PROPOSAL: Volunteer Incentives (SWAG) Budgets

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PROPOSAL: Volunteer Incentives (SWAG) Budgets

Postby mtoohey » Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:40 pm

Proposal: In order to reward our amazing volunteers, we propose a standing SWAG budget of 200.00 per department. This 200.00 will be used for volunteer gifting and will be available at the coordinators discretion. If a coordinator wishes to forfeit these funds, they can. Other regional burns (Alchemy, Transformus) provide swag for their volunteers. We ask the PC to approve a 200.00 swag budget for all departments for the coordinators to use at their discretion.

Thank you for your consideration
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Re: PROPOSAL: Volunteer Incentives (SWAG) Budgets

Postby diana-smiles » Sat Jun 04, 2016 12:32 pm

I support this. When I had to fill difficult-to-fill shifts, having the "super volunteer" dog tags (paid by me personally) and the LiveLoveBurn stickers (paid for by a campmate) to give to people really helped and made their day. People felt super appreciated! Swag is where it's at!
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Re: PROPOSAL: Volunteer Incentives (SWAG) Budgets

Postby karnak » Sun Jun 05, 2016 8:53 am

volunteer gifting

please be more specific - like bandannas?

or like food??
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Re: PROPOSAL: Volunteer Incentives (SWAG) Budgets

Postby reverend_dave » Mon Jun 06, 2016 6:43 pm

Like Oprah. "YOU get a volunteer and YOU get a volunteer and YOU get a volunteer! Everyone gets a volunteer!"

I support this idea in general, though I'd favor indexing it to the number of actual volunteers in a department. It's a little nuts for me to have $200 for Burning Art swag (plus, even though fire safety is Lizard, I'm the one who drops the report and attends the meetings, so probably another $200 for Fire Safety swag) with a combined head count of about 5 (three of whom are coordinators and one of whom is a board member) when greeters and rangers have far more volunteers and the same budget. (Yes, there are things I can do with Burning Art swag, like fire art inspection tags that are nicer than colored zip ties or rags currently in use, and we may get a batch of "official" fire safety t-shirts at some point.)
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Re: PROPOSAL: Volunteer Incentives (SWAG) Budgets

Postby Owsla » Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:52 am

If this idea goes forward, I also think this should not be a blanket amount per department but should be based on volunteer numbers. It just doesn't make any sense to have departments with wildly different numbers of volunteers being given the same budget for volunteer swag. And since volunteer numbers can change over time, there should be a periodic review of the budget amounts anyways.

Additionally, not all departments buy swag the same way. Some departments don't buy swag every cycle, but may spend more than $200 on swag every couple years; sometimes this is because in the long run it's cheaper to buy in bulk. This proposal would throw a monkey wrench in that and potentially make departments do finance-gymnastics, OR would make them have to submit a proposal through the PC anyways (as we do now, so that isn't really helping except that then there would be a rule that they would be asking for exception against). I'm not really convinced this is going to save us much time or effort in the long run.

I think this proposal also has the potential to create more spending in the long run since departments would have a blanket okay for such spending and may decide to use it "because why not?" when in the past no real need/desire was seen for this spending in all departments, as evidenced by the lack of swag budget in most departments:

Numbers: Including Rangers (which is really more of a uniform for the job than swag, but one could argue it either way so let's just call it swag for now), we have 4 departments out of 23 that have traditionally budgeted for swag. Those departments are Gate/Greeters (with swag for their volunteers only), Parking (with swag for their volunteers only), Rangers (with the Ranger uniform), and Participation Station (with the buttons for all volunteers).

Blowing up from 4 departments that occasionally need extra time on PC calls to have their swag budgets put through review to a blanket expenditure over 23 departments for the purpose of... avoiding the occasional review of swag budgets? It just makes no sense. One of the purposes of the PC is to do this sort of review and to have oversight of budgets. Why do we feel there's a need to remove that?

I realize that over the past year there's been relatively more discussion about swag costs, swag waste, and steps that can be taken to minimize the waste, but I think we made a lot of progress there and ended up in a place where we're generally more on the same page with it all. I feel that the major concerns that were raised (mainly about swag costs that were in significant excess of the proposed amount here anyways, and waste coming from such swag not being fully used) have to a large degree been addressed. I'd like to see our recent efforts and understanding on that front given a chance to work before jumping to impose new rules with the intention of covering that very same ground that we've already covered, but that would also have huge sweeping effects in other unintended areas (e.g., blanket swag budgets for 19 departments that haven't requested such and have drastically different numbers of volunteers).
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Re: PROPOSAL: Volunteer Incentives (SWAG) Budgets

Postby Animal » Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:05 pm

On behalf of the Ranger coords there's two points I'd like to discuss briefly in the context of this proposal:

The first is that I'd like for the patches that we're going to be using as our Ranger uniforms to be expressly exempt from consideration as swag. We track distribution of these patches, require our volunteers to reuse them, and attempt to minimize their cost while maximizing their effectiveness. The patches are required for on duty Rangers and moreover are required to not be worn for Rangers who are off duty. We're trying to minimize the cost of the uniform while achieving the event's requirements for visibility. Response from the Spring burn appears to be that we're doing well on the visibility, and hopefully one more round of patches will be the last we'll need to order for some time. We will continue to submit these as an itemized expense in the future when more uniforms are required for our department.

Second, we have a useful direction to put a swag budget, whatever it might be. We agree that some swag can be a nice thing to dole out and might even make or break other departments' volunteer rates. I think that the blanket amount is worth discussing as I think we could fit into most any swag budget and certainly less than $200. Also I think "every department" is overly broad, we have a few departments that are labor intensive (MASH, Rangers, Sanctuary, Parking, Greeters, Gate, Part Station, and DPW to name a few) and need many participants. But, and I mean no disrespect here, I don't see Rev Dave. and Devin making use of a $200 swag budget in a way consistent with our events' principles.
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Re: PROPOSAL: Volunteer Incentives (SWAG) Budgets

Postby reverend_dave » Wed Jun 08, 2016 5:33 pm

Sounds like a challenge. ;)

I support the idea of explicitly recognizing that departments can budget swag for their volunteers, as long as the dollar amount is small (bandannas and buttons are fine, t-shirts are OK if the volunteer is doing something where being able to identify them on sight is important, and so on) and the price is reasonable when compared to competing quotes from other vendors.
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