Volunteer Recruitment and Training
How are volunteer drivers recruited?
Passengers recruit their own volunteer drivers in the TRIP model service program. There are a number of reasons that the TRIP model requires passengers to recruit their own drivers:
o No one is in a better position to know the character of a volunteer. Passengers know their friends or neighbors and ask those they trust to volunteer.
o It is empowering for a passenger to refocus on helping themselves. Instead of becoming accustomed to giving up personal responsibility and being helped like a small child, requiring and helping passengers to recruit their own volunteer driver helps to encourage an attitude and behavior directed toward self-sufficiency.
o When passengers reach out to those around them and form closer bonds with them, their support network expands.
o Because the service program is not recruiting, screening, training and matching volunteers with passengers, the risk and liability potential associated with those activities is substantially limited.
o This also significantly reduces the expense of operating the program.
How hard is it for passengers to recruit their own volunteer drivers?
A report by the National Center for Transit Research, Center for Urban Transportation Research University of South Florida in 2008 found that the “biggest problem faced by volunteer driving programs is recruiting and retaining volunteers.” In fact, this is not at all true for TRIP model programs.
Most people who enroll in the TRIP program in Riverside do not find it difficult to recruit their own volunteers. Some people initially tell us things like "I don't know anyone". There are usual concerns that they will be "imposing", "begging", or becoming a "burden". Some are hesitant to ask friends and neighbors, until they understand that they are not asking for charity. Staff counseling is provided to:
o Explain that their enrollment in TRIP means that they can offer to help pay for gas, making a request for transportation assistance more of a business arrangement than charity.
o Help identify people who might be candidates for recruitment.
o Discuss how to ask people to volunteer and to increase the likelihood of success for their recruitment effort.
o Establish and schedule task objectives, motivate and then follow-up to help passengers succeed with recruitment.
We also include a "Volunteer Drivers Talk about How They Were Asked to Be a TRIP Driver" flier with each enrollment Welcome Package that we send out. On the reverse of the flier are suggestions of categories of volunteer candidates that have been successful sources of drivers for others enrolled in TRIP.
Many passengers of the TRIP program in Riverside actually have multiple volunteer drivers. At a recent meeting at a senior center with TRIP passengers and their drivers, one passenger attended with her five volunteers! She told us that previous to being on the TRIP program she was pretty much alone, but now her volunteers have become her friends - after the meeting, they all went out to lunch together.
Is there a paper document agreement that is made between the rider and driver or is it purely by word?
The passengers and their volunteers are friends and neighbors. The arrangements are those of friends. No legal agreements are required any more than they might be if a friend agrees to pick any of us up and take us to the golf course or for us to go to church together, and so forth.
Do the volunteer drivers go through a training program? If so what subjects are covered?
Because we emphasize passengers recruiting their own volunteer drivers, we do not take on many of the responsibilities often associated with other kinds of volunteer driver models. The passenger makes the decision to ask a friend or neighbor to be their volunteer driver. The TRIP program is not a party to the decision to ask someone to be a volunteer or the agreement that is reached between the passenger and their volunteer.
Many functions of other volunteer driver models that are associated with driver recruitment and matching drivers with passengers are not necessary in a TRIP program. TRIP does not recruit, screen, formally train or match volunteers with passengers, and the result is that the risk and liability associated with those activities is limited. This also substantially reduces the expense of operating the program.
TRIP in Riverside does provide a "Volunteer Driver Handbook", through the passenger. This handbook provides an overview of the program and how it operates, and what is expected of volunteer drivers, including how to complete mileage reimbursement forms.
Does TRIP in Riverside hold volunteer recognition events for the drivers? If so, how often and what are the events like?
Our volunteers are spread over a 7200 square mile area and getting them together for a typical recognition event is logistically very difficult. Last year, we organized little events at 10 different senior centers across the county, met and talked with the volunteers who attended, gave them each a really nice portfolio with a TRIPnotes indicia and an opportunity to register at each of the events to receive one of ten $50 supermarket gift certificates that we gave away through a drawing. Of the 750 volunteers that helped program passengers last year, about 100 attended the events.
Consistently over the years, TRIP volunteer drivers have told us they think the TRIP is "great". We know they appreciate the mileage reimbursement, but we believe that their allegiance and friendship is really tightly bound to their passenger and that is an important part of what keeps them doing it day after day, week after week, year after year. In this model, recognition can be more informal - the satisfaction that comes from intimate engagement with the passengers and seeing how the assistance they provide over time really impacts the well-being of their passengers is a personal reward for volunteerism that a TRIP hosted lunch could never match.
The Beverly Foundation has rated TRIP as ........"the nation's best volunteer driver model"