Individuals and groups of all types want to get involved with disaster relief, but it can be very difficult for them to do so. Large disaster relief organizations like the Red Cross encourage people to give money instead of their time. When they do use volunteers it's often for very simple, uninspiring tasks, like making ham and cheese sandwiches. Smaller, more local community organizations are uniquely positioned to make the difference, by enabling people who want to use their high value skills in service of those affected by disasters. Of course, it takes time and resources to effectively identify, train and and get them to the right place at the right time, with the right resources at their disposal.
Disaster relief requires a wide range of people and skills—from accountants to carpenterss and designers to truck drivers. How can you attract the volunteers the relief effort needs, how can you help them be useful to the effort, and how can you facilitate their longer-term commitment?
One of the best ways to collect information from people affected by disaster is via door-to-door canvassing of residents. Finding and training volunteers and asking the right questions of residents will be keys to a successful canvass.
If reliable, high quality, actionable information about volunteer opportunities is accessible to the public, volunteers will place themselves where they can be most useful.