Wheeling Walks Training Manual

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Chapter 6:
Recruiting Volunteers:
Recruiting Volunteers
Recruiting Volunteers from Campaign Partners

Staff Responsibilities to the Volunteer Network
Tips for Keeping Volunteers

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Recruiting Volunteers

There are countless ways to promote walking in conjunction with a media-based campaign; but without volunteer resources, you cannot expect to bring about a lifestyle change within the community.  Volunteers play a vital role in campaign planning and implementation.

Volunteers provide manpower.  They can assist with a variety of campaign activities, like making phone calls, distributing campaign materials and working at an event registration table.Volunteers can provide advice and access to community resources.  For example, they can solicit donations from merchants whom they know or with whom they frequently do business, or they can help a campaign speaker get on the agenda of a local organization meeting.  In addition, volunteers can act as liaisons to the community.  Their knowledge of the campaign gives them the ability to answer questions of other community members.  Their participation may convince others that it is worthwhile to join the campaign.  Volunteers made walking happen in Wheeling. When other community members saw that walking was the “buzz” in town, they wanted to take part.  Following are simple strategies to recruit volunteers for the media-based campaign.

Recruiting Community Volunteers

The success of any event, and all WHEELING WALKS events, depends on dedicated volunteers. Volunteers help to 1) recruit participants and additional volunteers, 2) plan and implement campaign activities, and 3) document and evaluate programs as they are conducted.

Note:  Recruit volunteers from each group or organization that you have contacted about the campaign.

Steps for recruiting volunteers:

  • Make a list of community organizations from which volunteers could be recruited (civic and community organizations, worksites, health departments, social service offices, senior centers, and other community and social organizations).  A list of community service organizations can be obtained from the local Chamber of Commerce. 
  • Contact an officer or service committee chairman to discuss the campaign.  This can be done by phone or by letter with a telephone follow-up (see Appendix 5D for the Initial Scheduling Letter to Organizations and Appendix 4A for an Information Sheet and Calendar of Events to include with the letter).
  • Ask to schedule a presentation to discuss the campaign with organization members.
  • At the presentation, distribute a Campaign Information Packet (see Appendix 4A).  Also give them a Campaign business card (Appendix 6A) and have a sign-in sheet to collect names, addresses, etc. (Appendix 6B).  Encourage members to join the campaign and to provide feedback and advice for event planning.  Ask them to decide how they can help the campaign.

Example: Planning the Mayor’s Walking Cup event

  • Contact a local business or group in the area where the event will be held.
  • Schedule a meeting.  Invite the business or group to join the campaign. The primary goal of the first meeting should be to explain the campaign and discuss what role the business or group can play in the campaign. 
  • Explain the Mayor’s Walking Cup event and what you hope to accomplish.
  • Ask for assistance in event planning.  Pose the following questions:  Where can we hold this event? Who can work a registration table?  Is there a restaurant near that would be willing to provide a free lunch? As these questions get answered, let the group take the lead as to who and how this will be accomplished.  Send minutes of each meeting, noting assigned tasks, to all meeting attendees
  • Schedule follow-up meetings to refine plans and keep abreast of what is being done. (See Chapter 7 for more details on the Mayor’s Walking Cup.)

Note:  It is important to inform the volunteers that campaign staff will make all media contacts for the event. 

Note:  Local organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, can assist in gathering contact information for community businesses and organizations.

Tip:  Present your business card to everyone you meet and send it with all correspondence. Be sure to have your “lead” organization printed on the card. WHEELING WALKS staff had West Virginia University (WVU) printed on our business cards.  The WVU name opened many doors for us.   Be sure to keep a file of your business contacts and keep them organized for future use. (See Appendix 6A for a copy of a WHEELING WALKS business card.)

Recruiting Volunteers from Campaign Partners

People working together to accomplish greater things than could have been accomplished alone - that’s what partnership is all about.

It is important for a local organization to take the lead in bringing walking events to the community.  A local organization can provide the credibility and influence needed to make the campaign successful.

WHEELING WALKS partnered with the Ohio Valley Runners/Walkers Club (OVRWC) to enhance the impact of the campaign in Wheeling.  OVRWC assisted the campaign by organizing structured walking events.  OVRWC helped with liability insurance and injury disclaimers. These issues seemed complicated to the WHEELING WALKS staff, but were dealt with easily by the OVRWC.  OVRWC volunteers were eager to help at our walking events. They helped provide large numbers of walkers that generated good media coverage.  In addition, they were able to suggest community businesses and organization that could offer support and sponsorships.

The club also benefited from working with WHEELING WALKS.  As WHEELING WALKS participants became familiar with the OVRWC members, they were more likely to join the club and participate in future club activities.  We were even able to include an OVRWC trial membership and newsletter subscription as part of the entry fee for an event.

Please note that this kind of group feels ownership.  Id they are omitted from the planning and delivery of a walking-related event, you may create problems for yourself.  Be sensitive to ownership issues.  Always be inclusive.  People want to help and they want to be asked to help.  Give them the opportunity to contribute.

Additional Community Support

Although the Ohio Valley Runners’/Walkers’ Club was our main partnership, many others in the Ohio Valley were eager to help with the campaign.

  • Ohio Valley Mall – In Wheeling, the Ohio Valley Mall was the only free indoor walking venue.  Find out where people in the community walk when the weather is bad and ask those facilities for help. Indoor walking options should be suggested to campaign participants to help overcome the weather barrier.
     
  • Ohio Valley Medical Center– Not only was OVMC one of our largest worksite participants in WHEELING WALKS, but their established network of worksite wellness programs provided a great place for us to incorporate speakers and guests to foster our walking events.  In addition, their physicians were very helpful in spreading the word about walking to their patients.
     
  • Wheeling Medical Park – This was a great place to hold meetings and gather walkers to participate in our events.  Their physicians were also very helpful in spreading the word about walking to their patients.
     
  • Wheeling Civic Center – Fortunately, the Wheeling Civic Center was always willing to let us use their resources for media events. The set-up crew worked efficiently and had the needed resources (a podium and sound system). 
     
  • Local Sports Organizations –Local school teams can add numbers to walking events.  However, getting professional or semi-professional teams involved in the walking campaign can add both a boost to the walk and to the teams’ events. For example:  We held a family walk at the Wheeling Civic Center before an Ohio Valley Greyhound semi-professional football game. More than 40 walkers joined with the players for a pre-game walk.  The incentive for participating:  Greyhound fans could get reduced price tickets if they were wearing their walking shoes and participated in the pre-game walk.
     
  • Ohio University Eastern – Ohio University Eastern provided student volunteers.  Students in the health sciences and nursing classes could earn class credit by volunteering at our events. These essential volunteers increased attendance and added expertise.
     
  • Wheeling Chamber of Commerce – The Chamber of Commerce was essential in adding flare to our events.  If you need a “big pair of scissors” and ribbon to cut, or an easel to put up a sign, it is great to have friends in high places!
     
  • School students/ teams - Once again, sports teams increase event attendance and give the walk a competitive look.  In addition, student athlete participation many times leads to parent participation.
     
  • “Movers and Shakers” in the Community – Keep your eyes on the local media. There are people in the community who love to be involved.  Contact them.
     
  • Our experience: Without even advertising, we had our first person, Nancy Toto, sign-up for the campaign.  Nancy Toto is a breast cancer survivor who walks regularly for various causes. She generates her own publicity by volunteering for many projects. Once she became a WHEELING WALKS participant, we made sure she had a T-shirt.  She happily wore the t-shirt to many other events where she always got press.  And as we go to press 16 months after the WHEELING WALKS Kick Off, Nancy has not missed a day of walking 30 minutes.

Staff Responsibilities to the Volunteer Network

1.   Prepare a standard “Meeting /Events Tool Kit” and take it to every meeting of volunteers as well as to other meetings and event.  Having such a Tool Kit makes it possible to have the items you will need together in one place when you need them.  This also ensures that the items you need to collect important information at each meeting or event (sign-in sheets, etc.) are ready and conveniently available   that the coordinator can attend to the task at hand rather than having to scramble around at the last minute to take care of some important detail.

The Coordinator’s MEETINGS / EVENTS TOOL KIT (Appendix 6D) includes the following:

    -A Campaign Information Packet (see Appendix 4A) with the:

      -Campaign Information Sheet
      -Campaign Schedule of Events
      -Campaign Registration Form
      -Campaign Endorsements
      -Campaign Sponsors and information
      -Sampling of Past Press Articles on the Campaign

    -Your business card (Appendix 6A).

    -Guest Sign-In Sheet (Appendix 6B).

    -Media Sign-In Sheet (Appendix 6D).

    -Supplies that come in handy at any meeting you are in charge of:

    • Clear, masking, and duck tape
    • Legal pad(s)
    • T-shirts for sale
    • Cash Box
    • Pencils
    • Water
    • Ice
2.  For this volunteer recruiting meeting, also prepare and take copies of a Campaign Information
     Sheet (see Appendix 4A) and TIPS on Walking (Appendix 5E). 

3.   Form and maintain a work crew.  Choose individuals that are willing to provide assistance.

4.   Invite the volunteers to events.  An invitation will make them feel important to the campaign and give
      needed support.

5.    Identify a spokesperson for the group.  Use this person for press events. 

Note:  Be sure to review the campaign Talking Points with the spokesperson in advance of the meeting. (See Appendix 4D for Model Talking Points.)

Tips for Keeping Volunteers

  • Ask volunteers to attend campaign meetings.
     
  • Invite volunteers to breakfast or lunch meetings.  Keep them informed and make them feel important, BECAUSE THEY ARE!
     
  • Show appreciation for their efforts at all events. Recognize and introduce your volunteers, give certificates of appreciation, when appropriate, and send thank you notes.  (See Appendix 6E, for sample “thank you.”)
     
  • Provide people with meaningful opportunities to contribute.  Many folks want to be counted on.
     
  • Provide options for volunteers. We all know of the higher-powered attorney who only want to stuff envelopes!  They have made enough decisions in their day job!
     
  • Say “thank you” again.  Be specific with your words of appreciation.
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