I'm thrilled to hear that a fellow shelter is looking to re-vamp their orientation/onboarding process and hope that I can be of some assistance.
First, I would encourage you to look at the onboarding process as a "meet them where they're at" kind of program. Meaning, if you have only 1 or 2 orientations a month, and if they're only provided when the volunteer has time, you potentially could be limiting who can come in and help. For example, if your orientations are only on Saturdays, but you have someone who spends Saturdays at work, but they have weekday availability, they'll never get in the door since that's step 1 is orientation.
Post Covid, we converted our orientation to being a video link that's on our private youtube channel. So, once a volunteer is approved, they receive an email with 2 links, 1 to our orientation video and the other to our Google Docs survey to confirm they've viewed the video & to sign up for what roles they're interested in learning. This now takes that extra task off of a volunteer/staff member, and allows the incoming volunteers to onboard when works for them....be it 6pm after work on a Tuesday, or 5am after a morning run on a Sunday. Our video is approx. 15-20 minutes and it's nothing fancy, but I can add/edit parts of it as things change such as our mask policy, etc. The bulk of it in fact was filmed on my iphone.
Second, in regards to the volunteer who is resistant to your structure. We also use Volgistics & it's a requirement that all volunteers, regardless of role, sign up for their shifts in advance. We follow the same structure with our volunteers that we do for staff. So, the first conversation is a verbal warning to follow our procedures and have them view that they did in fact sign their Code of Conduct & agree to our rules. The second time is a written warning and the third time is termination from our facility. Volunteers should be viewed as a workforce, not a workload, and unfortunately, not everyone will align with your facility's mission/vision/values, and that's okay!
I hope that helps, and I'm happy to support you in any way that I can! You're clearly doing an awesome job providing structure to your program and this will ultimately lead to a stronger, larger volunteer team! Good luck!
Vol. & Foster Coordinator
Pasco County Animal Services
Land O' Lakes, FLhttps://www.pascocountyfl.net/408/Animal-Services
Sent: 06-13-2022 06:28 AM
From: ann traynor-plowman
Subject: Shelter Volunteer Orientations
I'm looking for suggestions/guidance. We are a small non-profit shelter with limited resources, limited staff and a dedicated but small group of volunteers (most are fairly new since the pandemic). We are re-building our volunteer programs post-pandemic and right now we are tweaking our volunteer program/processes as we are getting in quite a few new applicants and it is getting harder to manage.
Our General Shelter Orientation/Tour lasts approximately 1 hour; they receive a tour of the facility; information about our community programs; information about our facility and our goals for the future; they are told they have to sign up for shifts and attend program specific training and will receive additional information regarding their chosen volunteer program. We typically hold 1- Orientation/month and occasionally 2.
Our typical process is:
New applicants send in application. They receive a "welcome/thank you for your interest" email with the next scheduled Volunteer Orientation Date time listed. They must confirm attendance and are added to our orientation schedule. If no one is scheduled, we cancel the date and reschedule. An email goes out stating the orientation is cancelled, so no one just shows up. Applicants who do not attend or respond to the welcome email are added to a list and sent upcoming orientation dates.
Once they attend the General Shelter Orientation/Tour, they receive an email with their next steps which are dependent on whether they volunteer in Cattery or on K9 Crew. (K9 Crew is much more structured for safety and training consistency)
So... my questions are:
- For those of you who hold scheduled Group General Shelter Orientation/Tours for new volunteer applicants, how many do you have per month?
- Are they held on the weekend or during the week? Both?
- Do you make exceptions for new applicants and hold one-off orientations for individuals?
- Last but not least, how do you handle a brand-new volunteer who is resistant to signing up online for shifts using Volgistics (she stated from the beginning she hates computers), began complaining about our policies and procedures, bad mouthing our shelter to her K9 Mentor and ignoring our dress code on her first day? (We do not allow tank tops and it is written (in red) in the volunteer handbook which she received). I had an uneasy feeling about her from the very beginning and now that she had her first mentored shift for our K9 Crew, honestly, my hope is she just doesn't return.
Note: The Shelter Orientation/Tour is led by one of our awesome volunteers so we are very limited on shift availability. Staff does not handle volunteer Orientations.
Any thoughts would be helpful!