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The 4 R’s of Successful WSB Volunteer Organizing. Recruit, Reward, Retain, Refocus. Rosie Stern, M.A., SR2S Training Coordinator Linda Patrick, M.S., SR2S Program Coordinator . Where are you at?. No volunteers recruited yet

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Recruit, Reward, Retain, Refocus

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recruit reward retain refocus

The 4 R’s of Successful WSB Volunteer Organizing

Recruit, Reward, Retain, Refocus

Rosie Stern, M.A., SR2S Training Coordinator

Linda Patrick, M.S., SR2S Program Coordinator

where are you at
Where are you at?
  • No volunteers recruited yet
  • 0-20% of needed volunteers recruited OR we can’t start until we have more volunteers
  • 21-50% of needed volunteers recruited OR we can start 1 route Sept. 1, but more volunteers are needed to grow the routes
  • 51-100% of needed volunteers recruited OR we can start all routes as of Sept. 1, but we’ll continue recruiting
today we ll discuss
Today we’ll discuss:
  • Step 1: Prepping for the first volunteer meeting
  • Step 2: Motivating volunteers
  • Step 3: Retaining effective volunteers with rewards
  • Step 4: Preventing volunteer burnout
  • Anything else you’d like to discuss?
why worry about volunteers
Why worry about volunteers?

They Affect Your Bottom Line: S.U.C.C.E.S.S.!Volunteer recruitment is a win-win:

  • No [wo]man is an island
  • Each hour given to supervising one volunteer yields NINE hours in volunteer time
  • Developing a coalition of committed advocates makes your program sustainable and demonstrates broad program support

Step 1:

Prepping for your first meeting

wsb volunteer recruitment videos
WSB Volunteer Recruitment Videos
  • PEDNET Videos:
    • Confessions of a Walking School Bus Mom
    • “The Walking School Bus Program: Questions and Answers:

To purchase, please email Robert Johnson:

  • SR2S Michigan Video:

  • CDC Walking and Biking PowerPoint:


WSB Volunteer Recruitment Guides/Forms

      • Volunteer Signups
      • Volunteer ID’s
  • Australia WSB Volunteer Resource Guide:
      • Use for first volunteer orientation meeting
  • NCSRTS Walking School Bus Guide:
      • Addressing Safety
      • Option 1: Starting Simple
      • Option 2: Reaching Out to More Children
      • Keeping the Walking School Bus Going
      • Measuring Impact
      • Promising Examples/Resources
wsb volunteer recruitment handouts
WSB Volunteer Recruitment Handouts
  • Talking with Children about WSB Ped. Safety:

  • Volunteer basic safety handout

  • Walking School Bus Participation Log

  • Volunteer Recruitment Skills Survey: COMING SOON!
  • SRTS Liability Tip Sheet

which activities interest you

___WSB Route Leader {Define} Spring/Winter/Fall/Monthly

  • ___WSB Co-lead WSB Substitute {Define} Spring/Winter/Fall/Monthly
  • ___ WSB Educator {Define} Fall/Spring
  • ___ WSB Event Planner {Define}
  • ___ WSB Volunteer Recognition Coordinator {Define}
  • ___ WSB Media Contact {Define}
  • ___ WSB School Transportation Coord. Liaison {Define}
  • ___ WSB Evaluator {Define}
  • ___ WSB Flyer/Materials Creator {Define}
  • ___ WSB Translator {Define}
  • ___ WSB Meeting Secretary
  • ___ Others?
  • Talents and interests
  • What would you like to do more of in your current job?
  • What would your ideal job look like?
  • What would you do in it, and what would you not do and why?

Which activities interest you?

set up a volunteer meeting schedule
Set up a volunteer meeting schedule
  • Focus on “critical points”
  • Sample: Monthly Google iChatgoal-setting meetings
  • 6-month recognition event
  • “Anniversaries”
  • Every meeting should be an opportunity to
    • Re-evaluate commitment
    • Identify new interests and goals

Step 2:

Motivating Volunteers

why would you volunteer to assist a wsb
Why would you volunteer to assist a WSB?
  • To benefit family or self
  • To help a cause you believe in
  • To do something you like to do
  • To feel sense of accomplishment
  • To meet people and find new friends
  • To find challenge in new skills and experiences
  • To gain work experience
what do people really want
What do people really want ?

“ SR2S speaks to the village being a walkable, historic, quaint, front-porch community” –Spring Lake

“On Wednesdays, 20 students walk to school , to promote safety in numbers.” –Benton Harbor

“Exercise does enhance a child’s ability to learn.” -Midland

“Children will grow up to become better drivers because they understand how to share the road with people on foot and bicycle.”-Midland

“[SR2S] would reduce traffic jams at drop-off and pick-up times, vehicle emissions around schools, and the need to visit the gasoline pump. In addition, walking and bicycling to school provides children with time to socialize with parents and friends and to get to know their neighborhoods.” -Bad Axe

This is the most safety oriented grant we’ve ever had, and it will definitely save lives-Farwell

creating an inclusive tone
Creating an inclusive tone
  • Common goal or purpose
  • Sense of ownership
  • Celebrate accomplishments
  • Foster sense of belonging
  • Promote interaction:
  • Engage in new/fun experiences together

believe in the power of change
Believe in the power of change
  • Believe in your WSB program
  • Believe in your WSB volunteer leadership
flexibility motivation retention
Flexibility +  + Motivation = Retention

14% of volunteers who increased volunteer hours did so because of expanding interest and involvement in their volunteer work

(Gallup Poll of Giving and Volunteering, 1998)


Step 3:

Retaining effective volunteers with rewards

why reward
Why Reward?
  • Short-term promotional motivations
  • Increase performance goals
  • Recognition for those motivated internally
  • Can attract corporate/small business sponsors
low cost no cost recognition
Low-cost/no-cost recognition
  • Graciousness/praise
  • Involving volunteers in decision-making
  • Asking about the volunteer’s family/show interest in outside life
  • Equal treatment with paid staff
  • “safe”, respectful environment
  • Notes of appreciation
  • Send to professional development trainings
  • Recommendation letters
  • Coffee
praise that pays
Praise that pays…
  • One of the things that I enjoy most about working with you is:
  • We couldn’t have done it without your:
  • What an effective way to:
  • You’ve made my day because:
  • You made a difference by:
  • I am impressed with:
  • You got my attention with:
  • You’re doing top quality work on:
  • You’re right on the mark with:
external rewards
External Rewards

Volunteer Appreciation Dinner


Certificates of Appreciation

Recognition through articles, assemblies, billboards

Volunteer of the month Program

Earn Volunteer Tokens- pins, pedometers, patches, etc.

Other ideas?


Step 4:

Avoiding Burnout

demotivators or how to sink your own ship
Demotivators…or how to sink your own ship
  • Too much politics
  • Unclear expectations
  • Unproductive meetings
  • Unfairness
  • Poor student conduct
  • Not using talents
  • Taken for granted
  • Management invisibility
  • WSB perceived as ‘uncool’
  • Unnecessary rules
  • Lack of manager follow-up
  • Negativity towards ideas
  • Tolerating poor performance
  • Over-control
burnout in volunteers
Burnout in Volunteers

Probable when…

  • Ambiguous assignments
  • Stressful role
  • Feeling a lack of accomplishment or success
  • Lack of organizational support
  • Feel situations beyond their control
  • Too many expectations
causes of volunteer burnout
Causes of volunteer burnout
  • Lack of excitement or interest
  • Expectations not met
  • Overwhelmed
  • Not supported
  • Repetition
  • Low performance standards
  • Equal treatment
warning signs
Warning Signs
  • “I’m just a volunteer”
  • “What do they expect for free?”
  • Negativity connected to a disgruntled volunteer/parent/staff etc.
volunteering barriers and solutions
Volunteering barriers and solutions
  • Not enough volunteers to start on schedule
  • Volunteer’s schedule changes
  • Difficult students/parents
  • Difficult media incident
  • Others?
leader s role
Leader’s Role
  • Empower
  • Use their talents
  • Explore differences, understand diversity
  • Training
  • Special knowledge
  • Keep Going!
re energizing your volunteers
Re-energizing your volunteers
  • Empathy
  • Hold back your opinion
  • Do I let people do what they do best?
  • Do I let volunteers know what is expected?
  • What can I do to change/improve?
when there s negativity
When there’s negativity…
  • What makes you say that?
  • What can you do to improve the situation?
  • What kind of place would you want to work?
  • What can you do to make this activity more like you want it to be?
remind them
Remind them…
  • Why did you begin volunteering in the first place?
  • What originally sparked your interest?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What is important about the work?
  • What is challenging?
  • What is fun about it?
  • How is it worthwhile?
best practices what others are doing
Best Practices – What others are doing
  • NCSRTS: How to Build a WSB Program from the Ground Up

  • Good website: Indiana Area WSB

  • NCSRTS Promising Examples:

thank you
Thank You!