Your office of emergency management may be about to spend thousands, if not millions, of dollars unnecessarily.
Every year, agencies pay 10-25% non-federal cost share for their disaster response even though they could reduce that amount - for free.
Correctly documenting eligible volunteer labor donated during disasters can earn FEMA "credits" that may be deducted from your state, local, and tribal disaster bill.
Unfortunately, many agencies and organizations do not realize or are not prepared to capture all the hours offered by people anxious to help during crises.
"25% Can be a budget-buster!"
Ken Skalitzky, Former Emergency Management Director at Volunteer Florida shared:
"Emergency managers' top concern is evacuating and protecting people after an event. This is a huge mental and physical effort, and frankly, accurately capturing volunteer sign-ins is not top-of-mind at the time of an emergency."
"The other reality is that volunteers want to help feed, shelter, and protect people, not fill out paperwork."
"Years after landfall, more than $50 billion in federal funds were provided for recovery efforts for Hurricane Irma. I estimate that the state of Florida lost out on $75M in additional off-sets due to inadequate records."
Former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate recently explained to a Merit digital event audience that it all comes down to documenting. According to Fugate, documenting eligible volunteer hours can make the difference between community fiscal survival and breaking the budget.
Maximizing your cost-share credit is just three steps away
Let your entire team and community know how important it is to document all donated volunteer labor.
Whether you're hosting a training session for professionals or working with the general public at preparedness events, tell everyone that every hour donated during emergencies may help defray the enormous costs of disasters, including the most expensive:
rebuilding critical infrastructure
restoring necessary utilities
Make sure established volunteers in your community know that documenting their activities during emergencies is another way they can advance recovery.
share your plan to document volunteer hours verbally during all training events,
distribute signs and flyers in the community and at emergency services offices
host or share digital FEMA ICS 214 training sessions online, so people know how to complete activity forms for reimbursement.
Establishing volunteer staging areas for registration and deployment is a critical component of disaster preparedness. You can support cost recovery reporting at your volunteer centers by:
posting reminders for volunteers urging them to jot down activities during their shifts along with their location
provide, when possible, adequate space where volunteers can comfortably complete documentation
But what exactly ARE the common credit-eligible activities? FEMA lists them as:
occurrences or events such as task assignments, task completions, injuries, difficulties encountered, etc.
how relevant incident activities are progressing or any