Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Some Ideas re:Volunteering

Some dog agility folks have been talking about how many people volunteer (or don't) to help at trials.  I've heard Americans compared with Europeans and with the folks from the UK.  (Not too favorably, I might add.)  I've heard committee members talk about it.  I've read a few complaining blogs, and some darn entertaining ones.  (Some writers - like Team Small Dog - totally crack me up! Kudos to you!)  These comments and viewpoints gave me food for thought.

Want more volunteers? 

Are you getting enough help during "set-up"?
...Do your "set-up" volunteers get some sort of perk?  (They can crate closer to the field, yes....which works especially well for competitors who can get off early from work, and who don't have an RV or a friend who can "claim" some space.  Do they get anything else?  Two weeks vacation?  No, wait....maybe the vacation time should be saved for the folks who stick around for "tear-down."  They are saints!)
...Is someone assigning jobs, or is everyone "milling around"?

Which positions are the last ones to fill?  (chute straightener? pole setter?  leash runner?)
...Why?  (all the bad backs in our age group?)
...Can we make the job easier?  (hmmmm.)
...Can we make the job more attractive?  (extra payment?  or something like...ummm...a gold tiara? handed off to each worker? Ha!  offer a free massage?)    
...Can we do more to encourage two people to share certain jobs, especially during big classes? Or - sure - during ALL the classes?  Can any of the volunteers sit next to each other during the class they're working?  (which might be more distracting than chatting with a friend ringside....)
...Can we let volunteers know how many dogs are in the class they're signed up for, so they have a good idea how long they'll be working?
...How can we get spouses and partners more involved?  (Aren't they bored just sitting there, drinking adult beverages and reading a book?! heh heh.)
...Do all of your volunteers have an umbrella, if it's hot?  A towel or cushion to put on the metal chair, if it's wet or cold?  A bottle of water by their chair?  Do they need sunscreen?  A bathroom break?  A Snicker's bar?  (Do they know they can get up and ask for this stuff??)

Check which positions are the first to fill.  (score table? ring steward? course builder?)
...Why?  (because you can work while sitting in the shade, right next to the jelly beans?  and/or you get to set up in a privileged crating area?  and/or the job is flexible enough you can check on your dog or go to the bathroom whenever you feel the need, without waiting for a replacement?) 
...Is every interested club member getting an opportunity to work these "desired" jobs, or do they go to the same people all the time?  (and maybe that's totally okay with us...?)  Or do club members somehow "earn" these jobs (by working other jobs?), and then get to "keep" them as long as they want? 
...Is the general and/or newer competitor simply too intimidated, by the mysteries of the task, to sign up for these jobs?  Would an on-line "how-to" video be helpful?
...Can we make any of these jobs more available to interested spouses and partners who don't have much to do at trials?  (Which would free club members up for sharing the other jobs.)  Or must these jobs go only to club members? 
...Do club members "mentor" other club members into these jobs?  If so, is there a sign-up "apprentice" sheet?

Make sure every ring steward knows how much "payment" to give their workers.
...Rings do not pay the same.  The steward at the Novice Ring may be a novice steward, sticking closely to the rule (?) of "five raffle tickets" each worker, while the steward at the Masters Ring is giving tickets away by the boatload.  Sometimes you get a lunch ticket for setting poles.  Sometimes you don't. 
...Are your ring stewards getting enough training?  Are you encouraging them to be as generous as possible?
...Are your ring stewards getting enough recognition?  (Fame and Fortune? Wine?)  ;-)
...Do ring stewards need assistants?  (Some ring stewards are so busy showing their own dogs they can't keep track of people who casually step in and help set poles, or who run over to help build courses - which leaves some volunteers unrecognized.)

Do your volunteers feel valued?

...Volunteer-of-the-Year Trophy? Ribbons? Wine? Free Entries? Photos? Fame? ;-)
...Novice Volunteer awards?
...Newbie Volunteer awards?
...Do you know the names of your volunteers, and their dogs?  Do you personally thank them? 
...Do you go out of your way to make sure your volunteers are having some fun? 
...If any of your volunteers has a puppy less than a year old, do you let them know they can crate their pup ringside (if you allow it) (and if they want to)?
...Are all of your volunteers getting treated equally well? 
...Must all volunteers be "present" at the raffle table on Sunday, in order to win something that day?  Or can you devise a way to make sure a winner gets his prize?  (Which may make working on Sundays a bit more attractive to some folks.)

...Does your club have a Big "Year-End" Volunteer Raffle?  For which your volunteers get raffle tickets at each trial? 
- - - Maybe your club has a rich person that donated a New Car!? (heh heh)
- - - Ten or twelve free private lessons with __________ trainer? 
- - - Free Workshop(s)?  Seminar(s)? 
- - - Year-long Crating or Canopy privileges? 

It could very well be that your club has already done all of the above, and MORE!  I don't know.  The whole volunteer thing can be a real sticky wicket.  It should be a lot of fun....but sometimes it's just a lot of work.  I'll keep thinkin' on it.  Lord knows I've got plenty of time to think these days. 

 HUGS TO ALL VOLUNTEERS, everywhere!!!!

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