Building and maintaining a network of volunteers requires an investment of resources and time, both in upfront training but also in the ongoing effort needed to motivate, monitor, and assist trained volunteers. Although training individuals to conduct workshops can itself have benefits, the primary payoff is in the workshops conducted by volunteers. To maximize the efficiency of such a system, the OMI developed three strategies:
- Screen applicants. To improve its rate of return on investment in training volunteers, the OMI screens applicants, requiring them to identify how they plan to recruit and deliver workshops, prior to training. The aim is to develop a network that is more prepared to engage the community in workshops.
- Provide ongoing assistance, especially for recruitment. The greatest challenge faced by community volunteers is recruitment for workshops. Unlike staff at most agencies, the typical community volunteer lacks direct access to a steady stream of potential recruits, unless they are closely connected to a church, counseling center, or other organization that is willing to work with them to identify, recruit, or refer participants. In addition, the volunteer leader may lack the information, skills, or resources for identifying and recruiting participants. The OMI found that it must provide followup and ongoing assistance to trained leaders to encourage workshop activity, such as the recent addition of a teachback day that occurs several weeks after the initial training.
- Train a greater number of volunteers than are needed to provide services. The OMI has come to recognize that for many unavoidable reasons, not all volunteers will go on to offer services. For example, turnover should be expected, with people moving on to other things, just as in a paid workforce. Training new workshop leaders is therefore likely to be an ongoing effort, with more volunteers being trained than is expected to be necessary.