THE CPR BUDDY SYSTEM
What is the CPR Buddy System?
The Buddy System, more than anything else, is a communications and organizing tool. It is a combination phone tree, volunteer coordination system, membership renewal program, fundraising system, and method of getting leads.
Here are some uses of the Buddy system, from the point of view of CPR: Notifying members about meetings, special events, and campaigns. Getting volunteers when there is work to be done. Reminding people that their memberships are up for renewal. Getting leads on groups or individuals that may be interested in PR. Getting donations when there is a campaign.
From the point of view of the CPR member, the Buddy system means that each member knows who to call if they have any questions, suggestions, or ideas, about CPR or PR. They can count on their Buddy to notify them of things that they want to be notified about, and leave them alone when that is what they want.
How does it work?
You need about one Buddy for every 5-10 members. Being a Buddy means the person is willing to spend an hour or two on the phone each month. In addition, the Buddy should attend a one-hour Buddy training session to get started (this can happen one-on-one if necessary). The Chapter Coordinators will keep track of which members each Buddy is taking care of. Buddies should have email, so that the Chapter Coordinators can simply send out an email to all buddies when calling needs to happen.
When a Buddy first gets her list of members, she calls each member to introduce herself, and learn as much about them as possible. What turns them on? What turns them off? How did they find out about PR? What skills do they have? What is happening in their life right now? How strongly do they support PR, and where is it on their list of political priorities? Do they want to be notified about regular meetings? How about special events? How about campaigns? Are they interested in any kind of volunteering? Could they become a Sustaining Member? Do they belong to any groups that might be interested in hearing about PR? How about school connections? Any friends that might be interested in PR – they might want to do a house party, or have info sent to a friend. This first converstation tends to be a bit long, like about half an hour.
After that, the job is pretty easy. When regular meetings happen, you call those members that want to be notified of regular meetings – usually 2-5 out of your maximum of 10 people. Occassionally, like every 6 months or a year, you make sure to connect with all of your members, just to chat. When volunteers are needed, Buddies will be asked if they have anyone – you check your notes, maybe make a couple of calls, and see if you can fill the need.
After you make the calls, you notify the Chapter Coordinator, summarizing the results, via phone or email. E.g.: "Hi, Loren. This is Jim. I made my calls. I only notify 4 people about regular meetings. I left messages for three people, and George says he can't make it this time, but plans to come next time. Bye."
Problems & Solutions
Problem: What if a Buddy can't make calls soon enough one time?
Solutions: (1) There should be a backup Buddy or two, who will pick up other people's lists when this happens. They should try to call the regular Buddy first to find out whatever they need to know about the list. (2) One of the Coordinators makes the calls.
Problem: A Buddy keeps on not making his calls.
Solutions: (1) Talk frankly with the person about the situation, but don't be too harsh, he probably feels guilty already. If he wants to keep the job, you can talk about strategies for how the job can get done, and see if there is anything you can do to be helpful. (2) If this isn't a good job for him, then find something else he can do, and recruit a new Buddy. When Buddy lists get handed off, the new and old Buddy should get together first, and then the new Buddy should do briefer introductory calls, not asking for information he already has obtained from the old Buddy.
Problem: A Buddy and member don't get along.
Solutions: (1) Work with the Buddy – it is an important organizing skill to get along with people that you don't normally get along with. (2) Switch the member to a new Buddy.
Problem: We can't get people to be Buddies.
Solution: Buddies should be the very first volunteer position that you fill, because it is the key to organizing your chapter efficiently, to communication within the chapter. You only need one Buddy for every 10 members, and it only takes about an hour a month, so if you call everyone up and explain how important the job is, and how little time it takes, you should be able to fill the positions.
More questions or comments: Contact Jim Lindsay at 510/527-8025, firstname.lastname@example.org.