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When Disaster Strikes: Getting Volunteer Resources to the Right Place at the Right Time

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Following the 9/11 terrorism attacks in New York, approximately 60,000 people converged on Ground Zero hoping to help at the World Trade Center. Lessons learned from this event and other disasters have taught us that it is so much easier to prepare for what have come to be called “spontaneous unaffiliated volunteers” in advance than to develop an ad hoc system to channel this wealth of human resources during a disaster.

As volunteer managers, our best strategy is to prepare a disaster volunteer management plan well before a disaster strikes. Planning ahead not only makes it easier to respond at the time of a disaster (should you ever have to!), it is also an effective strategy for minimizing risks for both volunteers and your organization.

Once you have developed a plan, it is important to train people in your organization on how to implement it and conduct exercises for practicing and testing it. This module will provide you with tips and tools to train your staff on effectively engaging volunteers during and after a major disaster.