The use of volunteers (whether convergent, reserve or on-going) involves certain essential elements:
- Providing leadership
- Determining functions and/or tasks the volunteers can fulfill
- Deciding on procedures they should follow or use
- Elaborating on policies they should know and follow
- Investigate aspects of liability
- Provide for a viable method of registering them in and out, and tracking their assignments
A convergent volunteer program requires the least staff, funding and time of the possible volunteer programs. How such a program is handled depends on whether it is a stand-alone program or an aspect of a reserve or an on-going program.
For a stand-alone program, an agency should prepare a Convergent Volunteer Management Plan. This provides the framework for use of volunteers who spontaneously offer help in a disaster. Then, when a disaster strikes and these volunteers arrive, there is a basis for implementing a viable preplanned convergent volunteer program.
Where an agency has a reserve or on-going program, a Contingency Volunteer Management Annex - a plan adopted as an annex to an existing program - can be added to either program. The result is a viable preplanned way to use the convergent volunteers. While that may not be what was originally intended with either program, adding that annex provides the agency with both the tools and means to use convergent volunteers without the need for a separate program.