Developing and Managing Volunteers as a need for Project Management

Developing and managing volunteers as a need for project management
Disasters bring out the best of people and many rush to assist. This influx of trained and
untrained bodies can present numerous challenges at the scene. As in all things,
organization out of chaos is a challenge. The initial people involved in an event become
the first volunteers as they assist each other and perform tasks until adequate emergency
responders are present. The challenge for emergency services first on scene is to get
information from those involved and to organize them into functional units until adequate
resources can take over. As a manager, the coordination, recognition, and follow up with
these essential people is critical. What you do in the first 15 minutes dictates the
effectiveness of the next hour!
We know that “convergent” volunteers will arrive, especially in response to a call for
more assistance in large events. Freelancing becomes an obstacle and a liability when it
interferes with the mission task and support available. Volunteers do however, have an
essential role in an organized response system, so much that ESF #6 builds upon the Red
The agencies that are part of VOAD – Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters –
have the role to “not manage disaster response operations but to coordinate planning and
preparations in advance of disaster incidents and operations.” Review the NVOAD site
for information on the organization of these agencies: These
agencies are an essential part of disaster preparedness, response, recovery and policy
All of the voluntary agencies compete for the donated dollars to support their missions.
There are different organizational structures so you will see different funding streams.
How do these issues effect the provision of services?
NDMS teams, Medical Reserve Corps, etc are also volunteers. Each has an
organizational structure and process. For example: .
Those of you on NDMS teams might be willing to share what you need to do to be a
volunteer as far as time and training commitments go. Others that volunteer for
organizations such as the Red Cross or faith based groups can share your experiences
also. If you have not signed up to be a volunteer, review these sites please and consider
joining. (there are many other agencies so look at the NVOAD list and internet searches
to help you match your interest and geographic location.) You need to continue to build
experience to your portfolio. Academics without practical application make it difficult to
get a position in Emergency management. Take every opportunity to volunteer! (Also
apply to your experiential learning list);;;;;;
Every state has a volunteer registry site – examples are:
Policy affects all agencies – land use, utilities, building regulations, public works, public
health and transit to name a few. The Federal push to enhance preparedness has resulted
in billions of dollars being allocated through programs such as Urban Area Security
Initiative (UASI) and Homeland Security. The dollars come with the requirement to be
NIMS compliant and support the federal initiatives such as National Response
Framework, Targeted Capabilities, Resource typing, etc. Has this resulted in a decrease in
planning of localities? Is there truth to the fear that local jurisdictions will adopt a
“canned” plan and not implement the process that creates true local planning and
logistics? In your own areas you should be networking with your local LEPC and OEM
agencies to explore how they function and the extent of preparedness.
SO the question to come back to is how do you think, plan and apply project management
in these situations?
Readings – Read to fill in your knowledge gaps – make sure you are working through
Coppola and Walker texts
Attached Files:
Read Managing Spontaneous Volunteers from the link above.
Convergent Volunteers, by Cone and Weir: Convergent Volunteerism.pdf
UN Document:
Liability coverage
Sylves. Intergovernmental Relations in Disaster Policy from Disaster Policy & Politics.
2014. Chp. 6
Go to this site: and look through the
materials here. There are some great resources to bookmark!
Ciottone – Chp 45
Walker – Chp 4 and 5
Optional: walmart