the foster families for their dogs.
Transport: We cover a 3 state area and rely on transports almost daily to bring dogs in; to take dogs to vet offices The transport coordinator keeps a updated list to call and is very carefull not to overwhelm the transport volunteer.with too many assignments in a short period of time.
Telephone Assistance: We have a team that monitors the voice mail box. They need to have a working knowledge of our organization works to notify the proper person
Events; A promotional event coordinator oversees the meet & greet’s, and small fundraising events. She relies on a team of volunteers who can fill in and help with the booth.
Kennel Manager is the volunteer who takes responsibility for the dogs once they arrive at the kennel. She coordinates vet visits, grooming, evaluations, and checks the dogs everyday for any health or behavior issues.
Dog walkers: Currently we house our dogs at a kennel when they first come in the system. They get vet care; temperament evaluation and grooming. They are then allowed to go to a foster home, or to be adopted.
Evaluators: A team of 2 volunteers evaluate the dog’s temperament to help decide what if there any issues with the dog such as resource guarding, shyness. They make recommendations on what kind of household the dog would be best suited for or if further training is necessary to become available for adoption..
We also have volunteers preparing grants, publishing the quarterly newsletter, maintaining the website and data basis. Other volunteers are at “Meet n Greets” spreading the word of our rescue. Fundraising is another avenue for volunteers. Many of our volunteers do more than one job and we all pitch in to help at any time.
In the end, it is all about the “dogs”.