A Healthcare Documentary About People, Not Policy

“Instead of a film about policy, about which system is better, would cover more, or cost less, REMOTE AREA MEDICAL is a film about people, about a proud Appalachian community banding together to try and provide some relief for friends and neighbors who are simply out of options.”Good Pitch

A compelling new documentary called REMOTE AREA MEDICAL, takes a close look at the power of volunteer engagement in our own backyard. The film explores an organization and their team of passionate volunteers as they take a stand against health care disparity in America’s rural areas — through people, not policy.

The feature-length documentary follows nonprofit Remote Area Medical (RAM) for three days in August 2012 as their group of dedicated medical volunteers provides free healthcare for nearly 2000 patients on the infield of Tennessee’s NASCAR Speedway.

As seen in the documentary, RAM’s volunteer medical teams come together from all over the country to provide free medical, dental and eye care to people in rural areas of the United States. The organization is completely reliant on public support and volunteer commitment, and since 1985, has been engaging thousands of medical professionals to serve the greater good.

Instead of taking an explicit stand on ongoing medical debates, the film puts a human face on the lack of access to health care in America. The result is a dramatic and emotional story about underserved people with little to no means of accessible health care.

Inspired by Volunteers

Directors Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman first became fascinated with the organization and its cause while volunteering at a RAM clinic in Pikesville, KY in 2011. Reichert’s aunt, a retired nurse, introduced them to the organization and set them up at the registration table. The filmmakers were blown away by the number of people who came to the clinic, and the kindness of the volunteers brought them to tears.

The following year, the two returned to RAM — this time to document the amazing stories of both clinic volunteers and attendees. The REMOTE AREA MEDICAL documentary is the result of their own emotional experience at the clinics, and of countless hours piecing together the larger story of community, volunteerism and medical need.

The interactions between the volunteers and the people visiting the free clinic are mixed and emotionally charged. These are sometimes happy and sometimes sad encounters, but one thing is clear: They are life-changing experiences for everyone involved, including those watching on the big screen.

Changing Lives Through Volunteer Engagement

RAM “Pop-up” clinic in Briston, TN (Photo courtesy of Capital Film Fund)

This is a beautiful and inspirational film shows how motivated volunteers who are inspired by a nonprofit’s mission can touch thousands of lives in a meaningful way.

The documentary also demonstrates that organizations like yours and the volunteers you engage have the ability to address issues at the community level — not just in health care, but education, unemployment, welfare and other national topics. Take REMOTE AREA MEDICAL as inspiration to continue engaging your volunteers for a better future.

The REMOTE AREA MEDICAL documentary is currently touring at film festivals around the country. For more information about the film, and to see when it’s coming to your area, check out their Facebook page.

Nonprofit Tip of the Month: Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up!

Don’t drop the ball. Follow up.

You use VolunteerMatch to connect with the volunteers you need, but what happens next? Following up is an important part of the recruitment process. It’s the first opportunity for your organization to engage new volunteers. For this month’s tip I’ll teach you how to use the tools in your VolunteerMatch account to follow up with everyone who expresses interest in your opportunities.

Following up does not have to be a long, involved process. Most of the time a simple ‘Thank You’ note will work. You can also use follow up messaging to inform volunteers of next steps in your on-boarding process. If your organization has a Community Leader subscription you can even create customized questions that are sent out automatically.

When you post an opportunity on our site it will be visible to thousands of individuals within our network. Each time an interested volunteer clicks the ‘I Want to Help!’ button we will automatically save their contact information into your VolunteerMatch account. You can use this information in your follow up process by accessing your Referral Report.

To learn how to access the Referral Report watch this short Tools Training Video.

Use the information stored in your Referral Report to send out follow up messaging to prospective volunteers. Let them know you received their inquiry and inform them about next steps. Schedule a phone interview, send them additional paperwork or invite them to register on your website. Taking the time to follow up promotes engagement and retention, so make sure your organization doesn’t drop the ball.

Do you have any tips for following up with volunteers? Share them in the comments below! 

Nonprofit Tip of the Month: Build Capacity by Bringing in Back Up

Stressed out? Bring in some back up!

Struggling to find the volunteers you need? No time to engage the volunteers you have? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. This month I’ll tell you how to use VolunteerMatch as a capacity building tool by recruiting volunteers to help run your programs.

Let’s get started.

Recruit a Volunteer to Manage Your VolunteerMatch Account

If you don’t have the time to actively maintain your organization’s profile on VolunteerMatch, recruit a volunteer to manage it for you. This is a great way to engage the technically savvy volunteer. As you write the description, be sure to include web related skills and strategic keywords to help your opportunity show up in relevant search results.

Recruit a Volunteer to Train New Volunteers

When creating your opportunity include skills and keywords surrounding human relations and education. Not only will this save you a great deal of time, it will help keep your current volunteer staff motivated and engaged. You could also promote a more seasoned volunteer to trainer and put them in charge of on-boarding new recruits. Who better to train volunteers than the individuals already doing the work?

Recruit a Volunteer to Promote Volunteer Engagement

If you find yourself without the time to engage volunteer staff, recruit someone to help you. This is another great time saver and a sure-fire way to ensure your volunteer staff is happy and motivated. This is also a great way to develop new volunteer roles and expand your program’s impact within your organization.

Do you recruit volunteers to help run your programs? We want to hear from you! Share your opportunity in the comments below.

Back in the States and Ready to Intern! Greetings from the Newest VolunteerMatch Communications Team Member

Stephanie Rosenburg, Spring 2013 Intern

Hello everyone! My name is Stephanie Rosenburg and I am thrilled to be joining VolunteerMatch as one of the new Communications & Social Media Interns for Spring 2013. I am excited to be part of such a passionate and engaged organization, and I look forward to helping take their online community further by using social media to connect with people who care about volunteering.

I just finished my Master’s Degree in the United Kingdom about four months ago and am so happy to be back in the San Francisco Bay Area—where I studied my Bachelor’s Degree at Pacific Union College and first got involved with volunteering and nonprofit work.

I have a background in both Public Relations and Design, and was involved in managing and promoting the Cheers! St. Helena events in Napa Valley for about three years. Most recently however, I decided to switch my focus to online social engagement. So this past year, I went abroad to study the Anthropology of Development and Social Transformation from the University of Sussex. I loved doing research in online culture and exploring the use of new media in social movements, and I’m very excited to be applying this knowledge and expertise for a worthy cause.

I first met some of the VolunteerMatch team while volunteering for an event by Social Media for Nonprofits in November and instantly fell in love with their mission. Since then I have been following what they are doing and learning more about their work. Once the Spring internship position was announced, I jumped at the chance to be a part of it all. And now here I am!

Ready to Work, Ready to Learn

During the next few months, I will pour my skills, experience, and passion into reaching VolunteerMatch’s online communications and social media goals. I will develop my writing skills while writing lots of blogs and articles, and I will learn a lot more about social media strategy through contributing to Twitter and Facebook.

Additionally, I’m hoping to get involved in new and developing social media campaigns. I want to help in creating new ways to engage our public and spread the word about our awesome services—for people who want to volunteer and nonprofits who need help and also for companies interested in developing CSR programs. Most importantly however, I will be helping out a great cause.

Thanks so much for reading my short bio (I just couldn’t write it all in a 140-character tweet!) Stay tuned to see some great things coming from the Spring 2013 intern team! Also, make sure to follow my personal blog for a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a VolunteerMatch intern.

Finally, don’t forget to check out VolunteerMatch for yourselves! It’s such a great resource to connect with volunteers in your area and offers so many other tools, tips and advice. Take a look!

March Webinar Preview: Build a Strong Foundation to Ensure Success

Step up your volunteer engagement game. Attend a free webinar!

It’s a new month and that means we have new webinars to share! In February we taught you how to step up your recruitment game.  This month you’ll learn everything you need to create an engaging management program. We’ll teach you how to set goals and expectations for new and existing volunteer staff. We’ll also teach you how to become an advocate for volunteer engagement within your organization.

Here are some webinars you don’t want to miss in March:

Playing by the Rules: Creating an Effective Volunteer Handbook

In this webinar, you’ll learn how to create a living document that can help both paid and volunteer staff be better informed and know what is expected of them. A good Volunteer Handbook can also help you better identify and deal with challenging volunteers. Whether you’re just starting to create a Handbook or if you’re looking for best practices on information to include, this webinar will evaluate the Handbook you have and help you create a stronger framework for your volunteer engagement program.

Making Volunteer Engagement Everyone’s Job

Too often the role of engaging volunteers falls exclusively to the volunteer program manager. It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase “your volunteers” used within organizations. How do you make volunteer engagement everyone’s job? This webinar will provide you with the tools to become an advocate for volunteer engagement. Learn how to create a step by step communication plan to reinforce the importance of volunteer engagement to key stakeholders within your organization.

Fighting Hunger Together: Put Volunteer Groups to Work

So many volunteer managers at hunger relief organizations depend on groups of volunteers to meet the needs of their programs. Using various hunger relief organizations as examples, we’ll discuss ideas for working with corporate groups, youth groups and many more. You’ll learn effective practices for engagement and the importance of creating opportunities with measurable impacts. We’ll also share ideas for diversifying the work load and commitment level of volunteer groups. Though geared towards hunger relief, volunteer managers from all types of organizations are encouraged to attend this webinar.

Writing Accurate and Useful Volunteer Position Descriptions

This webinar covers the basics of what should be included in a position description. You’ll learn how to create and update position descriptions for all of your volunteer opportunities. We’ll also share how accurate and up-to-date position descriptions can help you recruit and train volunteers, and how they can help with retention and the development of leadership positions within your volunteer engagement program.

To learn more about our March webinars please visit our Learning Center.