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 Post subject: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 9:18 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:32 pm
Posts: 111
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Hi All,

What sort of perqs does your railroad offer its volunteers? For example:

Lunch provided on working days
Volunteer appreciation days (annual supper, special run for volunteer families)
Free or discounted admission / rides for volunteers and immediate family members
Uniforms / hats / shirts provided

Just looking to understand how volunteers are rewarded for their time and efforts throughout the year.

Thanks in advance for any information you can provide.

Jason


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 Post subject: Re: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:31 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9262
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
There are a couple places far enough away from the "rest of civilization" that have, officially or not, lodging quarters for volunteers--think a YMCA bunkhouse or hostel arrangement. There are some/others that I am aware have kitchens, and sometimes a dining/break room, somewhere on site, and occasionally a volunteer or spouse or two will be cooking "chow" for the volunteers, especially during organized mass "work parties" such as the weekends at the WW&F and elsewhere. Yet others have RV hook-ups or a discount arrangement with a local campground or motel.

Such arrangements can double a volunteer's productivity during a visit, double (or more) their days on site, and/or attract those who might not otherwise be able to volunteer.

Volunteer appreciation dinners/banquets are a staple of all such volunteer efforts; the only problem that can arise is when the volunteers most in need of such appreciation can't make it......

I've seen "quid pro quo" with shop facilities--for example, someone donates the high-price wood for the coach window frames (or, in one case I saw, the entire tree for custom sawmill work) in exchange for access to the shop machine tools for a couple tricky projects. I've personally done a day's worth of grunt-level blacksmithing in exchange for a foundry casting.

One subtle perk I've been able to enjoy a couple times: Library volunteers with archives sometimes get the first shot at buying books or periodicals rendered surplus, often by better copies being donated. Our rules are: 1) the material MUST be either duplicate or not fitting the mission of the collection; 2) the donor(s) must have unconditionally donated the material in question; and 3) the Library Committee Chairman sets an acceptable price if interest is expressed, keeping in mind they'd rather sell it than store it or move it around. "Keep the bloody change!" is a phrase I have uttered a few times too many. (It's been over a year since I have been on site, and they just sent me a list of nearly 500 volumes priced to move--my wife doesn't know it yet, but she just got her Christmas shopping done for the year.....)

Similarly, gift-shop discounts, and/or first crack at limited-release material like t-shirts or custom models.


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 Post subject: Re: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 6:07 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 2311
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
When I volunteered on the National Park Ship Wapama in the 1980's, we could get free toll tickets for the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
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 Post subject: Re: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:23 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2547
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Free admission/ride is practically a given for Members in general unless the organization has a signature service of some kind. For instance I wouldn't expect my WRM membership to get me on the Parlor Car of the wildflower/wine train, or my 1225 or SMR membership to get me on the Fall Color trains. Doesn't make sense to offer a $55 train ride for a $40 membership.

Bunkhouses are hardly reserved for "far-out" museums like East Ely. "1 hour from nearby city" is pretty much the normal distance for heritage railways, and many of them have bunkhouses -- Rio Vista Junction's is in constant use, and I hear so is Boone's (1hr from Des Moines). The simple fact is that if the Member doesn't have to spend an hour driving home and back, that's 2 more hours of work you get out of him/her.

If you're active in more than one museum, cross pollination is also possible; having one museum help another.


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 Post subject: Re: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:03 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 2311
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
I should add that meals are a major part of the culture in the Danish museums. We have well-used kitchens and dining halls at both of our restoration shops. On Saturdays and many other days, it is expected that a hot meal will be prepared by a volunteer for dinner. Our policy on payment has fluctuated according to our budget and conditions. Very often, the meal is free and a reward for those volunteering.

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 Post subject: Re: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:23 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 474
The Railroad I volunteered at for many years gave next to nothing. No meals, no uniform or uniform budget, sometimes there would be a volunteer thank you dinner after a major event like Thomas, but sometimes there wouldn't be. The membership, which you had to pay for in order to volunteer, did provide free admission, but not for friends / extended family. They got a "discount" which was $1 off ha.

Never the less I was there for many years and had a great time. But didn't ever feel extremely valued as a volunteer. More like we should feel lucky they were letting us volunteer. ha.


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 Post subject: Re: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 12:48 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:14 am
Posts: 248
I don't think it is always about the perqs as much as it is making it as trouble free as possible for volunteers to be there. At the last railroad I volunteered at very few people cared about shirts, coats, hats, etc. They liked the ability to take there family on the train free of charge, a meal, a decent place to work and the tools to get the job done.

Problem is they cut the meals (by meals I mean they supplied a grill, burgers, dogs, drinks, etc. We would bring deserts or extra goodies ourselves.) and i noticed a significant drop in volunteer activity within 6 months. They claimed that the food was costing too much (I saw the receipts, it was not) and that people were showing up just for food. Now they have to hire the work done by volunteers. That makes the food seem cheap.


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 Post subject: Re: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 12:56 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 474
The cheap usually comes out expensive. The railroad I referenced has many more employees vs. volunteers now.

The employee vs. volunteer thing is a whole different issue.... I’ve been on both sides of that and usually felt a bit more satisfied as an employee, even though the hourly rate was of course pretty low.


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 Post subject: Re: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:24 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:09 pm
Posts: 408
At the very least, EVERY organization should be supplying drinks (Water, soda) to volunteers. Some basic snacks even. The stuff is dirt cheap at Cosco. This simple thing goes a LONG way.

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 Post subject: Re: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:18 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 2058
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
But didn't ever feel extremely valued as a volunteer. More like we should feel lucky they were letting us volunteer. ha.
The two operations I talked with volunteering for each said this. They were doing me a favor by just allowing me to talk with them.
That first discussion was as far as it got in either case. I hardly expect a parade for signing on, but I expect to not be treated like they're doing me the favor.

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Lee Bishop


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 Post subject: Re: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:41 pm 

Joined: Mon May 09, 2005 8:16 pm
Posts: 76
For the two seasons I spent as an active volunteer in both shop cleanliness and emergency car host I was allowed to spend the night in a caboose that was not in train service that weekend and received a discount at the lunch counter. After arranging for a decent amount of replacement glazing (non-FRA) I was also given a diesel photo charter for an afternoon.

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Nick


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 Post subject: Re: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:27 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2547
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Nova55 wrote:
At the very least, EVERY organization should be supplying drinks (Water, soda) to volunteers. Some basic snacks even. The stuff is dirt cheap at Cosco. This simple thing goes a LONG way.


Fine then, you can stay late and round up all the bottles and cans scattered helter skelter and hither and yon!

Don't forget the ones that blew into the pit!

One of California's worst inventions. I get the idea is uber-convenience, but it's totally impractical to control them, and they go everywhere. They didn't make your museum look like a garbage collection.

I volunteered all the way through the 80s and 90s without ever needing any such thing as a "water bottle". I didn't dehydrate; I stopped and got a glass of water once in awhile, not rocket science. Or in the field, I used a thermos. Or we got a cooler that everyone shared. And by "cooler" I mean it was filled with tap water or Gatorade and ice, and had a spigot. You either used your own thermos, or they had little paper cups you just folded up and put in your pocket when through.

I don't object to the free water/soda, of course, but that's free at the tap, cooler or fountain. It's the containers, scattered everywhere, that is disgraceful. Ban water bottles from the property.

Besides, even if you're paying 20 cents a bottle, that's $1.60/gallon. For water

Honestly, the best thing you can do for your volunteers is have ice. Rio Vista Jct. has a dedicated "ice cooler", the kind in front of the convenience store, and a company brings in 50 bags of ice a few times a year. Break open a pack, move it to the bunkhouse freezer, and people "dig in" as needed. It's easy to bring drinks from home; but at the museum, ice is the precious commodity. And that also encourages using cups instead of bottles (can't put ice in a bottle).

By the way, on swag thermos bottles (that have true vacuum, not just insulation), avoid glass at all costs, go stainless.


Last edited by robertmacdowell on Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:34 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 474
The water refill stations with filtered water, along with ice, would be fine. And then give all the volunteers nice refillable water bottles for free that are branded.


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 Post subject: Re: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:44 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:09 pm
Posts: 408
robertmacdowell wrote:
Nova55 wrote:
At the very least, EVERY organization should be supplying drinks (Water, soda) to volunteers. Some basic snacks even. The stuff is dirt cheap at Cosco. This simple thing goes a LONG way.


Fine then, you can stay late and round up all the bottles and cans scattered helter skelter and hither and yon!

Don't forget the ones that blew into the pit!

One of California's worst inventions. I get the idea is uber-convenience, but it's totally impractical to control them, and they go everywhere. They didn't make your museum look like a garbage collection.

I volunteered all the way through the 80s and 90s without ever needing any such thing as a "water bottle". I didn't dehydrate; I stopped and got a glass of water once in awhile, not rocket science. Or in the field, I used a thermos. Or we got a cooler that everyone shared. And by "cooler" I mean it was filled with tap water or Gatorade and ice, and had a spigot. You either used your own thermos, or they had little paper cups you just folded up and put in your pocket when through.

I don't object to the free water/soda, of course, but that's free at the tap, cooler or fountain. It's the containers, scattered everywhere, that is disgraceful. Ban water bottles from the property.

Besides, even if you're paying 20 cents a bottle, that's $1.60/gallon. For water

Honestly, the best thing you can do for your volunteers is have ice. WRM has a dedicated "ice cooler", the kind in front of the convenience store, and a company brings in 50 bags of ice a few times a year. Break open a pack, move it to the bunkhouse freezer, and people "dig in" as needed. It's easy to bring drinks from home; but at the museum, ice is the precious commodity. And that also encourages using cups instead of bottles (can't put ice in a bottle).

Also, perfectly nice "thermoses" (either real, stainless steel vacuum thermoses, or just insulated car mugs) are perfectly common as "swag". Rio Vista Junction had some nice ones made for donor gifts, fair chance so does your museum. Give one to every volunteer. Even have a crafty type take it to a local makerspace and etch their name onto it on the laser cutter.


I have.

Trust me, a few empty water bottles are the least concerning thing to most operations..

No issues with water fountains, reusable bottles, whatever. Coolers with 5 gallon jugs and paper cups, fantastic. But "Drink tap water" is not the solution, assuming said place even HAS running water. I can think of plenty of places I have helped out at, especially in the field (literally sometimes), that had no such thing. So now what? Ok, I have a thermos of water in the morning. That's gone by 11 on a hot day.

Have a couple of cases of water on hand, always. Its not the end of the world. Volunteers that dont clean up after themselves is another issue.

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 Post subject: Re: Volunteer Perqs
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:44 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:36 am
Posts: 337
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
We don't have running water, but do supply a portable toilet and bottled water. After the first winter without heat, we even provide a heated building. Volunteers get a "557" hat with their name on it after they have given a few days of time. On Saturdays and during our 10-hour-day "blitzes" which last about 10 days, we have a basic lunch, sometimes provided by the organization and sometimes by one of the volunteers. The lunches aren't wholly altruistic, when we provide lunch they don't leave the site and we get an extra half hour of productive time.

We must be doing something right, our volunteer corps of about 20-30 has contributed over 90,000 hours during the last seven years.


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